Totem and taboo (1919) PDF by Sigmund Freud

Totem and taboo; resemblances between the psychic lives of savages and neurotics

Totem and taboo (1919) PDF by Sigmund Freud

Author: Sigmund Freud
Translator: A. A. Brill,

I The Savage's Dread of Incest .... 1
II Taboo and the Ambivalence of Emotions 30
III Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thought 124
IV The Infantile Recurrence of Totemism. 165


The two principal themes, totem and taboo, which gave the name to this small book are not treated alike here. The problem of taboo is presented more exhaustively, and the effort to solve it is approached with perfect confidence.

The investigation of totemism may be modestly expressed as: "This is all that psychoanalytic study can contribute at present to the elucidation of the problem of totemism." This difference in the treatment of the two subjects is due to the fact that taboo still exists in our midst. To be sure, it is negatively conceived and directed to different contents, but according to its psychological nature, it is still nothing else than Kant's "Categorical Imperative,' ' which tends to act compulsively and rejects all conscious motivations.
On the other hand, totemism is a religion-social institution that is alien to our present feelings; it has long been abandoned and replaced by new forms. In the religions, morals, and customs of the civilized races of today, it has left only slight traces, and even among those races where it is still retained, it has had to undergo great changes.

The social and material progress of the history of mankind could obviously change taboo much less than totemism. In this book the attempt is ventured to find the original meaning of totemism through its infantile traces, that is, through the indications in which it reappears in the development of our own children.



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