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Rahman, L. (1954). Samiksa. IV, 1951: Atypical and Deviant Mohave Marriages. George Devereux. Pp. 200-215.. Psychoanal Q., 23:297-298.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Samiksa. IV, 1951: Atypical and Deviant Mohave Marriages. George Devereux. Pp. 200-215.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:297-298

Samiksa. IV, 1951: Atypical and Deviant Mohave Marriages. George Devereux. Pp. 200-215.

Lincoln Rahman

The usual Mohave marriage is defined as the sharing of a residence together. Since most such 'marriages' are of short duration, an atypical marriage might be one of an unusually short or long duration, or one where both spouses were either completely faithful or utterly promiscuous. Deviant marriage are considered to be those deviating from the accepted tribal custom, such as marriages between the young and old where economic factors play a predominant role, or marriages with transvestites. Polygyny, always more or less exceptional, is now obsolete among the Mohave and has been replaced by successive monogamy, inextricably intermingled with constant adultery.

In aboriginal times, the marriage of a young man to an old woman was almost unknown. Young men then were almost afraid of old women, and even avoided marriage to a woman who already had two or three children. To counteract this, some old women tried to give presents to young boys to lure them into marriage, but most boys continued afraid of them. In spite of social disapproval, such marriages have become more frequent in recent times; in fact, it is now typical for a young divorced or widowed man to marry his former mother-in-law, probably because old women work harder and are better housewives than the young ones. Some men, tired of being neglected by their flighty and fickle young wives, even go so far as to marry transvestites, who, in order to attract 'husbands', work very hard and try to be exceptionally proficient housewives. Young men just out of the government boarding school are usually so sex starved that they hastily marry the first old woman. It is only after a few years, when no longer sexually starved, that they devote at least a few days to courting a young girl just out of boarding school. As a result, it is common for girls just out of school to marry older, more experienced, and sometimes quite unattractive men. Both such hasty types of marriage are usually unsatisfactory and increase still further the notorious instability of Mohave marriages. The new day-school system, which is now replacing the boarding schools where the young are kept apart, may bring about a return to a more normal state.

The libidinal cathexes of the younger Mohave, living in unsettled conditions, tend to be somewhat labile, so that the opportunity to establish a fairly settled relation with an older, domestically inclined woman may outweigh the attractiveness of younger women, especially since the older woman as a rule will permit more philandering on the part of the husband. The marriage relationship is characterized by a certain degree of casualness or even opportunism, due to several factors. 1. The instability of Mohave homes does not provide the child with a continuous and restricted human environment, and this prevents it from developing intense and concentrated Oedipal attachments; the libido is thus invested in a diffuse, if not precisely fragmentary, manner. 2. The Mohave child's

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breadth of social experience tends to bring about a wide diffusion of libido over the society as a whole, preventing any obsessive and intense love involvements.

The older custom by which poor and neglected young girl children marry prosperous old men is now obsolete but this blessing is not unmitigated; nowadays some poor neglected girls are merely promiscuous instead. Economic factors and a striving for security played an important role in such marriages to old but prosperous and industrious men. Such child wives were often either infantilized by their old husbands, who did all their work, including even the cooking, or else they came from shiftless families who had failed to train them early for active domesticity. Both the old husband and the young wife of such unions were teased by others with remarks having more or less overt reference to incest, showing that such marriages differed rather sharply from the general run, in which the husband usually valued a wife more for her domestic services than for her amorous and sexual potentialities.

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Article Citation

Rahman, L. (1954). Samiksa. IV, 1951. Psychoanal. Q., 23:297-298

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