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Totem and Taboo (LibriVox Audiobook)

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Widely acknowledged to be one of Freud's greatest cultural works, when Totem and Taboo was first published in 1913, it caused outrage. Thorough and thought-provoking, Totem and Taboo remains the fullest exploration of Freud's most famous themes. Family, society, religion - they're all put on the couch here. Whatever your feelings about psychoanalysis, Freud's theories have Widely acknowledged to be one of Freud's greatest cultural works, when Totem and Taboo was first published in 1913, it caused outrage. Thorough and thought-provoking, Totem and Taboo remains the fullest exploration of Freud's most famous themes. Family, society, religion - they're all put on the couch here. Whatever your feelings about psychoanalysis, Freud's theories have influenced every facet of modern life, from film and literature to medicine and art. If you don't know your incest taboo from your Oedipal complex, and you want to understand more about the culture we're living in, then Totem and Taboo is the book to read.


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Widely acknowledged to be one of Freud's greatest cultural works, when Totem and Taboo was first published in 1913, it caused outrage. Thorough and thought-provoking, Totem and Taboo remains the fullest exploration of Freud's most famous themes. Family, society, religion - they're all put on the couch here. Whatever your feelings about psychoanalysis, Freud's theories have Widely acknowledged to be one of Freud's greatest cultural works, when Totem and Taboo was first published in 1913, it caused outrage. Thorough and thought-provoking, Totem and Taboo remains the fullest exploration of Freud's most famous themes. Family, society, religion - they're all put on the couch here. Whatever your feelings about psychoanalysis, Freud's theories have influenced every facet of modern life, from film and literature to medicine and art. If you don't know your incest taboo from your Oedipal complex, and you want to understand more about the culture we're living in, then Totem and Taboo is the book to read.

