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Róheim, G. (1943). The Mountain Arapesh, II. Supernaturalism: By Margaret Mead. Anthoropological Papers of the American Musem of Natural History, Vol. XXXVII, Part II, 1940, pp. 310–454.. Psychoanal Q., 12:425-427.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:425-427

The Mountain Arapesh, II. Supernaturalism: By Margaret Mead. Anthoropological Papers of the American Musem of Natural History, Vol. XXXVII, Part II, 1940, pp. 310–454.

Review by:
Géza Róheim

Any publication by Margaret Mead is important for two reasons. One reason is that the author is one of the best anthropological field workers; consequently the facts recorded by her are bound to be both abundant and significant. The other is that in her theoretical approach she is willing, with certain reservations, to make use of psychoanalytic insight and therefore her conclusions interest us quite as much as her facts.

We are familiar with the general attitude of the Arapesh from the author's book on Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935). The Arapesh are the people who exclude, or seem to exclude aggression from the approved forms of behavior. They are kind and loving and altruistic and concerned mainly with making everything grow: children, pigs, yams, and so on. Dr. Mead emphasizes that the character of the Arapesh is oral and brings conclusive evidence in support of her view. Arapesh children play with their lips far in excess of lip play observed elsewhere. Conflicts are expressed in terms of food. A wife belongs to her husband and obeys him because he has 'grown her' by feeding her from a preadolescent stage. Too passionate sexual activity and 'eating carelessly' are equated (pp. 330, 332). 'The Arapesh have a very vivid sense of the contribution which food makes to the body and of its intimate connection with the body.' A piece of food left over is therefore suitable material for sorcery because it is tied to the victim by a living bond. Fæces and urine are not used for this purpose except in the case of little children when they become smeared on the skin and so partake of its nature (p. 347).

There is probably a direct link between this oral emphasis and the outstanding trait of their culture, the growth idea.

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