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Róheim, G. (1956). The Individual, the Group, and Mankind. Psychoanal Q., 25:1-10.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:1-10

The Individual, the Group, and Mankind

Géza Róheim, Ph.D.

Anthropological theory of personality and culture is based on two mutually dependent assumptions. The first is that society molds the individual into a pattern which, while it may not be ego syntonic and very often is not, fosters the continuity of the culture; the second is that the individual re-creates the society in which he lives by re-enforcing those cultural patterns by which he finds himself surrounded and which, to some extent, aid him in solving or sublimating his own infantile conflicts.

I did some of the first work in this field when in 1929, while living with the Aranda and some of the Luritya-speaking groups of Central Australia, I found a correspondence between the dreams, the marriage customs, and the customs of child-rearing among these people.

Two men told me that if a man dreams of an alknarintja woman, he must awaken as soon as he can. The alknarintja makes the dreamer lie on his back. She then sits on his penis and cohabits with him in the inverted position. She forces him to take the role of the female. The Australian natives practice coitus in the inverted position at times, but the men are frightened of it. They fear that the penis may be broken. The alknarintja woman is always taboo because of the rules that guard against violating the taboo of incest. She is a semimythical concept. At times the Australians say that every woman is an alknarintja; at other times they say that the alknarintja are supernatural beings. Analysis of their dreams reveals that the alknarintja is the mother.

An alknarintja can be wooed by two methods: magic and rape. For our purposes, it is sufficient to discuss only the latter.

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