In discussing the psychology of kinship and descent in a matrilineal society it is noted that in the Trobrianders the most important factor is the belief that the man does not contribute in any way to the building up of the child's body. These natives are quite ignorant of the man's share in the begetting of children, the father having a purely social definition. Until the child grows up, the word tama (father) does not differ essentially from the word 'father' in our sense, but afterwards the
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child realizes that he is not of the same clan as his tama, that his totemic appellation is different, and is identical with that of his mother. The mother's brother becomes more important than the father, and the father's authority wanes. In discussing the male and female organism and the sexual impulse in native belief, it is found that their physiological views are very crude. The eyes are the seat of desire and lust, and are the cause of sexual passion. The kidneys are highly important, because they are the source of the seminal fluid, which, however, does not possess any generative value. No physiological rôle is recognized in the testis. While sexual desire resides in the eyes, love or affection springs from the intestines and the skin of the abdomen and arms. Life springs from the spirit world, all children being incarnated spirits. The real cause of childbirth is the spirit initiative from Tuma, the Island of the Dead. The spirit children are attached to drift logs or small stones on the sea bottom, and girls will often not enter the water for fear they might conceive. If a woman wishes to conceive, a maternal kinsman must scoop some water and leave it over-night in her hut. The spirit becomes a pre-born infant, and this becomes reincarnated into a human being. In this process identity of personality is not preserved, but there is continuity of clan and sub-clan. Sexual connection is not considered necessary in order to produce children, but a virgin cannot conceive until her hymen has been ruptured, and the ordinary way of doing this is by sexual intercourse. In spite of much sexual freedom very few illegitimate children are born, and the author inquires if there is a physiological law which makes conception less likely when women begin their sexual activity early in life, lead it indefatigably, and mix their lovers. The author thinks that if these beliefs on procreation and reincarnation be studied in their bearing upon the organization of kinship, their importance becomes obvious. He believes that the ignorance of paternity is an original feature of primitive psychology, and that in all speculations about the origins of marriage and the evolution of sexual customs we must bear in mind this fundamental ignorance.
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Riggall, R.M. (1924). Sexuality. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:367-368