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Mayman, M. (1982). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 1(4):499-502.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 1(4):499-502


Martin Mayman, Ph.D.

Most of us grew up secure in the knowledge that the dawn of history, the beginning of our civilization, occurred in Mesopotamia on the shores of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers about 5000 b.c. But recently, a major archaeological find in Laos yielded artifacts of a highly developed civilization that was at its peak about 7000 b.c., 2,000 years earlier than the date that was once thought to mark the dawn of civilization.

Similarly, it has long been assumed that Homo sapiens bade his apelike cousins a final evolutionary farewell about a million years ago. But the recent work of Leakey at Laetoli near Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge indicates that man's early forebears go back in time much further than that, at least 3.75 million years. Paleoanthropology, like archaeology, has radically revised our views regarding the dawn of mankind's history.

The successful voyages of the space shuttle give new promise that we will soon roll back yet another curtain. Radio telescopes in outer space will soon enable us to “see” out to the furthest reaches of the universe: to galaxies as they appeared 16 billion or more years ago. We will in a sense be recording events that occurred close to the dawn of the universe itself.

This issue of Psychoanalytic Inquiry deals with still another beginning whose chronology scientists have recently rewritten: the dawn of awareness in the life of each human being. We draw together in this issue some of those investigators who are seeking major breakthroughs in that scientific frontier, which, though it is perhaps the closest to us of all, is the one we know least about. The hazy lineaments of evolving consciousness are gradually coming into clearer focus as researchers apply increasingly sophisticated methodologies to its study.


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