Mohave Ethnopsychiatry and Suicide: The Psychiatric Knowledge and the Psychic Disturbances of an Indian Tribe

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Author: Devereux, George

Year: 1961

Publisher: Government Printing Office

Place: Washington, DC


vi+586 pages with 10 plates. Royal octavo (9 1/2" x 6") bound in original publisher's olive green cloth with gilt lettering to spine. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 175. First edition.

Mohave Ethnopsychiatry and Suicide is a unique book in several respects. It is theonly book which describes the types of abnormal behavior found in a primitive culture in the etiological terms of the culture, as well as in its classificatory terms. No other monograph has been written by an expert in anthropology who is at the same time trained as a psychoanalyst. It is a real achievement of Devereux that he manged to keep the frame of reference of culture distinct from that of psychoanalytic psychology, and that he succeeds in working within these frames of reference, which in the hands of someone less adept would result in contradictions and incompatibilities. There are twin emphases in the book: how do the Mohave view a piece of behavior, a symptom, asyndrome; and how are these to be understood psychoanalytically. The book is so organized, and this is no mean feat, that the data (including the Mohave interpretations) are clearly separable from the interpretations given by Devereux the anthropologist and by Devereux the psychoanalyst. While it abounds inpsychoanalytic theorizing, it is also rich in concrete data. It contains 140 case histories.The data were gathered in the course of three extended field seasons (1932-33, 1936, 1938) and four briefer visits. Devereux used informants and interpreters. In the evaluation of any book of this kind, which sets forth congruities between anthropological data and the theories and data of psychoanalysis, the question immediately arises whether the anthropological data have been distorted by the psychoanalytic bias of thc observer. For the present work the answer may be given in thenegative. During the time of the gathering of the material, Devereux was, in his ownwords, “in a distinctly antianalytic frame of mind. In addition . . . so ignorant ofpsychoanalysis that . . . I could not possibly have suggested to my Mohave informantstheir theory of convulsions for the simple reason that I did not even know at that timethat there existed a similar psychoanalytic theory.”


"Folklore Archive" stamp on front end paper and title page, light rubbing to extremities. A very good copy issued without dust jacket.

SOLD 2018

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