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Hadley, E.E. (1927). The Origin of the Incest Taboo. Psychoanal. Rev., 14(3):298-316.

(1927). Psychoanalytic Review, 14(3):298-316

The Origin of the Incest Taboo

Ernest E. Hadley

In the selection of the clinical material for this discussion we have been motivated to keep it in relation to certain of the current problems of genetic psychology. The point of view hereinafter expressed encompasses those phases of the self whence is derived the Pleasure Principle of Professor Freud, Abraham's auto-erotic stage of self-sufficiency, the intra-uterine comfort situation of Ferenzi and the Cosmos Preconcept described by Sullivan as a content of universal subjective participation to which the term omnipotence might be applied. We make no attempt to exemplify or nullify the views of these or others who have contributed so largely to psychopathology, nor shall we present apology, rather appreciation, to those from whom background for our considerations might be said to be derived. We see that an attempt has been made to arrive at the genesis of events to which misapplications in life may be related. And we shall undertake to show from the nature of the affective strivings generally observed that attention should be directed to sources universally experienced intra-utero. This intra-uterine affective state is at first relatively undifferentiated but with the rapid maturation of the neural apparatus sensory data embracing a totality of somatic changes begins to be received. The satisfactory nature of this state, which antedates an appreciation of the self, is thrown into relief by the distortion incident to the birth process. The overwhelming nature of the emotional upheaval accompanying the prodroma to this event may be, if only dimly, realized in our notions of Angst, Death, Evil, and Pain. Regardless of the actual felt comfort-pleasure of the undisturbed intra-uterine state, it takes on illimitable values from the last ghastly pre-natal experience. All later states of pleasure and pain are seen as ecphoria of these primal—pre-natal—experiences. We will find reason to refer to this pleasure-comfort situation the all-inclusive character of which may be related to the Cosmos.

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