Totem And Taboo

This essay Totem And Taboo has a total of 3185 words and 13 pages.

Totem And Taboo

In Totem and Taboo, Freud Sigmund explain the origin of religion of different
tribe found around the world. Although related, the two words have quite
distinct meanings. According to Compton’s Encyclopedia, "totemism is a term
of Ojibwa American Indian origin that refers to an animal or plant associated
either with a group of blood-related persons such as a family or with part of a
tribe". The plant or animal is a totem. As such, totemism is a word used to
define relationships. A taboo implies something forbidden or to be avoided. The
term is of Polynesian origin. It was first recorded by explorer James Cook in

1771, when he found it used by the natives of the Tonga Islands in the South

Pacific. Both terms have their modern counterparts. People frequently discuss
their astrological signs and comment that they are, for example, Leos (lions),

Pisces (fish), or Aries (rams). Such animal associations with groups of
individuals are comparable to totemism. The most common taboo seen today is a
"No Smoking" sign in public places. In chapter 1, Freud explain the
stage of development of the primitive man: the inanimate monuments and
implements which he has left behind for us through our knowledge of his art, his
religion and his attitude toward life, which we have received either directly or
through the medium of legends, myth and fairy tales. To show that this
supposition is correct, Freud chooses to compare the "psychology of primitive
races" with the psychology of the neurotic. For different reasons he choose to
take the aborigines of the youngest continent: Australia. According to Freud,
the aborigines of Australia are "look upon as a peculiar race". They don’t
build houses or huts, do not cultivate soil or keep domestic animals. They only
live of flesh of animals that they kill. There is no chief, the decision are
maid by the assembly. These primitive tribes have a system of Totemism that
divided them into separate and smaller clan with each taking and choosing the
name of its totem. According to Freud, a totem is "a plant or a force of
nature (rain, water), which stands in a peculiar relation to the whole clan".

Every member of a totem is under sacred obligation not to kill their totem
member, to eat its meat or from any other enjoyment of it. If those rules are
violated a punishment is given. A totem is not limited to a neighborhood or an
area. The members of each totem may live separated from one another. They can
also live with people from another totem. Every totem has sexual laws that
forbid members of the same totem to have sexual relation with each other and
also cannot marry each other. If those rules are broken, the whole tribe avenges
a punishment as if it were a question of warding off a danger that threatens the
community as a whole or a guilt that weighs upon all. Some severe punishment is
also given when a temporary love affair has not resulted in childbirth. Those
tribes are called "consanguineous"(they are one family with the same blood)
because totem is hereditary through the maternal or paternal line. So any sexual
relation with someone of the same totem is incest. The totem exogamy or
prohibition of sexual relation between member of the same clan, is probably the
most appropriate means for the prevention of group incest. Marriage is a very
complicated subject. Some tribes are so organized that they fall into two
divisions of marriage classes or "Phratries". Each of these marriage groups
is exogenous and includes a majority of totem groups. Each marriage group is
also divided into two subclasses. So the whole tribe is then divided into four
classes. (Every division is exogenous). There is also a rule against the
relation of boys with their mother and sisters. The boy leaves home at a
specific age to move to the clubhouse where he sleep and take meals. He can
still visit home to ask for food, but his sister is at home, he must go away
before he has eaten. If she is not about to eat, he may seat down to eat near to
the door. If by chance they meet each other, she has to turn away and conceal
himself. He is not allowed to say her name or use any current word if it forms
part of her name. On the other hand the reserve between mother and son increase
with age and is more obligatory on the mother’s side. For example if she
brings him something to eat, she

Read essay without registering

Donate an essay now and get the full essay emailed you

Acceptable files: .txt, .doc, .docx, .rtf

Email Address

Topics Related to Totem And Taboo

Taboo, Anthropology, Family law, Totem and Taboo, Sigmund Freud, Incest, Exogamy, Totem, Laws regarding incest, Freud's Psychoanalytic Theories, Atua I Raropuka

Essays Related to Totem And Taboo