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Meerloo, J.A. (1963). The First Woman on the Couch: Reflections on the Archaic Roots of the Word, Love. Psychoanal. Rev., 50A(1):81-85.

(1963). Psychoanalytic Review, 50A(1):81-85

The First Woman on the Couch: Reflections on the Archaic Roots of the Word, Love

Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D.

Man's self-expression in creative art must be as old as his communication through words and written tokens. We often find in the sculptured images of the past a clearer intuitive expression of what was felt and experienced than in the more sophisticated approximation of the written and the printed word.

I have before me a pre-Colombian terracotta figure from the Tarascan region in northwest Mexico. I am immensely moved by it. The little status originates from the Tarascan culture (14th century A.D.) that remained rather independent from the Aztec domination. The sculpture shows us a woman bound to a bed or a couch. Her expression is full of resignation. There are many such examples known in the ancient Tarascan art. Most probably these tied-up women were prepared and destined for the annual ceremonial human sacrifice. Among the Aztecs, for example, it was known that in one year more than 70,000 people were offered to the gods.

We often make a mistake by calling these archaic rituals merely cruel and savage, forgetting that it is only a few years ago that millions and millions of our contemporaries were taken to the gas chambers of Hider's Moloch.

Many of those ancient sacrifices were done voluntarily out of “love” to the deity.

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