30 review for Totem and Taboo (LibriVox Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Totem und Tabu: Einige Übereinstimmungen im Seelenleben der Wilden und der Neurotiker = Totem and Taboo: Resemblances between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics , Sigmund Freud From Freud's perspective, primitive man lived in the beginning. It consisted of a male dominated by a number of females. This powerful father kept his sons away from women. One day these boys united, killed their father, and then ate him. The reason for this cannibalism, according to Freud, was that they believed t Totem und Tabu: Einige Übereinstimmungen im Seelenleben der Wilden und der Neurotiker = Totem and Taboo: Resemblances between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics , Sigmund Freud From Freud's perspective, primitive man lived in the beginning. It consisted of a male dominated by a number of females. This powerful father kept his sons away from women. One day these boys united, killed their father, and then ate him. The reason for this cannibalism, according to Freud, was that they believed that by eating the victim they would seize his power. After a while, they stepped out of their practice, and devised two prohibitions to atone for their act: One was to place a symbol as a kind of animal instead of a father; this symbol is totem. The brothers declared the eating of the totemic animal as forbidden, and further: they forbade inter-group marriage (taboo), and by boycotting the released material, they waived the fruits of their victory. Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics, or Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics, is a 1913 book by Sigmund Freud, in which the author applies psychoanalysis to the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and the study of religion. It is a collection of four essays inspired by the work of Wilhelm Wundt and Carl Jung and first published in the journal Imago (1912–13): "The Horror of Incest", "Taboo and Emotional Ambivalence", "Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thoughts", and "The Return of Totemism in Childhood". Though Totem and Taboo has been seen as one of the classics of anthropology, comparable to Edward Burnett Tylor's Primitive Culture (1871) and Sir James George Frazer's The Golden Bough (1890), the work is now considered discredited by anthropologists. The cultural anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber was an early critic of Totem and Taboo, publishing a critique of the work in 1920. Some authors have seen redeeming value in the work. عنوانها: «توتم و تابو»؛ «روانکاوی و تحریم زناشویی با محارم»؛ «پیدایش روانکاوی : در باره هیستری»، «تکوین روش درمانی نو، رویا و کودکی، محمد حجازی»، نویسنده: زیگموند فروید؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و دوم ماه آوریل سال 1982میلادی عنوان: روانکاوی و تحریم زناشویی با محارم؛ با ترجمه: ناصرالدین صاحب الزمانی؛ در سالهای 1337، انتشارات عطایی در تهران، در 127ص موضوع روانکاوی از نویسندگان اتریشی - سده 20م عنوان: پیدایش روانکاوی : در باره هیستری، تکوین روش درمانی نو، رویا و کودکی، مترجم: هاشم رضی؛ تهران، فراهانی، 1342، در 344ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، آسیا، 1357، مصور عنوان: توتم و تابو؛ نویسنده: زیگموند فروید؛ مترجم: محمدعلی خنجی؛ قم، پیروز، 1349، در 221ص، چاپ دیگر تهران، طهوری، 1351، در 234ص، چاپ دیگر تهران، لاهیتا، 1388، شابک 9786009017065؛ در 224ص؛ عنوان: توتم و تابو؛ نویسنده: زیگموند فروید؛ مترجم: ایرج پورباقر؛ تهران، آسیا، 1362، در 272ص، چاپ پنجم 1387، شابک 9789645759184؛ عنوان: توتم و تابو؛ نویسنده: زیگموند فروید؛ مترجم: حمیدرضا غیوری با همکاری محمدرضا غیوری؛ تهران، راستین، 1394، در 311ص، شابک 9789648266641؛ توتم و تابو؛ عنوان کتابی‌ است؛ از «زیگموند فروید»، که در سال 1913میلادی، نخستین‌بار در مجله به چاپ رسیده‌ است٬ از دید «فروید»، انسان ابتدایی، در دسته ی آغازین زندگی میکرد؛ این دسته، متشکل از نری مسلط (پدر) بود، که شماری از ماده ها را، در انحصار خود داشت؛ این پدر نیرومند، پسران خود را، از ماده ها، دور نگاه میداشت؛ روزی این پسران متحد شده، پدر را کشتند، و سپس وی را خوردند؛ دلیل این آدمخواری، به نظر «فروید» این بود، که آنها اعتقاد داشتند، با خوردن قربانی، نیرو و قدرت وی را، تصاحب خواهند کرد؛ پس از مدتی، آنها از عمل خویش پیشیمان شده، و جهت کفاره ی عمل خویش، دو ممنوعیت را ابداع کردند: یکی اینکه نمادی به صورت یک نوع حیوان را، به جای پدر گذاشتند؛ این نماد، «توتم» است؛ برادران خوردن حیوان توتمی را، حرام اعلام کردند، و دیگر اینکه ازدواج درون گروهی را، حرام کردند (تابو)، و با تحریم ماده های آزاد شده، از ثمرات پیروزی شان چشم پوشی نمودند تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 06/10/1399هجری خورشید؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    Nowadays we look around us at the well-oiled machinery of our advanced technological age and fondly muse that our society is as stable as bedrock. It is not. It is in fact a mad mishmash of individual fears, sacred cows, crazy desires - and a deep underlying sense of insecurity. The rock-solid state used to be the 19th century's secular TOTEM, for it was the symbolic appeasement of aporetic oedipal rage in a symbol - to Hegel as his many followers. Then radical opposition to this centrality arose Nowadays we look around us at the well-oiled machinery of our advanced technological age and fondly muse that our society is as stable as bedrock. It is not. It is in fact a mad mishmash of individual fears, sacred cows, crazy desires - and a deep underlying sense of insecurity. The rock-solid state used to be the 19th century's secular TOTEM, for it was the symbolic appeasement of aporetic oedipal rage in a symbol - to Hegel as his many followers. Then radical opposition to this centrality arose through Marx, and the modern bifircation of politics, which has been totalized in postmodernity, first arose. Why? Because religion was no longer the foundation of the state. As Freud says, we neurotics NEED a Totem, but that Totem was being politically dismantled. An Unbearable Lightness of Being was being born. The mad mishmash is our inheritance. And so we no longer have a secure substitute for our parents' love - our childhood Totem - which our inner Oedipus has cut out of our lives. So we hide the Bugaboo - that’s the sum of our fears, our taboo - safely in the symbol of a Totem: our books, our TV & our Films. My own Oedipus took up his paricidal arms against the taboo when I was twenty. An overly affective type of kid, I had never really left my feathered parental nest. My inner Oedipus cut those ties, but they never stopped bleeding. Until I read Judith Viorst's Necessary Losses. The myth of uniformly happy family ties MUST die, a necessary loss. Without wings we can't fly. But back then I chose the false comfort of a Totem of icy alienation, like so many others. An invalid substitute for rage, because it too kills our SOULS. And reality gives us wings ONLY if we have a valid Totem to substitute for the Taboo of finding liberation from the myth of the nuclear family. You see, severing himself like that is Oedipus' undoing. As with the alienated. But it doesn't have to be like that. Isaiah's suffering Servant was someone I could identify with - and He is THE traditionally valid Totem. The Totem Freud couldn't accept. When we hate, we are killing Him. And so eventually, it is OURSELVES we are killing with our primitive rage. That happened to me, eventually, believe it or not! You see, I have managed to kill my own high opinion of myself with that same rage, and recover my inner humanity. As in the great new book Love and Rage, I had to USE my anger as a means toward the end of attaining tranquility. So I did. At the end of my road my heart is clear of spiderwebs - and happy. The thunderheads of my rage are dissipating in a new sunrise. For Freud was wrong. A true Totem is STILL viable, because it brings peace. And God is the Totem that leads us Home to Ourselves - WITHOUT illusions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I found it incredibly 'stimulating' - a suitable word I think; considering a certain sexual implication that it carries. Not that I found it sexually stimulating or anything... it's mostly about incest... it's just... that it's Freud, because y'know... I'm not actually... oh, whatever. ... But wait! Maybe I did. That's the point. Incest and our outlawing of it could well be the start of civilisation. If you didn't want to do it, you wouldn't need social taboos - and eventually laws - to prohibit I found it incredibly 'stimulating' - a suitable word I think; considering a certain sexual implication that it carries. Not that I found it sexually stimulating or anything... it's mostly about incest... it's just... that it's Freud, because y'know... I'm not actually... oh, whatever. ... But wait! Maybe I did. That's the point. Incest and our outlawing of it could well be the start of civilisation. If you didn't want to do it, you wouldn't need social taboos - and eventually laws - to prohibit it. Oedipus Complex anyone? And more to the point, the more uncomfortable it makes you, the more you look down on me for jokingly implying that I may have found the subject of incest sexually stimulating, then the more guilty of this perversion you are. For anything you feel strongly about, there's probably a fundamental ambivalence on an unconcious level. Your harsh reaction can only be the manifestion of your rational concious self overcompensating for your libindal incestuous urges... pervert. Your (negative) reaction probably has a negative correlation to precisely how much you wish to commit the act you are condemning. Like The Sun and it's readers on the issue of paedophilia. But seriously, it's a great book that gives some serious insight into all manner of things: society, religion, the monarchy and the dreaded 'human condition' itself; all via a surprisingly authentic 'anthropology'.

