Totem and Taboo (Dover Thrift Editions)

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9780486404349: Totem and Taboo (Dover Thrift Editions)

In this landmark collection of essays, published as Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics in 1918, the father of psychoanalysis explores the conflict between primitive feelings and the demands of civilization, i.e., the struggle to reconcile unconscious desires with socially acceptable behavior.
Totemism, a concept found in societies around the world, involves the belief in a sacred relationship between an object (totem) and a human kinship group. Men and women bearing the same totem are prohibited from marrying each other, this being a form of incest taboo. Freud identifies a strong unconscious inclination as the basis of taboo, and he attempts to define its source by tracing the earliest appearance in childhood development of totemism. After an examination of the incest taboo in primitive societies around the world, Freud discusses taboo and the ambivalence of emotions; animism, magic, and the omnipotence of thought; and the infantile recurrence of totemism.
An important work by one of the twentieth century's most influential thinkers, Totem and Taboo is essential reading for teachers and students of psychology as well as those with an interest in ethnology and folklore. This inexpensive edition offers all readers access to one of Freud's most penetrating attempts to decipher the mysteries of human behavior.

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From the Back Cover:

In this brilliant exploratory attempt to extend the analysis of the individual psyche to society and culture, Freud laid the lines for much of his late thought, and made a major contribution to the psychology of religion. Primitive societies and the individual, he found, mutually illuminate each other, and the psychology of primitive races bears marked resemblances to the psychology of neurotics. Basing his investigations on the finding of anthropologists, Freud came to the conclusion that totemism and its accompanying restriction of exogamy derive form the savage's dread of incest, and that taboo customs parallel closely the symptoms of compulsion neurosis. The killing of the 'primal father' and the consequent sense of guilt are seen as determining events both in the misty tribal pre-history of mankind, and in the suppressed wishes of individual men. Both totemism and taboo are thus held to have their roots in the Oedipus complex, which lies at the basis of all neurosis, and, as Freud argues, is also the origin of religion, ethics, society, and art.

About the Author:

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is one of the twentieth century's greatest minds and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. His many works include The Ego and the Id; An Outline of Psycho-Analysis; Inhibitions; Symptoms and Anxiety; New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis; Civilization and Its Discontent, and others.

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