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Devereux, G. (1950). Mohave Indian Autoerotic Behavior. Psychoanal. Rev., 37(3):201-220.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Review, 37(3):201-220

Original Articles

Mohave Indian Autoerotic Behavior

George Devereux, Ph.D.

Psychoanalysts familiar with the elusiveness of both factual and fantasy material pertaining to masturbation (23) will not be surprised to learn that the anthropologist experiences considerable difficulties in investigating the autoerotic practices of even so uninhibited a tribe as the Mohave Indians. The reticence of the Mohave about masturbation is, perhaps, best illustrated by the fact that even O: otc, whom public opinion brands as a kamalo: y, flatly denied all mastur-batory practices, past and present, although, after some hesitations, she spoke with considerable frankness of her heterosexual activities (9). [The kamalo: y is a promiscuous woman who, at the same time, is also offensive, overbearing, phallic and generally obnoxious. The Mohave sharply differentiate between the kamalo: y on the one hand, and, on the other hand, promiscuous women who are, as the saying goes, “a bad lot but a good sort”, or whose promiscuousness is due to a neurosis. In the case of the kamalo:y, promiscuousness is viewed as one of the manifestations of the woman's general “worth-lessness” (9).] The same reticence was also manifested by a maladjusted boy of 10 or 12. (Case 2).

It is also significant that whereas it was possible to record in detail many scabrous sexual incidents, narrated in the first person singular, only meager autobiographical accounts of masturbation could be secured from children, and none at all from adults. Hence, due to a lack of detailed data, many of the subtler aspects of the psychodynamics of Mohave masturbation continue to escape scientific analysis.

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