  4. 5 out of 5

    E. G.

    Translator's Note Preface Preface to the Hebrew Translation --Totem and Taboo List of Works Referred To in the Text Index Translator's Note Preface Preface to the Hebrew Translation --Totem and Taboo List of Works Referred To in the Text Index

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cărăşălu

    It's my first book by Freud and it was... impressive. First of all, I must praise his writing style (or, perhaps, the translator). It's a very readable book even if you are a total newbie to the subject matter of the book, and it's not some ordinary subject matter: combining anthropological data and psycho-analytical insight, Freud tries nothing less than to trace the origin of culture (more precisely of religion, morals, social organization and so on). The book has four parts, the first three o It's my first book by Freud and it was... impressive. First of all, I must praise his writing style (or, perhaps, the translator). It's a very readable book even if you are a total newbie to the subject matter of the book, and it's not some ordinary subject matter: combining anthropological data and psycho-analytical insight, Freud tries nothing less than to trace the origin of culture (more precisely of religion, morals, social organization and so on). The book has four parts, the first three of which deal with presenting the institutions of totemism, taboo and especially incest, as well as drawing resemblences between the psychology of children, neurotics and primitive peoples. The fourth and final part is dedicated actually to summing up all the previous arguments into an ingenious theory: that society and culture originated as a result of the Oedipus complex. More precisely, Freud imagines a primeval horde, in which the sons killed the father, in order to free themselves from his authority and gain sexual access to his females, and ate him in order to identify with him. Later, they replaced him with the totem, and proclaimed the taboo of eating the totem animal (except for certain festivities, where the original crime was reenacted), and that of mating/marrying with females belonging to the same totemic clan (the rule of exogamy and a measure against incest). Freud supports his views with a lot of references to anthropological and naturalist works, but the problem is that the materials he uses were written at a time when the transition from "armchair anthropology" to "fieldwork anthropology" had no yet been fully accomplished. This need not be however an excuse for the fact that Freud purposely and openly speculates without solid support for his hypotheses. Too much "assuming that" and "we might suppose that" and so on. Creative, imaginative, brilliant even, as it is, too much of this book is mere speculation which culminates with a hypothesis best described by Malinowski: "It is easy to perceive that the primeval horde has been equipped with all the bias, maladjustments and ill-tempers of a middle-class European family, and then let loose in a prehistoric jungle to run riot in a most attractive but fantastic hypothesis."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Darren

    Best bullshit history ever!!!! Better than the Bible!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    An engrossing myth of its own is presented to us in the Freud-Jung dyad. Carl Jung for all his flaws - and they were many - was possessed of a genius that was unafraid to tread into new and unsecured territory that challenged the narrow and limiting definition of “libido” insisted upon by Freud. The unhappy result was a parting of the ways for Freud the mentor and Jung the young protégé. What we have here is an unusually long treatise by Freud that stands as his necessary response to this painfu An engrossing myth of its own is presented to us in the Freud-Jung dyad. Carl Jung for all his flaws - and they were many - was possessed of a genius that was unafraid to tread into new and unsecured territory that challenged the narrow and limiting definition of “libido” insisted upon by Freud. The unhappy result was a parting of the ways for Freud the mentor and Jung the young protégé. What we have here is an unusually long treatise by Freud that stands as his necessary response to this painful separation from Jung. It is Freud’s defense of why he could not accept the larger definition of ”libido” including our religious inclinations, that was postulated by Jung. After putting up a few smokescreens for the unwary, dropping in pronouncements such as “The doctrine of original sin is of Orphic origin,” followed by some content showing the finely honed classical education that Freud could call upon to argue that apparently the forces that brought Christianity to birth were projections of an alien Greek culture onto Hebrew culture, etc., things really go downhill. The postulated parricide and cannibalism of the primal father appeals to the Freud as an explanation for our Totem and Taboo issues -- although “This is a powerful argument, but not a conclusive one.” Not conclusive indeed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mack Hayden

    This is my second Freud book, the first being Civilization and Its Discontents, so I'm not an expert on this guy by any stretch of the imagination. As of now, I've concluded he's far more compelling to read as a philosopher than as a scientific practitioner of any variety. There are a lot of moments where it feels like he's trying to force a square peg through a round hole—a metaphor I'm sure he'd be very fond of. He makes a lot of great observations and then tries to subsume them all into his o This is my second Freud book, the first being Civilization and Its Discontents, so I'm not an expert on this guy by any stretch of the imagination. As of now, I've concluded he's far more compelling to read as a philosopher than as a scientific practitioner of any variety. There are a lot of moments where it feels like he's trying to force a square peg through a round hole—a metaphor I'm sure he'd be very fond of. He makes a lot of great observations and then tries to subsume them all into his overall Oedipal ideology, only to cheapen the ideas themselves. There's little doubt in my mind that plenty of the historical, psychoanalytical and social work he builds his thesis on here have at least been updated if not downright rejected since this book came out. Basically, don't go into this expecting much you can hang your hat on in terms of certainty, but be excited to leave with plenty of compelling thoughts to chew on. The second essay, in particular, is really intriguing: the central idea that the anxiety brought on by moral ambivalence led primitive people (as well as modern neurotics—read: most of us, if we're being honest) to enforce moral absolutes is perhaps the most succinct way I've ever heard the concept of totally subjective morality discussed. That's an idea you see fleshed out in the Bible as much as you see it in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Similarly, his analysis of the human urge to assign their own thought omnipotence—namely, by anthropomorphizing everything they encounter—is a psychological idea I find pretty incontestable. As far as the usual Freudian incest stuff, he only occasionally voyages into the realm of self-parody. He defends some of his points on the subject well but I just don't think it's a strong enough case to base his entire psychological paradigm around. When he uses incest as a means to flesh out ideas about how taboos are created in the first place, I can track and appreciate what he has to say. When he says incest is the basis of any/all taboos and just about everything else, it's way harder for me to stay on board the train. While Totem and Taboo is dated and a little silly at points, it's still a book I'd consider thought-provoking, if not explicitly enlightening, in a lot of respects.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tatev

