Considered by some as the most important anthropologist-psychoanalyst,  he is often credited with founding the field of psychoanalytic anthropology; was the first psychoanalytically trained anthropologist to do field research ; and later developed a general cultural theory. In he became the first professor of anthropology at the University of Budapest and a member of the local psychoanalytic society. He settled in New York City ; and unable to return to communist controlled Hungary after the war, he spent the rest of his life in New York. His research was used to support Ernest Jones in his debate with Bronislaw Malinowski over the existence of the Oedipus complex in matrilineal societies. His theory of culture stressed its rootedness in the long period of juvenile dependence in humans, which allowed for the possibility of exploration and play. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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He immigrated to the United States from Hungary in Of Jewish descent, he was the only child of prosperous bourgeois parents. At an early age he developed an abiding interest in folklore, and he later chose to study ethnology in Leipzig and Berlin.
It was during his time in Germany that he discovered the works of Sigmund Freud and his followers, which he embraced with great enthusiasm. He was a prolific writer, with his many books and papers having their primary focus on religion, magic, and folklore.
Hence Australian Totemism followed Freud's lead in being a form of psychohistory, taking the vast array of Aboriginal myths, rituals, and related phenomena to be so many complex symbolic transformations that, through analysis, could be used to reconstruct the prehistoric transition from nature to culture. It fundamentally confirmed Freud's idea that totemism, as the primal religion, took a properly human form through the projection of "the father" into totemic species but also suggested that it had a prior, protohuman form that re-lied on the projection of maternal symbolism into the environment.
Between and the end of his life he produced a number of works that were ethnographically rich and theoretically innovative. In particular he began to pay less attention to Freud's primal horde story and more openly interrogated its assumption that phylogenetic memory underlay the symbolic resolution of the Oedipus complex. Whereas this theory was an account of culture in general, a specific interpretation of religion lay within its ambit.
The totemic gods of Aboriginal Australia, for example, were said to have their origins in the demonic projections that arise in children as a result of anxieties prompted by the primal scene, demons being "bad" parents projected into the environment in the name of ego integrity.
But these very demons are the basis of totemic religion, in the sense that they are transformed into authentic gods totemic heroes in the passage into adult life. Initiation into the male cult reverses the earlier trends of ego protection and fosters development of the superego. Concomitantly the demons that once gave rise to anxiety are transmuted, introjected, and dutifully revered as ancestral protectors of the law. Even as he rejected the Freudian idea of a "group mind," his originality lay more in the manner in which he extended the insights of Totem and Taboo and brought new emphases to bear on its scope.
Also like Freud, he understood the deification of ancestors to be symptomatic of the very process of cultural transmission itself. Dadoun, Roger. Paris, London, An encyclopedic account of the Australian ethnographic literature confirming Freud's psychohistory of the primal horde. Also develops a sequence of phases in Aboriginal religious development.
Animism, Magic, and the Divine King. A psychoanalytic meditation on anthropological questions originally framed by Edward Burnett Tylor and James Frazer. Includes a chapter on totemic ritual in central Australia. The Riddle of the Sphinx; or, Human Origins. Translated by R.
London, ; reprint, New York , Discusses the idea of "the primal religion" in relation to central Australian totemism and interprets the material in terms of "the ontogenetic interpretation of culture. The Origin and Function of Culture. New York, The Gates of the Dream. Considers the role of dreaming and regression in connection with animism, shamanism, folklore, and mythology. The Panic of the Gods and Other Essays. Edited by Werner Muensterberger.
A collection of papers from the Psychoanalytic Quarterly on religion. Children of the Desert , vol. Edited by John Morton and Werner Muensterberger. Sydney, Australia, Voigt, Vilmos, ed. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. May 23, Retrieved May 23, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Even in his preschool years he showed a more than ordinary interest in myths and fairy tales, and while still a high school student he became an expert in Hungarian folklore.
After having received his Ph. It was at this time that he underwent his first psychoanalysis, with Sandor Ferenczi. His work in the early s clearly reveals his unusual conceptual equipment.
In he delivered a paper on Australian totemism published in an extended version in , for which he received the Freud prize in applied psychoanalysis. His research was particularly focused on the western tribes of central Australia Aranda, Pit-chentara, Pindupi, Yumu, Nambutji. His aim was to study a matrilineal society closely resembling that of the Trobrianders, whom Malinowski had made the focus of his field observations. It was his research among the Australian aborigines, however, that provided the basis for his revised psychoanalytic theories.
Some evidence for the Cyclopean family, as conceived by Freud, may be adduced from the life of anthropoids, especially that of the baboon horde Zuckerman , but it must be remembered that this study was made of apes in captivity.
