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Foss, T. (2013). Freud 100 years ago. Totem and Taboo (1912–1913). Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 36(1):1-4.

(2013). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 36(1):1-4

Editorial Column

Freud 100 years ago. Totem and Taboo (1912–1913)

Torberg Foss

Sexuality and the way in which we relate to it, is undergoing many changes. In the editorial in the last issue of The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, we commented on 50 Shades of Grey. A move towards more openness some would say. Others react less enthusiastically to the way sex surrounds us. Even at the grocery store, we stumble into stacks of this book. Food, sex: needs simply to be satisfied, the one as natural as the other.

However, an opposite tendency demands also to be noticed and is equally worth a commentary. For concurrent to this seemingly more open attitude towards sexuality, a process of desexualization presents itself. As the techniques of artificial fertilization are advanced, insemination, egg fertilization, and the latest, the use of mother surrogates, preferably from the Third World, the long-established link between sexuality and reproduction, appears more tenuous.

Recently a Norwegian doctor, who has had a leading position in this field of medicine, was interviewed in a newspaper. One of the most troublesome aspects of his work, he said, what had actually prompted him to leave his job, had been all the efforts being made to prevent these children from finding their fathers. He had in mind a period when semen donators were to be anonymous, before the law was changed in 2005.

The excluding of the father, and thereby the de-sexualization of reproduction, are two striking features of a development, about which psychoanalysts should have had their say. It is at least an appropriate occasion to mark the anniversary of Totem and Taboo (Freud, 1913).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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