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J., E. (1920). Magic in Names: By Edward Clodd, (Chapman & Hall, London, 1920. Pp. 238. Price 12s. 6d.).. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:334-336.
(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:334-336
Magic in Names: By Edward Clodd, (Chapman & Hall, London, 1920. Pp. 238. Price 12s. 6d.).
Review by: E. J.
It can be said at once of this book that it should be in every psycho-analytical library. It is an exceedingly valuable collection of material, well ordered and clearly expounded. The author wisely confines himself mainly to the presentation of this material, adding but little in the way of comment or explanation.
He begins with a description of the wide-spread belief in mana, in the power of influencing the world by non-natural processes, one probably identical with what in psycho-analysis is termed "the belief in the omnipotence of thought" (Allmacht der Gedanken). How astonished anthropologists would be to know what a mana -like attitude is shown by the unconscious mind of the normal civilised adult!
The author describes how this belief is attached, first to concrete parts of the person such as the blood, hair, teeth, saliva, and so on, then to less material objects like the portrait, shadow, reflection, echo, and so leads up to the main theme of his work, the ideas and feelings of magic attaching to names of all sorts. This is subdivided into sections on personal names, names of relatives, birth names, initiation names, euphemisms, names of kings and priests, names of the dead, and names of gods. It becomes clear that the primitive mind attaches a perfectly extraordinary significance to names, and treats them on the one hand as concrete things in themselves and on the other as integral representatives of the personality. The belief, for instance, that it is safer to conceal one's name, and that possession of it by an enemy gives him complete power over one, is to be met with in all parts of the world.
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