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force his own views on the public as if they were legitimate inferences from psycho-analytic practice, or accepted truths of psycho-analytic doctrine. One striking instance of this may be mentioned. Throughout this book a notable depreciation of women and of all that is distinctly feminine, obtrudes insistently on the reader's mind. It looks as if the writer was in some way afraid of women. Again and again he declares that there is far too much 'artificial differentiation between the sexes, and he shows but grudging acceptance of such differentiation as nature has itself bestowed.". He thinks that moral education will some day ensure that the woman of the future is not differentiated from the man, either as regards clothing, business remuneration, or anything else 'artificial.'
Whatever Mr Bousfield's private views of the proper relationship and desirable difference, or lack of difference, between the sexes may be, or whatever opinions about woman's dress, woman's conversation, woman's titles and woman's privileges he may hold, he has no possible justification for implying that these views and opinions are based on the results of psycho-analysis, or that they correspond in any way to its aims. The past history of mankind provides us with enough examples of noble men and women to serve as models in the future, and we need neither hope nor expect to breed a race of artificial beings such as Mr Bousfield desires, or to construct a human society devoid of those amenities and courtesies which are naturally pleasurable to everyone. His diatribes against sex-differentiation are diatribes against the sex-instinct, against normal human nature and its normal enjoyments. A world of sexually indistinguishable human beings such as that looked forward to by Mr Bousfield is mere phantasy, and has no part or place in psycho-analysis-except in so far as, like all phantasies, it is not devoid of psycho-analytic meaning. In the past, man's jealousy has undoubtedly been the main factor in excluding woman from the enjoyment of much in life for which she is naturally qualified, but this has not been so detrimental to women or to humanity as would be the effect of man's fear, if it led him to attempt to deprive her of her womanliness and of her distinctive, feminine, part in life.
T. W. MITCHELL.
OEDIPUS AND THE SPHINX.
By THEODOR REIK.
Abstracted from Imago, Vol. vi, pt. 2, by CECIL M. Baines.1
Who solves the riddles sublime.” SOPHOCLES. Untrammelled by the long-cherished prejudices of a cultural society, psycho-analysis has thrown light upon the nature of the deepest psychic impulses, and, in so doing, has discovered the hidden meaning of the Oedipus myth in its universal application to mankind. It has taught us that the old story is that of the fulfilment of the two mighty, primitive desires, which are of crucial importance in the development of individuals and of peoples.
Psycho-analytic investigation may well busy itself with the figures of Oedipus, the riddle-solver, and of the Sphinx. In this paper an attempt is made to solve another riddle, that of the being of the Sphinx itself, the winged monster, sister of countless similar figures, which in prehistoric times were introduced from Western Asia.
In entering upon our discussion, two paths are open to us: we may seek to find the interpretation of the Sphinx in its connection with the Oedipus story, or to solve the riddle in conjunction with that of the allied figures of the ancient Orient. If we adopt the former method, we run the risk of taking for the original a late and secondary figure with all its acquired meanings; if the latter, we are confronted with difficult questions arising out of the development of human thought and belief. Yet this is the method we have chosen to adopt.
The Sphinx is not autochthonous to Greece, but is found in Egypt and the adjoining countries. These figures have a lion's body, and a human head, and are akin to the other phantastic hybrid creatures of antiquity, e.g. the siren, the harpy, the griffin and the cherubim.
These Sphinx figures vary in many particulars: some have male faces, others female; some are standing, others crouching or lying. They are found on all manner of objects: sculptured reliefs in temples, utensils of various sorts, ornaments and scarabs; some are colossal statues, others are of a delicate minuteness.
The many contradictory features in the Sphinx figures make interpretation difficult, whether it be attempted by psycho-analyst, historian, archaeologist or artist. The following are some of the many attempts at explanation: (a) the Sphinx represents a king or queen, as is shown by the efforts
after portraiture and by the inscriptions;
(d) they are symbols of wisdom, strength and understanding. 1 This abstract is, in the main, an abridged translation and is published here by kind permission of the Editors of Imago. (Ed.).
