Erlenmeyer sees cannibalistic, destructive fantasies as regressive phenomena surfacing particularly at times of separation, when an established psychic or world order is threatened by chaos. He divides his paper into five parts.
In part one, ‘Associations’, he presents a collection of world-wide newspaper cuttings, where cannibalistic fantasies (for example, eating versus being eaten) are quite transparent, especially at times of tension between nations; also in news describing the ever-increasing organ transplant trade.
In part two he concentrates on the time of America's discovery. He uses splitting and projection to explain the ensuing conqueror's mentality, when set against a new and therefore threatening, order of the world, one that is ‘paradisaical’ and can give rise to envy and possibly hatred of the colonialist's own repressive home upbringing. It is then precisely those negative feelings that must be controlled and subjugated ‘over there’, leading to the white man's exploitative and destructive ‘cannibalising’ of the native man.
Part three he calls ‘Actual cannibalism’, though he regrets not being able to include more anthropological and ethnological material, for lack of space. He is aware of the work of mourning in himself while working through his theme.
In part four he goes through psychoanalytic writings, starting with Freud's essay, ‘Totem and taboo’, where the brothers, having killed the original father, proceed to the communal feast.
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