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J., E. (1920). Dreams and Primitive Culture: By W. H. R. Rivers, M.D., F.R.S., (Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1918. Pp. 26. 1s.).. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:333-334.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:333-334

Dreams and Primitive Culture: By W. H. R. Rivers, M.D., F.R.S., (Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1918. Pp. 26. 1s.).

Review by:
E. J.

This is a lecture delivered at the John Rylands Library, Manchester, in April 1918. The object of the lecturer is to point out that the resemblances which Abraham and others have remarked on between dreams and myths are also to be observed between dreams and primitive culture, i. e. that the principles of psycho-analysis have a wide validity in this field. He gives first an account of Freud's theory of dreams, which he seems to accept as true with certain reservations, notably as regards the formulation of the censorship concept. He then takes it point by point, distortion, symbolism, dramatization, displacement, condensation, secondary elaboration, wish-fulfilment, and so on, and illustrates all these processes by parallels drawn from his own experience in Melanesia. He meets the possible objection that such parallels can be found if only one searches widely enough, first by confining his examples to one single island two miles wide, and then by laying stress on the closeness of the parallels cited.

As this is a book distinctly to be read by psycho-analysts, only one or two features will be noticed here. Dr. Rivers considers that sensorial imagery is much more vivid in savage peoples than in civilised, even going so far as to speak of their "almost exclusive interest in the concrete", and suggests that the prominence of this feature in the primitive mind accounts for the strikingly dramatic nature of most of their rites and ceremonies, as it does in the case of dreams.

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