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March 30 , 2011

Totem and Taboo


According to Wikipedia: Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics is a 1913 book by Sigmund Freud. It is a collection of four essays first published in the journal Imago (191213) employing the application of psychoanalysis to the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and the study of religion: "The Horror of Incest"; "Taboo and Emotional Ambivalence"; "Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thoughts"; and "The Return of Totemism in Childhood". Géza Róheim considered Totem and Taboo one of the great landmarks in the history of anthropology, comparable only to Edward Burnett Tylor's Primitive Culture and Sir James George Frazer's The Golden Bough. René Girard comments that, "Contemporary criticism is almost unanimous in finding unacceptable the theories set forth in Totem and Taboo," and that, "Everyone seems intent on covering Totem and Taboo with obloquy and condemning it to oblivion." Girard views the work differently, noting that Freud's concept of collective murder is close to the themes of his own work."

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