Page:Totem and Taboo (1919).djvu/39

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THE SAVAGE'S DREAD OF INCEST

mother-in-law before his inclination is transferred to her daughter.

I see no objection to the assumption that it is just this incestuous factor of the relationship which motivates the avoidance between son- and mother-in-law among savages. Among the explanations for the “avoidances” which these primitive races observe so strictly, we would therefore give preference to the opinion originally expressed by Fison, who sees nothing in these regulations but a protection against possible incest. This would also hold good for all the other avoidances between those related by blood or by marriage. There is only one difference, namely, in the first case the incest is direct, so that the purpose of the prevention might be conscious; in the other case, which includes the mother-in-law relation, the incest would be a phantasy temptation brought about by unconscious intermediary links.

We have had little opportunity in this exposition to show that the facts of folk psychology can be seen in a new light through the application of the psychoanalytic point of view, for the incest dread of savages has long been known as such, and is in need of no further interpretation. What we can add to the further appreciation of incest dread is the statement that it is a