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Coriat, I.H. (1934). Totemism in Prehistoric Man. Psychoanal. Rev., 21(1):40-48.

(1934). Psychoanalytic Review, 21(1):40-48

Totemism in Prehistoric Man

Isadoe H. Coriat, M.D.

“From Eros there has been no escape in the past.”

George Moore.

In the introduction to one of his volumes, Malinowski maintained that anthropological interpretations to be of any value, must be based upon actual field experience. Owing to the fact that such definite experience had been lacking among psychoanalysts, he was inclined to criticize what he felt were the contradictions and obscurities of Freud's hypotheses on the significance of the primal horde and the precultural origins of human civilization. His own work was more on the descriptive than on the analytical level, for while he admitted the existence of the œdipus complex, he interpreted it as a late production of human development and not, as psychoanalysts claim it to be, a primal struggle between father and son having its origin at the beginnings of human culture. Jones has shown that it is not necessary to abandon or even to revise Freud's original conception, because it furnishes the most satisfactory explanation of the complicated social and psychical problems of the primitive savage. Moreover, Reik has confirmed and extended the Freudian theories concerning the origins of totem and taboo, with a special emphasis on parricide in the primitive horde and an insistence that even at the beginnings of culture, there was a sense of guilt which was never extinguished.


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