Quotes from Totem and Taboo

Sigmund Freud ·  224 pages

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“No neurotic harbors thoughts of suicide which are not murderous impulses against others redirected upon himself.”
― Sigmund Freud, quote from Totem and Taboo


“Our study of psychoneurotic disturbances points to a more comprehensive explanation, which includes that of Westermarck. When a wife loses her husband, or a daughter her mother, it not infrequently happens that the survivor is afflicted with tormenting scruples, called ‘obsessive reproaches’ which raises the question whether she herself has not been guilty through carelessness or neglect, of the death of the beloved person. No recalling of the care with which she nursed the invalid, or direct refutation of the asserted guilt can put an end to the torture, which is the pathological expression of mourning and which in time slowly subsides. Psychoanalytic investigation of such cases has made us acquainted with the secret mainsprings of this affliction. We have ascertained that these obsessive reproaches are in a certain sense justified and therefore are immune to refutation or objections. Not that the mourner has really been guilty of the death or that she has really been careless, as the obsessive reproach asserts; but still there was something in her, a wish of which she herself was unaware, which was not displeased with the fact that death came, and which would have brought it about sooner had it been strong enough. The reproach now reacts against this unconscious wish after the death of the beloved person. Such hostility, hidden in the unconscious behind tender love, exists in almost all cases of intensive emotional allegiance to a particular person, indeed it represents the classic case, the prototype of the ambivalence of human emotions. There is always more or less of this ambivalence in everybody’s disposition; normally it is not strong enough to give rise to the obsessive reproaches we have described. But where there is abundant predisposition for it, it manifests itself in the relation to those we love most, precisely where you would least expect it. The disposition to compulsion neurosis which we have so often taken for comparison with taboo problems, is distinguished by a particularly high degree of this original ambivalence of emotions.”
― Sigmund Freud, quote from Totem and Taboo


“fear of death.” Our study of psychoneurotic disturbances points to a more comprehensive explanation, which includes that of Westermarck. When a wife loses her husband, or a daughter her mother, it not infrequently happens that the survivor is afflicted with tormenting scruples, called ‘obsessive reproaches’ which raises the question whether she herself has not been guilty through carelessness or neglect, of the death of the beloved person. No recalling of the care with which she nursed the invalid, or direct refutation of the asserted guilt can put an end to the torture, which is the pathological expression of mourning and which in time slowly subsides. Psychoanalytic investigation of such cases has made us acquainted with the secret mainsprings of this affliction. We have ascertained that these obsessive reproaches are in a certain sense justified and therefore are immune to refutation or objections. Not that the mourner has really been guilty of the death or that she has really been careless, as the obsessive reproach asserts; but still there was something in her, a wish of which she herself was unaware, which was not displeased with the fact that death came, and which would have brought it about sooner had it been strong enough. The reproach now reacts against this unconscious wish after the death of the beloved person. Such hostility, hidden in the unconscious behind tender love, exists in almost all cases of intensive emotional allegiance to a particular person, indeed it represents the classic case, the prototype of the ambivalence of human emotions. There is always more or less of this ambivalence in everybody’s disposition; normally it is not strong enough to give rise to the obsessive reproaches we have described. But where there is abundant predisposition for it, it manifests itself in the relation to those we love most, precisely where you would least expect it. The disposition to compulsion neurosis which we have so often taken for comparison with taboo problems, is distinguished by a particularly high degree of this original ambivalence of emotions.”
― Sigmund Freud, quote from Totem and Taboo


“Όταν η παραβίαση ενός ταμπού δεν έχει σαν συνέπεια την τιμωρία του ένοχου, οι πρωτόγονοι βλέπουν να ξυπνά μέσα τους ομαδικά η απειλή κάποιου κινδύνου και τότε εφαρμόζουν οι ίδιοι την τιμωρία. Ο μηχανισμός αυτής της αλληλεγγύης εξηγείται με το με το φόβο του μεταδοτικού παραδείγματος, της παρακίνησης στη μίμιση και της μολυσματικής φύσης του ταμπού. Όταν κάποιος κατόρθωσε να ικανοποιήσει έναν απωθημένο ποθο, τα άλλα μέλη της ομάδας νιώθουν τον πειρασμό να κάνουν το ίδιο και για να τον καταστειλουν τιμωρούν αυτόν που έχει νοιώσει αυτήν την ικανοποίηση και τον φθονούν. Κι έτσι, με το πρόσχημα της εξιλέωσης, έχουν την ευκαιρία να διαπράξουν κι αυτοί την ίδια ανόσια πράξη. Αυτή η βασική αρχή του ανθρώπινου ποινικού συστήματος, απορρέει από τους απωθημένους πόθους κι απ'την εκδίκηση στ' όνομα μιας κοινωνίας που έχει προσβληθεί.”
― Sigmund Freud, quote from Totem and Taboo


“the principle which controls magic, and the technique of the animistic method of thought, is “Omnipotence of Thought.”
― Sigmund Freud, quote from Totem and Taboo


About the author

Sigmund Freud
Born place: in Freiberg in Mähren, Moravia, Austrian Empire, Czech Republic
Born date May 6, 1856
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