No really satisfactory explanation of the Egyptian Sphinxes has been arrived at, and the same is true of the Sphinx of Oedipus, which has been interpreted as a prophetess or a daring female robber. Modern explanations incline to the allegorical, the Sphinx being regarded as the understanding invisibly present in the head of man. Very popular are those interpretations which see in the Sphinx a symbol of Nature power, e.g. of Helios or Aether, sunrise or sunset, the waning moon or the powers of the under-world.
Nor have the psycho-analysts failed to seek an explanation. Rank would interpret the figure of the Sphinx by connecting it with the ancient myths which identify the human and the animal mother suckling their young. But, since the Sphinx combines the upper parts of a woman with the lower parts of a male animal, he has recourse to the familiar dream-vision in which all human beings, female as well as male, have the penis, and discloses a bidden. homosexual element in the interpretation of the Sphinx of the Oedipus myth, tracing to this element the anxiety affect. According to this theory the Sphinx would be a secondary representation of the mother. Laistner, in his wellknown work, The Riddle of the Sphinx, also makes use of the anxiety dream in his explanation.
C. G. Jung brings forward his theory of the theriomorphic representation of the libido. He sees in the Sphinx a "half-theriomorphic representation of that mother-imago, which may be designated the Terrible Mother, of whom we find many traces in mythology. The libido,” he says, “thus theriomorphically represented, is the repressed 'animal sexuality."" This is the root from which Jung always derives the theriomorphic attributes of the gods. According to this explanation then, the Sphinx is an 'anxiety animal,' showing clear traces of its mother-origin. It represents “an original incestuous amount of libido detached from the bond to the mother1.”
For any satisfactory explanation two things are necessary: (1) that all the striking and essential features of the Sphinx, however seemingly contradictory, should be made comprehensible, and (2) that the connection between the Oriental type of Sphinx and that of Greek legend should be made clear.
We will postulate that the Sphinx of Gise, representing the antique Western Asiatic type, is closely related to that of Oedipus as shown on Etruscan funeral urns.
Our investigations will take as starting-point the outward form of the Sphinx, which, as a creation of human phantasy, must yield its own interpretation. The creation of such a composite form is analogous to the condensation which takes place in dreams, by which one person in the dream may be a composite figure, bearing resemblance to several real people, often combining many contradictory features in a single whole.
A similar psychic creation occurs in the hallucinations of persons suffering from psychoses. Doctors who practise the psycho-analytic method have shown that the seemingly absurd figures are full of meaning, though investigations are necessarily incomplete owing to the peculiar nature of psychotic illness, in which there is a breaking of the connection with the real surroundings. Yet all analysts agree that the hallucinatory apparitions are in every instance subject to determination and that their explanation lies in the emergence of recollections of definite experiences and impressions, to which are attached special emotional affects. They can only be understood when their proper
place as a feature of the illness is assigned to them, and no exception to their absurdity is taken at the outset.
In illustration of these remarks we may quote the case of a patient of Dr Bertschinger, in which there was a special liability to apparitions of composite figures, e.g. (a) a goat with the upper part of a man or a woman, the apparition being accounted for by the fact that as a little child the patient had involuntarily witnessed coitus and mentally compared the man with a goat, and further, while staying in the country, had for the first time seen the male organ erected, in a goat; (b) a spotted hyena with the face and upper parts of a woman, the explanation of this figure lying in her recollection of an attendant who had offended her as a child of eleven, and whom she had compared with a spotted hyena, because she wore a spotted blouse and her eyes looked green and evil. In the case of recent impressions, the phantasy always recurred to past experiences of special feeling-tone: that is to say, the patient saw as an animal any person whom she had compared with an animal. A second person, who by reason of some characteristic possessed an imaginary or real similarity to the first, was either merged in the first figure, or was represented by a head attached to the body of the animal, or a particular characteristic was symbolised in some attribute of the phantasy. Each single part of the apparition had to be traced back from the recent experience to the experiences of early childhood.
So, in our interpretation of the Sphinx, where condensation is carried to a high degree, its attributes must be taken singly. Corresponding to the recollections of individuals which in dreams are superimposed one upon the other, deposits from the experiences of successive generations accrue in the formation of the mass psyche.