According to Bolk, comparative morphology reveals that the human individual shows many traits of neoteny, such as hairlessness, the form of the ear muscles, Mongoloid development, orthognathy, the central position of the foramen magnum, relative brain weight, certain variations of the jaw, persistent cranial sutures, and the tendency toward brachycephaUzation. However, among the higher anthropoids, the eruption of the milk teeth starts almost immediately after birth, and shortly after the growth of the second milk molar the first permanent one appears.
This rather rapid change demands an equally rapid development of the jaw as well as of the entire skull. In man, on the other hand, there are two intervals that impose retardation. The milk teeth are fully grown only toward the end of the second year, so that the human child depends on sucking rather than on biting for a much longer period.
After the second year there is an interval of about four years before the first permanent molars come through. The so-called ego functions reflect the long period of human infancy; indeed, the various psychological processes do not reach maturity until the second decade of life. The human child, more than any other mammal, is in constant need of protection and nourishment provided by an external agency.
The bond created by physiological necessity develops into a necessary emotional and social tie, forcing the human being to attain and maintain continuous relationships with other people. Moreover, this protracted symbiotic relationship forms the nucleus of wider social cohesion and organization. In its negative aspect of dependence and jealousy, it is the source of feelings of anxiety and helplessness and of fears of castration and separation.
This uniquely human dual bond leads to the differentiation of ego and nonego, of a self and an external world. Attachment to the mother is the first source of pleasure, and disillusionment and anxiety are created by her absence.
Thus, from a psychobiological point of view, the human organism can discharge tension only through another organism; the infant is anaclitic. The dual bond also leads to the differentiation of ego and id, which are essentially one in lower animals. His emphasis on the significance of particular fantasies experienced during the process of falling asleep is related to his ontogenetic approach.
He related the sense of falling that is characteristic of the hypnagogic state to the inherent desire to return to the dual-unity situation that denies the separation of the child from the mother. He suggested that in sleep we return to the intrauterine situation and that dreams are attempts to re-establish contact with reality.
In other words, dreams are efforts to reverse the regressive condition caused by sleep and therefore constitute a defense against the reinfantilization represented by sleep. Similarly, the Oedipus complex is not the result of inherited memory images; it is the inevitable outcome of the human family and its extended period of infancy. Totemism, in this view, is merely one of the most frequently used of the several available solutions to the Oedipal nature of man. Among the aborigines of central Australia, the typical infantile trauma is the alknarintja situation: the mother lies on top of the boy infant, ostensibly to protect the child.
The institution of phallic ceremonialism, based on the exclusion of women and the projection of the threatening mother image onto the dangerous phallic female demons, is an attempt to ward off the early traumatization of the boy infant.
Thus, this simple example from Pitchentara society shows how the crucial elements in the infantile situation lead to reaction formations, which then become institutionalized. The smaller and more self-sufficient a society, the greater the likelihood that specific cultural patterns in the relationship between mother and child will produce a prevalent personality type in the society, that is, a greater psychological similarity among the members of that society.
In our own attempt to master reality we create a society, i. Ethnographia Budapest —, — Imago — Monograph No. Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences — At the University of Budapest he studied geography, linguistics, philosophy, law, and literature; then, in Berlin and Leipzig , anthropology and the history of religion. Because anthropology was not yet a fully developed discipline, when he received his doctorate in his examination was in geography. In he married Ilona, who would become his partner in anthropological research.
Henceforth he made a living through analytic practice and by giving occasional courses in English. In he published "Psychoanalysis of Primitive Cultural Types" and arguably his central work, The Riddle of the Sphinx , appeared in He emphasized the significance of the primal scene and, relying on work in comparative anatomy by German physiologist Ludwig Bolk, attempted to demonstrate the role of fetal characteristics in human mental life, which he believed had important and to some extent pathogenic consequences.
He first settled in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he practiced as a psychoanalyst at the State Hospital for the Insane; he subsequently settled in New York. His work, based on a systematic human psychology, found little support among the functionalist ethnologists then predominant in the universities, while he himself remained critical of cultural anthropology.
In , he undertook a new expedition among the Navajo. To him is owed a method of applied psychoanalysis buttressed by field investigation. He developed an ontogenetic theory of culture and, citing Ferenczi, he contended that a foundational trauma lies at the root of each culture. Wien: Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag.
Psychoanalysis of primitive cultural types. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis , The riddle of the sphinx. London: Hogarth Press.
While working on his Ph. By the early s he was publishing his pioneer writings in psychoanalytic anthropology and about this time became professor of anthropology at the University of Budapest. Another notable work is Australian Totemism Some of his results appeared in Animism, Magic, and the Divine King From he was a lecturer at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and engaged in private psychoanalytic practice.
Géza Róheim and the Fusion of Psychoanalysis and Anthropology
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