Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To suggest new content…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Help us improve PEP Web. If you would like to suggest new content, click here and fill in the form with your ideas!

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Schwartz, P.J. (2016). The Phylogenetic Legacy of Freud's Totem ProtoGod. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(1):185-186.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(1):185-186

The Phylogenetic Legacy of Freud's Totem ProtoGod

Paul J. Schwartz, M.D.

Dear Editor,

Freud's seminal contributions regarding the phylogenetic origin and evolution of human civilization, religion, and the Oedipus complex were first outlined in Totem and Taboo (Freud, 1913). Freud postulated that hominid history was forever changed when a clan of embittered savage adolescent brothers rose up and killed their brutal, tyrannical, yet loved father, but then for the first time in hominid history, the savages became stricken with a sufficient quantity of guilt such that it required expiation. Thus, to allay their sense of guilt, the savages elevated a chosen animal to the status of a sacred totem protoGod - a feared and revered symbol of their slain father - and instituted totem law, which included prohibitions on murder and incest within the clan. Freud hypothesized that the clan's savage women were mainly spectators in this patricidal drama, after which they nevertheless enjoyed and promoted the increased freedom and social order commanded by (projected onto) their new totem protoGod.

Freud hypothesized that the enlightened clan's new social-religious structure based on this excess of male patricidal guilt proved to be adaptively superior to the prevailing social structures of the more degenerate clans, such that over many eons, the primal guilty patricidal act and its attendant elevation of the totem protoGod was perpetuated throughout the land and inherited phylogenetically (either by Lamarckian or, as he later conceded, by Darwinian mechanisms; Freud, 1987), ultimately becoming the genetically expressed blueprint for the modern child's Oedipal object relations program - complete with built-in patricidal rage, guilt, and an internalized father God imago.

[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.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.