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Grinker, R.R., III Grinker, R.R., Jr. (1993). Cultural Translation and Psychoanalytic Interpretation: An African Transformation of the Cain and Abel Story. Ann. Psychoanal., 21:259-276.

(1993). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 21:259-276

IV Applied Psychoanalysis

Cultural Translation and Psychoanalytic Interpretation: An African Transformation of the Cain and Abel Story

Roy Richard Grinker, III, Ph.D. and Roy Richard Grinker, Jr., M.D.

At night in the villages of the Lese of northeastern Zaire, men and their children gather under leaf and bamboo roofs. As they warm themselves by the fire, their wives, sisters, and mothers come to sit at its edge in the hope that they will be able to hear the many stories the men are about to tell their children. The Lese stories shock even the trained anthropologist, for as the stories unfold it becomes clear that there are no happy endings, no princes and princesses who marry and live happily ever after. The stories seem to have little in common with the folktales that our own parents told us and that we tell our children today. Instead, the stories are, almost without exception, tragedies with unhappy endings and gruesome and violent plots. In one story, a woman's siblings suffocate her with diarrhea, and after she is buried she is exhumed and raped by a phallic spirit; she succeeds in castrating the spirit only to die another horrible death. In another story, an evil spirit enters into a man's body and causes it to explode.

It is impossible to listen to these stories and not be affected, indeed made anxious, by their content.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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