I'm a Swedish writer, artist, and historian of ideas, writing fiction and non-fiction books in both Swedish and English. I'm also an aikido instructor. More about me here.
Psychoanalysis of Myth
The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
by Stefan Stenudd. Qi, prana, spirit, and other life forces around the world explained and compared. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Chinese classic, translated and extensively commented by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
This book presents an imaginative reading of the Tarot divination cards, which is the most appropriate for the Tarot since it consists of symbolic images. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
Psychoanalysis of Myth 3
Sigmund Freud's and C. G. Jung's Theories on Myth and Its Origin.
Freud's Totem and Taboo
Freud was the first of the psychoanalysts to publish a thorough examination of myth and religion using the tools of his own science, with Totem and Taboo in 1912-13. As the title suggests, this text relates more to ritual than to myth, searching for psychological explanations to certain traditions found in what he called 'primitive' society, as well as to some extent in his contemporary world. He compared taboo beliefs with neurosis, seeing both similarities and differences, but expressing the belief in common psychological roots for them.
He also had his own radical explanation to the birth of religion, which has mostly met with rejection close to ridicule from historians of religion. Still, he remained convinced of his theory, which he also declared in Moses and Monotheism, published the same year he died, in 1939. On the other hand, he was already at the outset modest about the power of proof in his material. The fourth chapter of Totem and Taboo, where he presents his theory on the origin of religions, starts with the following obvious reservation, which still passed unnoticed among his critics:
On the other hand, later on in the same chapter, he claims:
What attracted Freud's interest was first and foremost that:
One would think that the rule against sexual intercourse within the clan was intended as a protection against incest and inbreeding, but to this Freud objects that he doubts such civilized behavior among the primitive people. Also he claims, without presenting support for it, that the damaging effects of inbreeding are not ascertained. He strongly rejects the possibility of such awareness among the primitives of the past:
In a footnote to this statement he takes support in Charles Darwin's words about the savages: "They are not likely to reflect on distant evils to their progeny."
Instead, Freud connects totemism's sexual restrictions to the Oedipus complex, where the totem is an image of a forefather, who had expelled his sons from the "horde" he ruled, to prevent them from having intercourse with the women of the horde. The sons joined in a severe revenge: "One day the expelled brothers joined forces, slew and ate the father, and thus put an end to the father horde."
He refers to Charles Darwin about his theories on primal social state of man:
Freud definitely thinks that the father murder had taken place in a distant past, but admits that he may have comprised the development of events, and ends the extensive footnote: "It would be just as meaningless to strive for exactness in this material as it would be unfair to demand certainty here."
Freud moves on to claim that the guilt of the sons and a wish for some kind of reconciliation, made them start to worship their dead father like a god, in the form of a totem, and to restrain their sexual habits by exogamy. It was also necessary for them, in order to keep their group loyalty and avoid competing to repeat the behavior of their father:
In the guilt triggered glorification of the father, Freud sees the insoluble tension that nourishes religion:
Almost triumphantly, Freud ends his text by stating: "In the beginning was the deed."