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Riggall, R.M. (1924). General: H. G. Baynes. Primitive Mentality and the Unconscious. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1924, Vol. IV, p. 32.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:478-479.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: General: H. G. Baynes. Primitive Mentality and the Unconscious. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1924, Vol. IV, p. 32.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:478-479

General: H. G. Baynes. Primitive Mentality and the Unconscious. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1924, Vol. IV, p. 32.

Robert M. Riggall

The object of this paper is to discover whether knowledge of primitive mentality can justify the formation of synthetic or intuitional conceptions of the unconscious. A prelogical or irrational characteristic is common to both. This point of view is based on the views of the Zürich school, which postulates that the myth can only be fully understood by an intuitional or prelogical attitude, and that mythological formations are invaluable in the shaping of instinctual attitude to experience. The importance attached to the racial unconscious, and the theory of survival of racial inheritance is corroborated by Lévy-Bruhl. In the prelogical psyche the author observes a quite irrational indifference to the real nature of objective facts. The almost mystical relationship existing between the primitive and the objects of his environment is based on a subject-object identification by which he is intuitionally informed of objects, apart from cognition. Primitive man lives in a world determined by his subjective representations. The primitive in a state of mystical participation fails to see himself or others objectively. Examples of myths of transformation and metempsychosis are given in which there is some mystical function occurring between subject and object. Baynes produces Haldane's biological theory of relativity in support of his thesis. Haldane postulates an unanalysable relation between the living organism and its environment which agrees with Lévy-Bruhl's concept, 'Participation mystique'. Fear of the unknown dominates the primitive mentality; this explains why objects that are known acquire a magical significance. The projection of the subject into the environment is a defence against the unfamiliar. The theme of transformation is always accompanied by the symbolism of sacrifice. It is thought that dreams of animals and insects which undergo metamorphosis point to corresponding transformation processes in psychological development. In the author's opinion the term sublimation does not describe this process. Transformed libido achieves a newer and more advanced integration, in which sense it differs from the mere arbitrary canalization into more civilized channels. This process of transformation is in conflict with the inertia which fights against change. From this it is concluded that

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unconscious mythological activity shapes the instinctual attitude to life; this is the main purpose of analysis from the standpoint of the Zürich school. The solution of the sexual problem is the greatest test upon character; this is beautifully illustrated in Flecker's play Hassan. Effective relationship to the world hinges upon the release of energy vested in sexuality. The energic process of the analytical transference is related to the process of moral reintegration which should be the objective in this particular form of analysis. The individual attitude towards an objective situation denotes a characteristic state of libido tension. Baynes states that he has used the term 'prelogical psyche' to include both the primitive psyche and civilised unconscious mentality, because he has been unable to discovery any essential difference between the two. He admits the provisional nature of concepts such as the collective unconscious and mystical participation. The paper concludes by contrasting the intuitional function of synthesis with the purely intellectual or analytical approach, and extols Jung for taking the first step to overthrow the mechanistic conception of vital phenomena.

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Article Citation

Riggall, R.M. (1924). General. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:478-479

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