    There are two ways to approach this book. One is that you treat it from the psychological perspective. In that case you being supposedly Freudian brings you greatest satisfaction since you are once again reaffirmed in your conviction that Freud knows everything and can provide an answer to every single question about Universe. Then again if you are Jungian all this book provides for you is all consuming irritation because your guru has long ago proved how wrong Freud was, has limited his underst There are two ways to approach this book. One is that you treat it from the psychological perspective. In that case you being supposedly Freudian brings you greatest satisfaction since you are once again reaffirmed in your conviction that Freud knows everything and can provide an answer to every single question about Universe. Then again if you are Jungian all this book provides for you is all consuming irritation because your guru has long ago proved how wrong Freud was, has limited his understanding of libido was and you simply fail to comprehend why people continue to worship this outdated rubbish of a theory. But you can also approach this book as a simple mortal who is generally aware of psychology as such but to be honest reads this books for the purpose of entertainment and self-development. And if you belong to this second category the number one rule is: have a constant access to google. Trust me, it's gonna help a lot. Also, be patient and thorough. Do not skip the paragraph simply because it seems to complicated. Knowing Freud, it's probably the most important paragraph of the book. In conclusion, I would recommend this book even to those who are not that big on psychological matters to start with. Because this book is also a well done compilation of some of the most interesting and exiting ethnological researches of the "savages" as Freud puts it (such as for instance, my beloved Robertson Smith).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Freud is not en vogue right now, but there's something compelling about his idea that culture began with the Oedipal event: the killing of the father. If you've ever wondered where the human taboos of murder, incest, and cannibalism come from, Dr. Freud has an answer for you. It's not so far out. For instance, it's easy to imagine cannibalism as means to a holy bond, uniting people with each other and the divine; as my professor pointed out, "eating the flesh" marks some of our most sacred/intim Freud is not en vogue right now, but there's something compelling about his idea that culture began with the Oedipal event: the killing of the father. If you've ever wondered where the human taboos of murder, incest, and cannibalism come from, Dr. Freud has an answer for you. It's not so far out. For instance, it's easy to imagine cannibalism as means to a holy bond, uniting people with each other and the divine; as my professor pointed out, "eating the flesh" marks some of our most sacred/intimate moments and rituals (mothers nibbling babies, lovers biting each other, communion). This essay isn't the most accessible thing I've read by Freud, but it's interesting nonetheless, and keeps working at his big, wonderful idea.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leo Zukimi

    this book is incredible specially for those who love reading about psycho matters and for those who are searching about religious matter and how it started it was almost like a bible to me cause i feel like it's answering about 25% of my unanswered questions and helps me to build up the perfect expressions for my own theory for life and universe knowing how our ancestors lived their religious and organized their relations ... and the problems they face it ... their sexual life ... all these help us t this book is incredible specially for those who love reading about psycho matters and for those who are searching about religious matter and how it started it was almost like a bible to me cause i feel like it's answering about 25% of my unanswered questions and helps me to build up the perfect expressions for my own theory for life and universe knowing how our ancestors lived their religious and organized their relations ... and the problems they face it ... their sexual life ... all these help us to learn more about our psycho problems Froid is a great author ... and this is one of his great books

  12. 4 out of 5

    Arno Boudry

    Openbaring!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Polansky

    Enormously stimulating, if complete nonsense. Apart from the monomaniacal obsession with seeing Oedipus behind literally every aspect of human civilization, as well as what I can’t help but feel is an exaggerated emphasis on the defining importance of incest-avoidance as a societal bedrock, there’s the utterly absurd idea that the processes of an individual mind, dimly understood, could be transferred meaningfully onto the intellectual processes of the entire species. Again, it’s complete nonsen Enormously stimulating, if complete nonsense. Apart from the monomaniacal obsession with seeing Oedipus behind literally every aspect of human civilization, as well as what I can’t help but feel is an exaggerated emphasis on the defining importance of incest-avoidance as a societal bedrock, there’s the utterly absurd idea that the processes of an individual mind, dimly understood, could be transferred meaningfully onto the intellectual processes of the entire species. Again, it’s complete nonsense but boy was it fun

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sundus

    Unique and interesting read

  15. 4 out of 5

    James F

    Four essays concerning the concepts of taboo and totemism, this was published in book form about three or four months after Durkheim's book which I reviewed a year and a half ago (The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life), which also dealt with the subject of totemism. Many of my objections to that book and the methodology of making "primitive" peoples such as the Australian aborigines models for the original hunter-gatherers of prehistory could be repeated here; in fact, Freud himself says mu Four essays concerning the concepts of taboo and totemism, this was published in book form about three or four months after Durkheim's book which I reviewed a year and a half ago (The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life), which also dealt with the subject of totemism. Many of my objections to that book and the methodology of making "primitive" peoples such as the Australian aborigines models for the original hunter-gatherers of prehistory could be repeated here; in fact, Freud himself says much the same thing in one or two footnotes, but then procedes to ignore the problems he himself recognized and treat "totemism" as a fact of original religion, which he then tries to explain in terms of his own psychoanalytic theories (which of course have problems of their own). What he says about the origins of taboo in the first three essays -- comparing them to the obsessions of neurotics (what we would now call OCD) and explaining them on the basis of unconcious ambivalent emotional responses is quite interesting. The most famous part of the book, however, is the last essay, where he proposes his theory of the origins of "totemism" as a whole -- his famous theory of the "primal horde" of brothers who killed the father. Even allowing for the existence of primitive totemism, which is dubious, this theory is totally bizarre, and I wonder whether even psychoanalytic disciples of Freud could ever have taken it seriously. He does somewhat hedge, saying that even if it weren't literally, historically true, it would still explain totemism as a psychic impulse, but he makes it clear he does consider it to have been true. Of couse, religion and mythology are full of ambivalent relations to fathers (best known, the Oedipus myth). The book, like Durkheim's, is probably much more important for understanding the history of early twentieth century social science than for any light it sheds on the history of religion. The next book on my list is a history of the idea of totemism from McClellan to Freud which considers them from that perspective.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Xander

