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Kracke, W.H. (1986). Freud and Anthropology. A History and Reappraisal. (Psychological Issues Monograph 55.): By Edwin R. Wallace, IV. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1983. 306 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 55:174-179.

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(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:174-179

Freud and Anthropology. A History and Reappraisal. (Psychological Issues Monograph 55.): By Edwin R. Wallace, IV. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1983. 306 pp.

Waud H. Kracke Author Information

It has been fashionable in recent years to argue that Freud's theoretical writing, at least his metapsychology, was rooted primarily in an underlying neurological model. His interest in anthropology has always been seen as a peripheral pursuit, an exercise in extending psychoanalytic ideas beyond the clinical domain in which they were being formulated. Edwin Wallace turns all this around. He argues that anthropology was not only a consuming interest of Freud's, but one that played a significant part in the formulation of some of his major clinical concepts.

As a historical study of Freud's thinking, Wallace's work is an impressive contribution to the history of ideas. The well-argued thesis just mentioned certainly must have an impact on the exegesis of Freud's metapsychology, both for an understanding of its place in the history of ideas and as a part of the rethinking of metapsychological issues that is in progress these days.

But Wallace's work aspires to more than this. Wallace is not only concerned with an evaluation of Freud's use of anthropological sources available to him, but he is also interested in evaluating the impact of Freud's ideas (largely as presented in Totem and Taboo) on anthropology since his time. Even more daringly (since it is further afield from Wallace's own historical and psychoanalytic training), it aspires to an evaluation of the validity of Freud's basic postulates about primitive thought in terms of present-day anthropological thinking. In some of these aspirations Wallace succeeds; in others he is less successful. An adequate review discussing all of the issues he addresses would require an essay much longer than the space allotted here. Therefore, I shall leave Wallace's review of the anthropological scene of Freud's time and of Freud's use of his anthropological sources to those who are more qualified to comment on them (except to say that I agree with him that the evolutionist assumptions Freud made about primitive societies did indeed characterize much of the anthropological literature of the decades before Totem and Taboo). I shall focus my comments on the topics that occupy the last two-thirds of Wallace's book: his discussion of the reactions among anthropologists to Freud's ideas on primitive society, his attempt to evaluate the issues raised by

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