From One Myth to the Other: From Totem and Taboo to Overview of the Transference Neuroses

By Patrick Merot

While Totem and Taboo and Overview of the Transference Neuroses are worlds apart, there is a common point in their inspiration, since each of these texts highlights a founding myth. Therefore, this article will compare them in order to show how one of these myths has become absolutely central in Freudian thought, while the other holds an ancillary and almost shameful place. How are we to understand such divergent theoretical destinies? Returning to what is at stake in these two texts, which are practically simultaneous, we maintain that extending the elaboration of the myth that is put forward in the Overview would have led the founder of psychoanalysis to fundamental revisions to his metapsychology, which in 1915 Freud was not ready for.


  • myth
  • epistemology
  • metapsychology
  • phylogenesis
  • Darwin
  • Robertson Smith
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