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Baudry, F. (1973). Géza Róheim Et L'Essor De L'Anthropologie Psychanalytique (Géza Róheim and the Development of Psychoanalytic Anthropology): By Roger Dadoun. Paris: Petite Bibliothèque Payot, 1972. 320 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 42:643-644.
(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:643-644
Géza Róheim Et L'Essor De L'Anthropologie Psychanalytique (Géza Róheim and the Development of Psychoanalytic Anthropology): By Roger Dadoun. Paris: Petite Bibliothèque Payot, 1972. 320 pp.
Review by: Francis Baudry
Roger Dadoun, a French lay writer, has written a well composed, thoughtful book on Géza Róheim and psychoanalytic anthropology. Although this work was written for the educated lay person, some knowledge of psychoanalysis and the early mentors of Róheim (Abraham, Ferenczi, and Melanie Klein) is necessary if one is to follow the closely knit development of Róheim's contributions to the field of psychoanalytic anthropology.
Beginning with an exposition of Freud's Totem and Taboo, Dadoun proceeds to trace the development of Róheim's career. A brief anecdote contributed by Róheim will illustrate its main motif. Shortly before his death in 1953 he was invited to an old friend's home. The latter conversing with a younger colleague, asked him: '"Does psychoanalytic anthropology really exist?". The young colleague smiled and looked at me. I then thought, "has my life been all for naught?"'
Bred in the ferment of the early years of the century in Budapest, Róheim was able within a relatively short life time (1891-1953) to lay the foundation of a psychoanalytic anthropology based on field studies by analytically trained observers. Drawn to primitive Australian tribes, Róheim developed an intensely personal relationship with them. He loved them; they in turn confided in him their thoughts, dreams, fantasies, and rituals.
Dadoun clearly outlines Róheim's seminal discoveries, the fascinating raw data which raises so many puzzling questions. Seen historically one can understand the emphasis placed on interpretation of unconscious sexual fantasies. Most of the rituals and customs (e.g., subincision, phallic worship) are so openly instinctual—both sexual and aggressive—that the contemporary observer must wonder about the defensive structure and adaptive aspects of such culturally sanctioned behavior. Consider for example the mother's habit in certain cultures of lying naked on top of her young child and laughing at his erection—or the grandmother's sucking the penis of the young infant. It is difficult for the Western observer not to be terribly biased and culture bound when reading about such customs.
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