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Devereux, G. (1954). Primitive Genital Mutilations in a Neurotic's Dream. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:484-493.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:484-493

Primitive Genital Mutilations in a Neurotic's Dream

George Devereux, Ph.D.

The uniformity of the human psyche is one of the most fundamental tenets of psychoanalysis (6). Unfortunately, it is sometimes challenged by certain anthropologists on the grounds that some obviously basic ideas or practices do not have a universal distribution. We already indicated elsewhere (7) that this seemingly telling criticism is logically both spurious and illegitimate. Indeed, when the manifest beliefs of a given tribe seemingly fail to confirm some fundamental psychoanalytic theorem, these critics feel that they have refuted psychoanalysis, and therefore make no attempt to examine what other psychic mechanisms may have counteracted, distorted or inhibited the overt manifestation of the mechanism or fantasy under consideration. The failure of these critics to investigate these modifying forces suggests that they are inclined to ignore the existence of repressions and of unconscious fantasies, perhaps because of a latent conviction that, once one leaves the occidental culture area, one may expect to find in every single tribe, out in the open, all that which is severely repressed in our own culture. Thus, these critics apparently tacitly assume that primitive cultures are instinctual paradises, and that primitives have no repressions.

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