    In earlier works, Sigmund Freud applied his method of psychoanalysis - analysing and interpreting the manifest thoughts and behaviour of a human being - to patients suffering from hysteria, to dreams, and to slips and mistakes of healthy people in everyday life. But, of course, this same method can be applied to almost any aspect of our lives, including social institutions as morality, religion, and to society as a whole. This, Freud does in Totem & Taboo (1913) - ar rather: tries to do, since h In earlier works, Sigmund Freud applied his method of psychoanalysis - analysing and interpreting the manifest thoughts and behaviour of a human being - to patients suffering from hysteria, to dreams, and to slips and mistakes of healthy people in everyday life. But, of course, this same method can be applied to almost any aspect of our lives, including social institutions as morality, religion, and to society as a whole. This, Freud does in Totem & Taboo (1913) - ar rather: tries to do, since he offers 'only' the first outlines of a psychoanalytic approach to morality and religion. The book contains four short essays, in which Freud dives into the world of primitive people. (This term, by the way, isn't used anymore in our culturally relativistic times). The goal he sets himself is to discover the origin of morality and religion in our ancestral history, and to explain the peculiar nature and content of these institutions. For example: why is sacrifice so common? And why is incest such a taboo? In Essay #1, Freud explains that all primitive tribes are characterized by systems of totemism, in which a group of people - the clan - is symbolically represented by some plant or animal - the totem. This totem is revered and it determines the nature of intra- and inter-clan intercourse. According to Freud, the main reason for this totemism is to prevent incest: people within the same clan are not allowed to have sexual intercourse with each other: fear of incest leads to demands of exogamy, which finds its structural form in totemism. In Essay #2, Freud then explains how certain acts, foods, etc. are forbidden - the taboos - arise from our emotional ambivalence towards these exact same objects. Our unconsciousness wants and desires things which our consciousness won't allow; we learn to control our desires and behave ourselves when we grow up; but these primal urges remain. Hence, we consciously institute taboos which we unconsciously long for. In Essay #3, Freud takes a whole new subject to explore: animism, or the belief in souls. According to Freud, all primitive societies are characterized by animistic worldviews. In his opinion, the animistic worldview is a precursor to the religious worldview, which is itselffollowed up by the scientific worldview. Primitive man is occupied by his own thoughts, and has trouble distinguishing between thoughts and reality; hence, he sees reality as thoughts. This stance leads to the conclusion that since he thinks, everything and everyone in the universe thinks: animism is born. But of course, one wants to manipulate nature to achieve one's goals. Since nature is full of souls, there has to be found some form of communication: magic is born. Freud claims that magic is the technology by which primitive man tries to influence all the 'anima' in nature. As civilization progresses, man gradually moves from animism and magic to the belief in gods (and then God), and the need for intermediaries (priests and kings) arises. After this, man starts to ask questions about nature, search for answers, and stumbles on science: now God is killed (à la Nietzsche's Zarathustra), and we face the brute fact of our purposeless, biological existence. Freud consequently views animism as childish: children view the world not as reality, but as thought - at least, that's what psychoanalysis unravelled. In the last Essay, Freud then combines all his earlier thoughts into one grand theory on how totemism arose in our ancestral past, and how it developed into religion. And, of course, Freud pulls the expected white rabbit out of the hat: morality and religion originate in.....the Oedipus Complex! "At the conclusion, then, of this exceedingly condensed inquiry, I should like to insist that its outcome shows that the beginnings of religion, morals, society, and art converge in the Oedipus Complex. This is in complete agreement with the psycho-analytic finding that the same complex constitutes the nucleus of all neuroses, so far as our present knowledge goes. It seems to me a most surprising discovery that the problems of social psychology, too, should prove soluble on the basis of one single concrete point - man's relation to his father." p. 182 So how does this work? Well, according to Freud, in our ancestral past, there was a group of primitive men - or rather one man and many women. When the man begot sons, then competition arose for sexual access to the females. The sons, subsequently, were exiled. But, of course, the sons then formed an alliance, killed their father, and ate his flesh. After this, guilt kicked in, and they started to view their father as a totem, and they decided to abstain from sexual intercourse with the women in the group. Hence, the origin of totemism and the taboo on incest. Over time, the primitive men domesticated animals, and the animals then symbolically replaced the father as a totem. They prohibited the killing of the particular animal (which is heavily place-dependent), but they chose particular days on which one animal was slaughtered, and its flesh shared by all of the group. In this way, men shared in the crime and in the reverence for the totem. And Freud wouldn't be Freud if he didn't see the ambivalence of emotion in these sacrificial festivities: men simultaneously killed their father (again) and they revered him. Many (all?) of the ancient civilizations held sacrificial festivals, in which the sacrified animal (or human - see the Aztecs) was killed, and then mourned as well as revered. This pattern of the father suffering is seen in Greek tragedy (in which the Hero suffers), in Christianity (in which Christ suffers for humanity's sake), etc. What Freud does in Totem and Taboo, is applying psychoanalysis to the subject of totemism and taboo. And he then comes to the conclusion that primitive men - with whom totemism and taboo originate - show striking similarities with neurotic patients and children. The similarities lie in (1) the fact that all three categories of people suffer from repressed wishes originating in their emotional ambivalence towards their fathers, and (2) in the fact that all three categories suffer from repressed wishes to have sex with their mothers. Hence the subtitle of the book: "Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics" There is one major difference between these three categories of people, though. There is a difference between thinking and doing. The child wants to fulfil his wishes (i.e. kill his father and impregnate his mother) - wants to act - but is impotent to do this: the Father is much more powerful (hence the continual fear of castration). The neurotic has lost all capacity for acting; his whole life is occupied by thoughts (hence the loss of libido in neurotics). Only the savage is uninhibited, only he can transform his thoughts into action. Freud ends Totem and Taboo with a citation of Goethe: Im Amfang war die Tat. Totem and Taboo is, in that sense, the grandioze closing of Freud's application of psychoanalysis to explain humanity. He started with hysterics, passed on to dreams, then moved to the everyday lives of healthy people, and ended with society as a whole: morality and religion are explained by the same fundamental principle as everything else in our lives. Sex in general, and the Oedipus complex specifically, explain how we are what we are. The crucial question here is: is it a plausible theory? Well, apart from the historical data on our ancestral evolution that was only gathered after Freud - and which gives us much more insight into the development of institutions like morality and religion - there is one fundamental flaw to his theory. By invoking the Oedipus complex as a causal mechanism in the domain of morality and religion, Freud exposes his whole theory to the objection that human society is compsed male and female members. The Oedipus complex works, as a theoretical construct, but only on male phenomena. It doesn't explain how females fit into the picture - they don't feel the urge to kill their fathers. Explaining the taboo on incest by claiming this originated because sons want to have sex with their mothers, but they really can't (the emotional ambivalence), begs the question of how the taboo really arose, since this phenomenon works in females as well. The same with totemism: the reverence of a slain father, as solution for the emotional ambivalence felt, works only for the male part of the tribe - it doesn't explain why the primitive females would feel this same ambivalence. Anyway, Totem and Taboo is a funny book to read, although it is a bit unclear at certain points (especially when Freud deals with all the competitive theories which explain how morality and religion originated). I doubt one can truly understand the main lines of thought if one isn't familiar with some of Freud's earlier writings though.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erica Zahn

