Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics

Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics

Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics

Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics

Synopsis

Widely acknowledged to be one of Freud's greatest cultural works, when Totem and Taboo was first published in 1913, it caused outrage. Thorough and thought-provoking, Totem and Taboo remains the fullest exploration of Freud's most famous themes. Family, society, religion - they're all put on the couch here. Whatever your feelings about psychoanalysis, Freud's theories have influenced every facet of modern life, from film and literature to medicine and art. If you don't know your incest taboo from your Oedipal complex, and you want to understand more about the culture we're living in, then Totem and Taboo is the book to read.

Excerpt

The four essays that follow were originally published (under a heading which serves as the present book's sub-title) in the first two volumes of Imago, a periodical issued under my direction. They represent a first attempt on my part at applying the point of view and the findings of psycho-analysis to some unsolved problems of social psychology [Völkerpsychologie]. Thus they offer a methodological contrast on the one hand to Wilhelm Wundt's extensive work, which applies the hypotheses and working methods of non-analytic psychology to the same purposes, and on the other hand to the writings of the Zurich school of psycho-analysis, which endeavour, on the contrary, to solve the problems of individual psychology with the help of material derived from social psychology. (Cf. Jung, 1912 and 1913.) I readily confess that it was from these two sources that I received the first stimulus for my own essays.

I am fully conscious of the deficiencies of these studies. I need not mention those which are necessarily characteristic of pioneering work; but others require a word of explanation. The four

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