Folk-psychology takes us back to a time when there was no such great gulf as now exists between man and the animal kingdom. On the contrary the animal was held in special awe, and comparison with an animal was rather an honour than a shame. (In the case of our own children, we note that they find no difficulty in imagining themselves or others to be animals.)
Totemism, the first comprehensive religion of mankind, which made of the animal a divinity, rests upon this primitive attitude of mind. After many thousands of years the totem gave place to the anthropomorphic god, or rather, when we remember that the prototype of the god was the father of the primitive migratory peoples, we may say that the anthropomorphic god resumed his sway. Again, for thousands of years, the animal and anthropomorphic representations of the deity must have existed side by side, and when at last the anthropomorphic god finally prevailed, there must have remained, in spite of the repudiation of the animal-god, the recollection, charged with powerful emotional affects, of the important rôle it once played in religious worship. The animal body of the Sphinx remains as a relic of hoary antiquity, while the human head represents the anthropomorphic god of later times.
The combination of man and beast indicates the drawing of a comparison (cf. the case of a patient cited above), but it also reflects an historic process. The difference between individual and collective psychic activity is apparent in the fact that, in dreams, persons from real life are, by a process of condensation, blended with others recollected from early childhood, whereas, in prehistoric art, beings from far-off stages of development are comprehended in a single image with those figures which at the time engage its attention.
The representation of these two historic stages in the conception of the
deity, with its seemingly absurd blending of animal and human, leads us to suspect, according to the psychology of dreams, an element of unconscious mockery. Now it would be quite wrong to connect such a feeling with the overcoming of 'animal' sexuality-nothing was further from the mind of the ancient Egyptian-or with a tendency to deride the animal. Possibly, in the course of a long cultural development, the original high valuation of the animal may have given way to a lower estimation, which in historical times might tend to be treated symbolically after the manner of C. G. Jung, but as regards the early times in question such an anagogic conception, amounting rather to a repetition of a stage in development than an explanation of it, is beside the mark.
In the history of the development of the Sphinx, the political and national history of the ancient Egyptians is reflected. The people of Egypt in the earliest times were no single homogeneous race, but had absorbed many heterogeneous elements. Now tribal and local organisations had for the Oriental peoples, who only at a late period achieved a State organisation, a special significance from the religious point of view. As one god was assimilated to, or replaced by, another, their different characteristics went through a process of condensation. Similarly, in totemism, the totem of one tribe would be combined with the totem of another, and composite figures were formed, of which the Sphinx with ram's head and the griffin were indications of conflict and compromise between old and new, in a long succession in which the human-headed Sphinx was the last product.
Both historical and psycho-analytic methods of investigation make it clear how it comes about that the figure of the Sphinx represents both god and king. Amongst the early races, as amongst primitive peoples of to-day, there is very little distinction between the two. The Egyptian kings were deified and worshipped in special temples, and represented to their people "the mighty god,” golden Horus and especially the son of the sun-god Ra. As sign of their divine nature, the prehistoric kings wore the lion's skin (that of their totem animal), long after totemism had been succeeded by a higher form of religion.
To this brief sketch of a phase of religious development belongs the interpretation of the Sphinx as a sun-god. It seems certain that the worship of heavenly bodies originated in totemism, and that the elevation of the gods to the skies took place under the combined influence of natural processes, psychic revolutions and changes in the conditions of human life. Presumably the Zodiac bears witness in its composition to the totemistic origin of astral mythology and religion. The translation of the deities from the earth, their natural home, to the skies, manifestly belongs to a loftier and more advanced stage of religious development and shows a more spiritual outlook.
The elevation of the totems to the skies took place at a time when religion had already progressed from totemistic to higher conceptions of the gods. The totems, no longer answering to any need, could be thrown into the celestial lumber-room. In this connect on we may note the fact that this removal to a distance later became a universal euphemistic symbol for death, as is seen in dreams, poetry, folk-lore and mythology
Now this elevation of the gods betokens not merely an advance in religious ideas, but also an unconscious wish to depose the deities from their rule upon earth: that is
say, as man's awe of the gods rose to its highest point, their removal was desired by the unconscious revolutionary wishes which forced their way up. This expression
1 Cf. Freud's Traumdeutung.