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Devereux, G. (1951). Psychoanalysis and Anthropology: By Géza Róheim, Ph.D. New York: International Universities Press, 1950. 496 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 20:453-457.

(1951). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 20:453-457

Psychoanalysis and Anthropology: By Géza Róheim, Ph.D. New York: International Universities Press, 1950. 496 pp.

Review by:
George Devereux

This latest and best work of Dr. Róheim is perhaps the most important contribution to the problem of the relationship between psychoanalysis and anthropology since Totem and Taboo.

One of the most eminent students of culture, A. L. Kroeber, who is also psychoanalytically sophisticated, has characterized psychoanalysis as a 'reductionist' science, in that it attempts to trace culture back to psychology, and psychology back to biology. In this respect psychoanalysis satisfies Émile Myerson's theory of explanations. However, Myerson justly warns that the complete reduction of phenomenon A to a set of other phenomena B, C, and D implies a denial of the existence of phenomenon A. In a sense deviations from scientific psychoanalysis have been reductionistic in the sense of reductio ad absurdum in two directions: on the one hand we find the culturalist excesses; on the other, we meet with the biologistic excesses, with 'neurologizing psychiatry'. Both schools appeal to the authority of Freud and of reality, as a means of circumventing both Freud and reality.

Róheim's approach avoids both pitfalls with the sureness of touch characteristic of a past master of psychoanalysis and anthropology alike. His approach is firmly rooted in the psychological universe of discourse, and reaches out to biological and cultural phenomena in terms of this frame of reference. He does not waste time claiming an exclusive, sui generis 'existence' for the psychological fact.

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