Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To access “The Standard Edition” of Freud’s work…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

You can directly access Strachey’s The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud through the Books tab on the left side of the PEP-Web screen.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Kilborne, B. (1986). Oedipus in the Trobriands: By Melford E. Spiro. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 1982. 200 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 55:319-323.

Welcome to PEP Web!

Viewing the full text of this document requires a subscription to PEP Web.

If you are coming in from a university from a registered IP address or secure referral page you should not need to log in. Contact your university librarian in the event of problems.

If you have a personal subscription on your own account or through a Society or Institute please put your username and password in the box below. Any difficulties should be reported to your group administrator.


Can't remember your username and/or password? If you have forgotten your username and/or password please click here and log in to the PaDS database. Once there you need to fill in your email address (this must be the email address that PEP has on record for you) and click "Send." Your username and password will be sent to this email address within a few minutes. If this does not work for you please contact your group organizer.

OpenAthens or federation user? Login here.

Not already a subscriber? Order a subscription today.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:319-323

Oedipus in the Trobriands: By Melford E. Spiro. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 1982. 200 pp.

Review by:
Benjamin Kilborne

In 1927 when Bronislaw Malinowski, the British social anthropologist of Polish origin, published his Sex and Repression in Savage Society, he could not have imagined the fate of his book. Although he claimed that in this work he "established that Freud's theories not only roughly correspond to human psychology, but that they follow closely the modifications in human nature brought about by the various constitutions of society" (Sex and Repression, pp. 81-82), he was read by an overwhelming majority of both anthropologists and psychoanalysts as openly hostile to psychoanalysis. Ernest Jones saw in the book a challenge, which he took up with typical zeal. What came to be known as the Malinowski-Jones debate produced invective, defensiveness, and rigidity among both anthropologists and psychoanalysts. This obscured the importance of Malinowski's attempt—the first by an anthropologist—to "test" Freud's ideas about the oedipus complex and about family dynamics in the field. Malinowski was the first major figure to tackle the fundamental issue of the universal, cultural configurations of what he understood Freud to have meant.

Sensing a need to "draw in more systematically the correlation between biological and social influences" (Sex and Repression, p. 82), Malinowski established a correlation between the basic type of social structure ("patriarchy" or "matriarchy") and family dynamics. He maintained that European (and American) patriarchal (patrilineal) social structure produced an oedipus complex of the kind Freud described, whereas the matriarchal (matrilineal) structure of Trobriand society produced another variant of the nuclear complex.

"In the Trobriands," wrote Malinowski, "there is no friction between father and son, and all the infantile craving of the child for its mother is allowed gradually to spend itself in a natural, spontaneous manner" (Sex and Repression, p. 80). Malinowski's explanation for this cultural difference between European and Trobriands societies revolved around the intensity in the latter of brother-sister


1 Malinowski, B. (1927): Sex and Repression in Savage Society. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.

- 319 -

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2017, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.