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Recommended: Freud’s Infantile Recurrence of Totemism

Sigmund Freud, “Infantile Recurrence,” in Totem and Taboo (page 166-268).

Freud presents his theory on the origin of religions, from start he affirms that “psychoanalysis will be tempted to drive anything so complicated as religion from a single source,”[1] mainly on the psychoanalytical thesis of the Oedipus complex and on totemism.


The reader need not fear that psychoanalysis, which first revealed the regular over-determination of psychic acts and formations, will be tempted to derive anything so complicated as religion from a single source.

He sees the tension that nourishes religion in the guilt that triggers the glorification of the father. The conflicts of emotions or “love and hate toward the same object are rooted in cultural formations.”[2] For Freud, those contradictions, once outside our emotional life, developed from the father complex.

[1] Sigmund Freud, “Infantile Recurrence,” in Totem and Taboo (New York: Dover Publication, 1998), 166-268, p. 166.


[2] Ibid., 260.




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