    3.5 stars. Freud’s take on early anthropology and its psychological undercurrents offers the modern reader two things: firstly, an insight into the mode of scholarship used in the 1910s, and some food for thought on the anthropology itself. Although the approach and attitude of the book is rather dated, many of the questions it endeavours to tackle ‘from the source’, and the mental impulses that motivate cultural behaviours, are still debated by anthropologists to this day. Approaching with a mode 3.5 stars. Freud’s take on early anthropology and its psychological undercurrents offers the modern reader two things: firstly, an insight into the mode of scholarship used in the 1910s, and some food for thought on the anthropology itself. Although the approach and attitude of the book is rather dated, many of the questions it endeavours to tackle ‘from the source’, and the mental impulses that motivate cultural behaviours, are still debated by anthropologists to this day. Approaching with a modern scholarly mindset, it’s easy to balk at the immediate reference to ‘savages’ as the subjects of the book. Freud’s initial assumption that tribal peoples are closer to our primitive ancestors is dubious and troubling, and he rarely specifies the particular tribes or cultures he means when he’s talking about the ‘bigger picture’. Despite all this, Freud’s actual analyses do not seem to me particularly reductive or stereotypical, and he makes the same comparisons to what he terms ‘civilised’ societies — once again, it’s the terminology that’s troubling, not so much the ideas (though I cannot say if the German carries the same implications). Since I see the problem of word choice as more a result of the time period, and the position of Freud’s contemporary scholarship (without the benefit of today’s terminology), I would encourage anyone to continue with the book if they can get past this. However, we still need to decide whether the initial false assumption, that tribal societies are inherently ‘primitive’ in structure, negates the analysis that follows from it — thankfully, I don’t believe it does, because Freud’s examination of these groups and their social psychology, followed by the natural comparisons to his own culture, are still insightful. They can provide an interesting psychological perspective, separate from Western mores, without needing to believe that they resemble prehistoric peoples. Although Freud’s work here is largely discredited by modern anthropologists, lot of the study still takes an approach resembling his (though with fewer generalisations, I would think!), and he does cite some scholarship other than his own. If we treat the tribes as ‘parallel’ cultures, although we may gripe with some smaller points, the analysis essentially still works. The details of early religion are of the most interest to me, and the primary reason why I read the book: I think these are slightly more creditable when likened to cultures which were already more encompassed by scholarship (i.e. the Romans and Greeks), and especially where we can identify wider ‘trends’ in religion, which are so often found in traditions ostensibly unrelated to one another. It’s interesting to see how the limits and restrictions placed on high-ranking men, especially kings who double as high priests, can be connected to later restrictions placed on non-religious offices (like the higher ranks in the Roman senate), although religious justifications were often used in this case too. Freud uses the comparison of the flamen dialis and his wife (the highest ranking priest in Rome), but I also feel there’s the more obvious example of the emperor coming to double as pontifex maximus, since, even if this was born out of Caesar’s accumulation of offices, it still became important in the emperor’s ‘image’ later on. It’s also interesting to see how this level of power begins to backfire on the individual — just as it’s easy to blame an authoritarian leader for anything that goes wrong, if someone can supposedly control the weather, they’ll be witch-hunted as soon as the weather turns bad. The greater theme of restrictions and separations is shared in Abrahamic religions (especially in Leviticus and other books of laws), and many of the rules about ‘cleanliness’ seem pretty logical (e.g. the treatment and disposal of corpses), though I would have liked more explanation on why enemy corpses are treated well — is it that the threat of the living person is gone, or based on a fear of retaliation from the spirits? Additionally, some of the rules seemed counterintuitive to me, especially excluding other chiefs after a chief dies, furthering the power vacuum, and shunning widows and widowers, which hardly seems socially conductive. This makes more sense for people who have a special spiritual role, who may benefit from withdrawal from reality, including human relationships (and this is sometimes extended to menstruating women, who were supposedly more open to spirits). I should probably follow this up with more modern anthropological reading, however, as I’m not sure how much of Freud’s ideas here are verified, let alone explained in confident terms. Some people may find Freud’s view, that the stigma (or taboo) against incest and other issues has to be more psychologically enforced where the barriers are lesser, reductive, but even this could arguably be likened to other social phenomena: that is, supposedly those who are most vocal in their objections have the most guilty consciences. Those people are overcompensating for hidden urges. A bit like when people find naked children objectionable (in art, on the beach, etc.) when they should never be sexualised in the first place. It may not so much be a case of the ‘primitive-ness’ of a society, but rather the need to enforce change in a way that may overcompensate and deny or negate the problems of the past. Even if the person is ‘overdoing it’, they are at least rational in trying to avoid the worst outcomes. As with the resulting suspicion for magical people where their power stops seeming to ‘work’ for community advantage, this may culminate in killing the individual to ‘release’ their power, gaining it for themselves. Frequently, sons will kill, and even eat, their fathers in the hopes of a transferral of their power. The transferral of power, both political and religious, can be very sinister: it’s one we could even connect to the ‘divine right of kings’ — if you can kill the king and take over, you’ve proved your own ‘divine right’ if God has granted you victory. The theme and problem of violent seizure of power is a universal source of anxiety. Ironically, the tribes have come up with a solution that the West has always lacked in the form of the ‘civilising’ totem, working in tandem with the rules against incest and other taboo acts, allowing them to keep the social order without being overwhelmed by conflict over power. In the midst of these ‘bigger’ questions, both my and Freud’s extrapolations should be taken with a grain of salt: despite his use of sources, as we might expect from Freud, he speculates and interprets a lot, according to his own theories on behavioural explanations. There’s some charm to this old-fashioned sort of scholarship, in which it’s common for authors to get carried away by their own enthusiasm, but unfortunately creativity is usually inversely proportional to reliability in a text like this. This is probably a case where the reader has to make their own judgement about the value the text has to them. Even where they are framed as wild and primitive by Freud, we could find our own things to learn from these alternate societies, who have found solutions to problems that we have not — even if we accept Freud’s perspective, perhaps we should not assume ourselves to be more ‘civilised’ after all.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    This is an okay book but I was looking for more on Native American warriors and their totems!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eli

