Brief Summary

In the essays contained in Totem and Taboo (subtitled "Some Points of Agreement between the Mental lives of Savages and Neurotics"), Freud looks at the presence of the horror of incest in society, and the relation this has with their spiritual and ritual ceremonies and beliefs. Freud then looks at how this horror of incest results in exogamy, and investigates how this is related to the development of the clan system, with its totems and characteristic rulings. Freud also notes the pattern of emotional ambivalence associated with totem objects, and how this mirrors relationships with acquaintances in life - most noticeably fathers. Freud also investigates the similarity between the obsessional rituals associated with totem clanship and their taboos, and the obsessional behaviour reported in neurotics. Then he broaches the topics of animism, magic and sorcery and their relation to the development of religious and scientific thought, before discussing ideas of the omnipotence of thoughts, as found in primitive peoples and neurotics. Finally he looks at childhood perspectives and their comparison with totemism, and exogamy, with a view to illuminating the nature of the relationship between the two. He concludes from these essays that the similarities (and few differences) between primitive people and neurotics and the father complex, can be used to investigate totemism and exogamy and their origins, and future work should also be conducted into the various assumptions that he is dependent on.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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