Page:Totem and Taboo (1919).djvu/27

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15
THE SAVAGE'S DREAD OF INCEST

the marriage prohibitions always in force for brother and sisters, to cousins, and invented for them the grades of spiritual kinship.[1]

It would hardly serve our purpose to go into the extraordinarily intricate and unsettled discussion concerning the origin and significance of the marriage classes, or to go more deeply into their relation to totemism. It is sufficient for our purposes to point out the great care expended by the Australians as well as by other savage people to prevent incest.[2] We must say that these savages are even more sensitive to incest than we, perhaps because they are more subject to temptations than we are, and hence require more extensive protection against it.

But the incest dread of these races does not content itself with the creation of the institutions described, which, in the main, seem to be directed against group incest. We must add a series of “customs” which watch over the individual behavior to near relatives in our sense, which are maintained with almost religious severity and of whose object there can hardly be any doubt. These customs or custom prohibitions may be called “avoidances.” They spread far beyond

  1. Article “Totemism” in Encyclopedia Britannica, eleventh edition, 1911 (A. Lang).
  2. Storfer has recently drawn special attention to this point in his monograph: “Parricide as a Special Case. Papers on Applied Psychic Investigation,” No. 12, Vienna, 1911.