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Weiss, R.W. (1992). Dirty Words: Psychoanalytic Insights: By Ariel C. Arango, M.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1989. 232 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 61:503-504.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:503-504

Dirty Words: Psychoanalytic Insights: By Ariel C. Arango, M.D. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1989. 232 pp.

Review by:
Richard W. Weiss

The focus of this relatively unsophisticated book is that "dirty" or obscene words are taboo because they evoke the sensual, incestuous, and bodily pleasures of childhood. Arango asserts that it is the moral repugnance regarding those pleasures that leads to repression and hence to neurosis. That same repugnance is felt toward the obscene words that have the power to evoke visual imagery, memories, and affects related to childhood wishes. With that in mind, Arango advocates the public acceptance of obscene words as an ally to a greater acceptance of culturally warded-off incestuous wishes. He further notes that a patient's use of obscene words to describe excretory and sexual functioning is an indispensable part of every analysis.

The book is divided into chapters each of which is on the "dirty" word for: genitals, intercourse, masturbation, excretory functions, etc. In each chapter, the author documents the import of the denied pleasures, with references to art, literature, and history. The chapter on feces and urine, for example, addresses the coprophagic practices of various religious sects, the powers ascribed to the diapers of the Christ child, and the anal erotism depicted by the Marquis de Sade. The author's goal is to underscore how our present-day "adult" aversion to anality is cultural and moral—not natural. (There is also a general implication that earlier civilizations, especially pre-Judeo-Christian antiquity, were, rightly, more tolerant of the sensual pleasures of childhood.)

The chapter, "The Voluptuous Mother," is a discussion of the curse, "son of a whore."

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