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A Look at Taboo

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Throughout history, ethics, morals and general social conduct come in a state of constant flux, to this type of extent a large number of practices which are considered unacceptable during the past are a common constituent of our own daily lives. The social conventions which govern many aspects of any given period are essentially a combination of tradition, innate morality (if such a thing is to be conceived as existent); which can be to some degree enforced by ideological state apparatus with the ilk of the church and racial heritage; and also the laws almost daily make, as upheld from the governing body through repressive state apparatus for example the police and therefore the judicial system. A most forceful and interesting instance of this really is found in our idea of the phrase 'taboo'.

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In the assortment of his essays entitled "Totem and Taboo" first published in 1919,Sigmund Freud posits amongst other activities, his interpretation from the role of taboo in background present day day, ultimately linking it together with the actions and views of neurotics. Freud, in Chapter 2: Taboo and the Ambivalence of Emotions presents the intriguing paradox that: "For us madness of taboo branches off into two opposite directions. On one side it means to us sacred, consecrated: but conversely it means, uncanny, dangerous, forbidden, and unclean." (P41)

Simply because this apparent contradiction of definitions indicates; the common concept of taboo: from the eyes of Freud focuses upon prohibitions and desires. Inside text, Freud elaborates that in ancient civilisation, most notably in Polynesia; taboo served several functions. Not only achieved it guard those involved with power against assassination via a network of superstitions which prevented direct contact from a chief and a common man, but additionally fulfilled the same task in protecting the vulnerable. Simultaneously, taboo as they are produced in the quotation from Northcote W. Thomas' article about them within Totem and Taboo, protected someone's property from theft, prevented the intake of particular animals and substances and barred interaction together with the corpses of the dead. Consequently it can be judged that taboo is normally held that need considering truley what through threat of negative repercussions, is restricted or prohibited.

In his review of the sumptuous little tome: 'The Wordsworth Dictionary of Obscenity and Taboo', James McDonald offers an outline of how in which taboos work with contemporary society rather than as being a universal concept: "In practice, therefore, our chosen taboos reflect our communal attitudes, it comes with recently English speakers have tended to stigmatize sex and excretion must say something about our collective mentality." (p6 1988) As McDonald suggests; taboo leads inevitably to the imposition of euphemisms to prevent direct utterance of particular socially prohibited terms. Consequently these euphemisms themselves gain taboo status for that reason, one could presume, from the familiarity due to persistent usage, which often grants them an even closer connection to encounter or object of taboo as opposed to term they served to exchange.

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