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Groves, E.R. (1917). Freudian Elements in the Animism of the Niger Delta. Psychoanal. Rev., 4(3):333-338.

(1917). Psychoanalytic Review, 4(3):333-338

Freudian Elements in the Animism of the Niger Delta

Ernest R. Groves

The fascinating article entitled “Compulsion Neurosis and Primitive Culture” which recently appeared in the psychoanalytic review proved as interesting to the sociologist as it must have been revealing to the alienist. The student of social customs was impressed by it because it disclosed the valuable contributions that studies of primitive philosophy and religion may be expected to make to the rapidly developing science of human conduct. It is probably not too much to say that any faithful and penetrating portrayal of animism, the first expression of primitive man's effort to organize his experience into a system, will most certainly illustrate some of the principles of Freudianism.

We have a very able and sympathetic interpretation of contemporary animism which certainly does prove valuable reading for the investigator of primitive conduct and thinking. I refer to the unusually discerning study of the religion of the western African tribes of the lower Niger written by Major Arthur Leonard. It is replete with important information for the student of mind and contains statements of special interest to the Freudian psychologist.

The character of these western African folk is such as to cause one to expect their religion to yield material of value for study by the abnormal psychologists, for Leonard states that they are, as a people, clearly neurotic in their tendencies. Leonard writes: “It is true that most of these natives — the Ijo and Ibibio particularly — especially among those who have not reached the years of discretion, are highly excitable, intensely emotional, and extremely impulsive, fundamentally neurotic, in fact. In this respect they are natural, like children, betraying their feelings in the same emotional and impulsive manner.

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