    Further studies needed!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This was a great dive into primitive cultures and their taboos. I loved how Freud showed that a lot of these ideas came from either trying to protect from previous grievances reoccurring or biologically harmful actions. What was even more interesting is his linking to modern day taboos and superstitions, but also practices within culture, religion, government, and other social structures. I have a disagreement with his final assertion which includes the classic freudian projection of the oedipal This was a great dive into primitive cultures and their taboos. I loved how Freud showed that a lot of these ideas came from either trying to protect from previous grievances reoccurring or biologically harmful actions. What was even more interesting is his linking to modern day taboos and superstitions, but also practices within culture, religion, government, and other social structures. I have a disagreement with his final assertion which includes the classic freudian projection of the oedipal complex on every area mentioned above, but I do believe it is still a solid idea to be entertained for some cultural practices, not all. Overall this was a great exercise in analyzing links between past and present.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Phebe

    *rolls eyes* no but really, not sure why freud needed to write more than one book ever. it's like how all of fitzgerald's novels are basically the same. lmao that one line in the middle of a paragraph where he admits he doesn't know how "the great mother goddesses" fit into any of this, and then goes right back to father-son crap. *rolls eyes* no but really, not sure why freud needed to write more than one book ever. it's like how all of fitzgerald's novels are basically the same. lmao that one line in the middle of a paragraph where he admits he doesn't know how "the great mother goddesses" fit into any of this, and then goes right back to father-son crap.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Durakov

    I knew I was in for something off-putting and wrong on many fronts (specifically the anthropology of "savages" and "primitives") and I was correct there. The best I can say for it, is that it strengthened my understanding of what is meant by "primal scene," guilt (of psychic and nonpsychic origins), neurosis, and the Oedipus complex. If you're interested in grasping the whole set of tools and presuppositions of psychoanalysis, it's probably a must read, but if you're not, there's not a lot to re I knew I was in for something off-putting and wrong on many fronts (specifically the anthropology of "savages" and "primitives") and I was correct there. The best I can say for it, is that it strengthened my understanding of what is meant by "primal scene," guilt (of psychic and nonpsychic origins), neurosis, and the Oedipus complex. If you're interested in grasping the whole set of tools and presuppositions of psychoanalysis, it's probably a must read, but if you're not, there's not a lot to recommend this above some of Freud's better written and more interesting texts.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Castles

    Pretty amazing, all native culture people in this book jump to the bushes when crossing the path with their relatives (: Second time reading this book (the first one was a long time ago in a different language), it’s a brilliant work of a brilliant mind and such an important cornerstone of our age. It is also the blueprint of how anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder act, which is absolutely amazing considering the year the book was written, and the amazing mind of Freud who practically creat Pretty amazing, all native culture people in this book jump to the bushes when crossing the path with their relatives (: Second time reading this book (the first one was a long time ago in a different language), it’s a brilliant work of a brilliant mind and such an important cornerstone of our age. It is also the blueprint of how anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder act, which is absolutely amazing considering the year the book was written, and the amazing mind of Freud who practically created almost single-handedly the field, I can’t stop from admiring how brilliant he was, articulation the inner logic of neurosis which are personal, yet reveal a DNA that goes back to ancient times and how humanity as a whole is affected by our ancestors’ culture. What is also amazing here is Freud's ability to write so well and clear, not talking over your head and not being academic that much. I can’t understand how this book got this rate on Goodreads, for me, it’s way more than even 5 stars, but I assume that some of the subjects here obviously can be met with some resistance.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Celine

