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Róheim, G. (1922). The Significance of Stepping Over. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:320-326.

(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:320-326

The Significance of Stepping Over

Géza Róheim

The analysis of the case reported by Dr. Sokolnicka is in my opinion of quite special interest, since the starting-point of the individual neurosis, the trauma, consists in a popular belief. In the first place this case again demonstrates the essential identity of the individual and the collective form of repression of primal impulses, and secondly, it suggests the hope that individual analysis and social anthropology may in this case be employed to elucidate each other.

The outbreak of the phobia was occasioned by the statement of the nurse: 'A child must not be lifted through a window because then it will not grow any more'. In Mecklenburg there is a saying: 'One must not pass a child through a window, or it will stop growing'; and also: 'A person who is still growing must not step in or out through a window, unless he returns by the same way'.

If anyone passes a child to another person through an opening which is so low that a grown person cannot stand in it, as through a window or a trap-door, the child must be passed back through this same opening or it will not subsequently attain full growth. In Holstein, Mecklenburg, Silesia, East Prussia and Thuringia, babes at the breast must not be handed through a window, and if a child is lifted through a window, it must be passed back through the same window or it will not grow (East Prussia, Wetterau, Brandenburg, Baden, Swabia), or it will become a thief (Baden, Silesia). Further, it must always be carried into a room feet foremost (Silesia).

But yet another phobia of the child described by Dr.

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