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Devereux, G. (1939). The Social and Cultural Implications of Incest Among the Mohave Indians. Psychoanal Q., 8:510-533.

(1939). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 8:510-533

The Social and Cultural Implications of Incest Among the Mohave Indians

George Devereux

Certain aspects of the problem of incest had been deemed of the utmost importance for the understanding of cultural and social dynamics long before the epoch making discoveries of Freud. Unfortunately the discussions of social anthropologists centered chiefly about the negative aspects of incest such as exogamy and incest taboos in the most formal and impersonal sense of the word. Anthropological literature is strangely lacking in concrete data concerning the occurrence of incest. With the exception of a few brilliant anthropologists like Malinowski (1), field workers have provided us with nothing but elaborate listings of taboos.

It remained for Freud to discover the importance of the positive aspects of incest in individuals as well as its social and cultural dynamics. Unfortunately, due to the inherent deficiencies of anthropological field reports, psychoanalysts have had to generalize mainly from data obtained from the western cultures, and have therefore been unable to formulate generalizations valid beyond the frontiers of those cultures.

It is the purpose of this essay to analyze in terms of Mohave culture, data about the Mohave Indians collected by the writer, and to trace the ramifications of incest in all phases of that culture.

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