    Not only does Freud basically base his entire reading on one book that describes distant tribes which he himself has never seen or studied, his connecting of "savages" with children/neurotics is insulting and racist. Freud's Oedipal system makes him conveniently forget the existence of women whenever it suits him, claiming for example that all male children with animal phobias connect the feared animal to their fathers. He does not make any claims with regard to female children (do they fear the Not only does Freud basically base his entire reading on one book that describes distant tribes which he himself has never seen or studied, his connecting of "savages" with children/neurotics is insulting and racist. Freud's Oedipal system makes him conveniently forget the existence of women whenever it suits him, claiming for example that all male children with animal phobias connect the feared animal to their fathers. He does not make any claims with regard to female children (do they fear their mothers? Or their fathers?) This book doesn't seem to have anything going for it apart from general historical interest.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    This, with the later Moses and Monotheism, is one of Freud's most speculative works. As Moses represents his idea of a psychoanalytic contribution to religious studies, Totem represents a contribution to cultural anthropology. Not being as versed in the latter field as in the former, I didn't find it as fun as the Moses book. This, with the later Moses and Monotheism, is one of Freud's most speculative works. As Moses represents his idea of a psychoanalytic contribution to religious studies, Totem represents a contribution to cultural anthropology. Not being as versed in the latter field as in the former, I didn't find it as fun as the Moses book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    So I've become a fan of Freud and I've been surprised how critical most of all my friends are about him and his theories. Probably I can't convey them quite as convincingly, but even then, I think I simply don't care that much whether his theories are "true" or not. Reflecting on those subject matters is deeply interesting in itself. This book starts with a discussion on taboos and how behind them are things we all want, but collectively decided to avoid. He then explains how the role of the king So I've become a fan of Freud and I've been surprised how critical most of all my friends are about him and his theories. Probably I can't convey them quite as convincingly, but even then, I think I simply don't care that much whether his theories are "true" or not. Reflecting on those subject matters is deeply interesting in itself. This book starts with a discussion on taboos and how behind them are things we all want, but collectively decided to avoid. He then explains how the role of the king (or leader) has always been attached with taboos (commoners can't touch the king, but the reverse is also true: the king has power, but he also lives a very restricted life) and how this role has always been strictly controlled: even medieval monarchs were expected to rule well and were frequently assassinated when they failed to do so. In some civilization, one has to be coerced into that role. It follows a discussion on totems - which he says are found in all civilizations - eventually drawing the conclusion that religions come from the deed of collectively realizing the Oedipus fantasy of killing our father and then projecting our guilt into a god to its image. Summarized into one line, it sounds again like a parody of Freud... Either way, he seeks connections and explanations for so many fundamental things (psychology, religion, laws, morality...), I think it's well worth reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julio Pino

    Search yourself: At the heart of every human society lies the crime of patricide. Religion, politics, art, music, and sundry are all manifestations of the original crime of killing the father-founder. Think Moses, Jesus, Saturn, or even Lincoln. In this inflammatory tome, Freud is frightening, fascinating and frustrating all at the same time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Đăng Dương

    Just say that u got daddy issue bruh. Tbh I actually really enjoy this Freud's pessimistic view on human nature, tho to say that all religion social moral issues come from the oedipus complex just doesnt sound right to me. Just say that u got daddy issue bruh. Tbh I actually really enjoy this Freud's pessimistic view on human nature, tho to say that all religion social moral issues come from the oedipus complex just doesnt sound right to me.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michidmaa Bayar

    It is hard to understand whole meaning of this book, because I’m not a psychologist or psychoanalyst. However, Freud, he was more clearly wrote about ancient esoteric and dogmatic religion. He discussed how the developmental patterns of the psyche shape the course of human civilization.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Júlia Hardmeier

    This is the first book I've read from Freud. It was a surreal experience. I am still not even sure what to say about it. I will say this: the two-star rating means: I didn't understand the book. I liked to learn about Totemism and other related psicho-social and religious systems in the primitive tribes all around the world. It was interesting to hear arguments for the apparition and continuity of these systems as well as their supposed evolution into modern thinking. It was very surprising to s This is the first book I've read from Freud. It was a surreal experience. I am still not even sure what to say about it. I will say this: the two-star rating means: I didn't understand the book. I liked to learn about Totemism and other related psicho-social and religious systems in the primitive tribes all around the world. It was interesting to hear arguments for the apparition and continuity of these systems as well as their supposed evolution into modern thinking. It was very surprising to see the parallels that Prof. Freud drew between these systems and their occurence in the childhood and in neurotic patients. I guess this book showed me how the world looks like from the point of view of the psichoanalyst. Which is both scary and fascinating. It is no wonder that the psicoanalysis proves impossible to be tested empirically; it is a philosophy. It seems to me that many things that can be observed as Prof. Freud observed them. But the way how we interpret the things we observe have so much more to do with our own presuppositions as with how the things really are. So, it is hard to read Prof. Freuds ideas and take them as scientific proof for anything. There is much information in the book about the processes of psychoanalytic investigation that are simply not explained, they seem all presupposed and accepted as such but no explanation as to their empirical validity is given. I can understand that this was not part of the purpose of this book, however it makes it really hard to understand the message if this is not cleared out of the way. I will surely read other books on psychoanalysis as well, from Prof. Freud and also others, to make sure I get what they are talking about, but. for now my advice to those wanting to read this book is: make sure you have a working knowledge of psychoanalysis before you do.

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