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The Dream in Primitive Cultures


AMONG primitive and superstitious people throughout the world, dreams have nearly always been estimated highly. It was perhaps inevitable that western science, in its endeavour to eschew fantasy and concentrate on verifiable fact, should have reversed the verdict and regarded the unruly figments of our sleeping minds with ill-disguised contempt. Nevertheless, the mere occurrence of dreaming remained a challenge to the psychologist, while the high value placed on dreams by primitives is in turn a fact which can be neglected by the anthropologist only at his own peril. It is true that Tylor had already attributed a very important role to dreams in his doctrine of animism. Nevertheless, the rehabilitation of dreams by Freud should have implied as a practical corollary a thorough reconsideration, in the light of new knowledge afforded by psycho-analysis, of the influence of dreams on primitive culture, and it is perhaps indicative of the over-departmentalisation of the human sciences that it is only now, thirty-five years after the publication of the “Traumdeutung”, that there has appeared a serious attempt at a general treatment of this subject.

The Dream in Primitive Cultures

By Dr. Jackson Steward Lincoln Pp. xiii + 359.(London: The Cresset Press, Ltd., 1935.) 18s. net.

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The Dream in Primitive Cultures. Nature 136, 969–970 (1935).

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