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Totem and Taboo (The Standard Edition) (Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud) [Paperback]

Sigmund Freud , James Strachey , Peter Gay
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 17, 1990 0393001431 978-0393001433 The Standard Edition

Totem and Taboo (1913), first published as a series of four articles between 1912 and 1913, is among Freud's most dazzling speculative texts.

Adducing evidence from "primitive" tribes, neurotic women, child patients traversing the oedipal phase, and speculations by Charles Darwin, James G. Frazer, and other modern scholars, Freud attempts to trap the moment that civilized life began. It stands as his most imaginative venture into the psychoanalysis of culture.

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Totem and Taboo (The Standard Edition)  (Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud) + The Future of an Illusion (The Standard Edition)  (Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud)
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

About the Author

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is one of the twentieth century's greatest minds and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. His many works include The Ego and the Id; An Outline of Psycho-Analysis; Inhibitions; Symptoms and Anxiety; New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis; Civilization and Its Discontent, and others.

Peter Gay is the author of more than twenty-five books, including the National Book Award winner The Enlightenment, the best-selling Weimar Culture, and the widely translated Freud: A Life for Our Time. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • Series: Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; The Standard Edition edition (September 17, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393001431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393001433
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Australian Aborigines and Freud's "Neurotic" Patients August 12, 2003
This is the first Freud book I have ever read. I am not a trained psychiatrist, or sociologist, or ethnologist, so I am going to review the book from a layman's standpoint.
In this work, Freud draws heavily on observations and theories of ethnology, emphasizing on studies of Australian aborigines and Frazer's work. He draws a parellel with his personal observations from treatment of "neurotic" patients and claims to have found common patterns in these two classes of subjects, which tend to explain certain social and psychological phenomena, as well as the "birth" of religion.
He focuses on the concepts of "Totem" and "Taboo". While familiar with taboo (although our understanding of the term is narrower than Freud's), totem is remote to us. Certain aboriginal peoples were grouped in social groupings, centered on the cult of and belief of descent from a certain animal. So, you are the "Kangaroo tribe", we are the "Ostrich tribe" etc. The topic most interesting Freud, to which he devotes the first essay in the book, is "exogamy", i.e. marriage outside one's group. This practice of exogamy seems to be in contradiction to what is pursued by some ethnic groups in America (Jews and Greeks come to mind) i.e. "endogamy" - a push to have children marry within their parents' ethnic group. This practice of exogamy in Australian aborigines is attributed by Freud to fear of incest, with quite convincing arguments.

What is challening is to concoct a theory that suggests totemism and exogamy are not orthogonal social institutions that just happenned to coexist, but intricately bound together. Freud accomplishes that through intricate reasoning that draws heavily on religion (in his 4th essay).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book, bizarre edition October 1, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am referring to the Thaisunset edition in this review (black cover with slightly incongruous topless native woman illustration). The content of Freud's book is still interesting today, of course. The Brill translation is stiff and somewhat old-fashioned but certainly enjoyable.

This edition has problems. Though attractively produced and clearly typeset it contains many typographical errors. It also makes the bizarre decision to place the footnotes in the text, indented, proceded with both a number and a little bracketed notification that the footnote is about to begin, and then followed by a similar notification that the footnote is over and we can all relax now. I gather that the text is in the public domain and the publisher has released it with minimal formatting. Very disappointing. It is still readable, but is certainly not what I expected.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A perfect exemplar of Freud's central arguments November 11, 2001
Totem and Taboo, along with _The Future of an Illusion_, should be necessary reading for any serious student of social science. Of course, there are massive holes in Freud's arguments (such as his tendancy to make sweeping generalizations about other cultures from his armchair in Europe), but people who disagree with him for moral and ethical reasons tend to amplify those holes and simply ridicule Freud the man instead of intelligently approaching his arguments.
The fact is, his suppositions about parental relations (as they relate to "totem" cultures), about religion, and about sexuality are extremely relevant and have proven, over the years, to possess an extraordinary predictive power. Even if one disagrees with this literature, one should read it and know exactly what they disagree with.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The unconscious rides again! March 24, 2003
And this time trough those primitive manifestations performed by that very primitive peoples like aborigenes from Australia, North and South America indians and many others discovered by colonization european, manifestation that we are used to call by Totem and Taboo. This is the standard Freud's view on the subject and to understand this book is a necessary step to proceed to other important Freud's work like Moses and Monotheism, The Future of an Ilusion and many others, where he approaches with reluctance the idea of religion as an offspring of early animism.
The prior standard way of seeing these types of primitive manifestation was to see them trough the amount of dread the primitive men have against the manifestation of some praeternatural agency, to use a term used by Mr.Thorstein Veblen, a contemporary of Freud, in his magnificent book on the leisure class (The Theory of the Leisure Class). It is worthy to note that nobody can be sure on the origins of this type of tradition and that adds substance to Mr.Freud's arguments.
Sigmund Freud goes a step further to the classical view and says that totemism and taboo as animism are the manifestation of something not outside ourselves but rather inside human minds of the primitive people, where the unconscious played a good part to the forming of this kind of culture manifestation and where there is an intricate and unconscious and almost mathematical calculation in order to attribute to the priest-king, who typifies the carrier of this tradition, both the pleasures and the burden of the function.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Freud Rocks it!
These four essays contain the essence of Freud's philosophy. Easily the most accessible of his sometimes cryptic writings. Highly recommended!
Published 4 months ago by Jacquie Pitre
3.0 out of 5 stars For school
I had to read certain pages from this book for a class. It got a bit confusing because the teacher occasionally went off on rants and i didn't fully read the book but the parts i... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Araceli
Freud published these four essays in 1912 and 1913. He states in the Preface, "It will be found that the two principal themes from which the title of this little book is... Read more
Published on August 13, 2010 by Steven H. Propp
4.0 out of 5 stars Totem and Taboo
The cover of the book is different than what was displayed when I purchased it, but it's still the same book.
Published on January 23, 2010 by FuzzzyDice0788
5.0 out of 5 stars Freud at his most concise and coherent.
Psychoanalytic literature can be confounding to clinicians and lay people alike. Good ol' Uncle Sigmund was the exemplar of this tendency towards obtusely wording everything. Read more
Published on March 7, 2007 by P. A. Southern
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 essays on psychology and anthropology.
Totem and Taboo was originally published (from 1912-1913) in the journal Imago as four essays. These essays are "The Horror of Incest", "Taboo and Emotional Ambivalence", "Animism,... Read more
Published on September 2, 2006 by frumiousb
5.0 out of 5 stars Sorry Daddy, I have to cut you off
Parricide, guilt, cannibalism--what's not to love?
Published on May 7, 2003 by DJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Draws the age of antiquity up to the present.
Draws the age of antiquity up to the present in a way that demonstrates how far away we really are not from the savages. Read more
Published on June 14, 1999
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