The fantasies which overwhelm our rational thinking are in their essence the fruits of a mental image which is there to compensate for disappointments or psychological anxiety. When freed or emancipated from all restrictions and external taboos, these fantasies give a free reign to imaginary fictions which gradually develop and solidify into an influential narrative with far-reaching implications on our lives and way of thinking. It gives birth to all kinds of monsters, gods and demons.
But where does this imaginary mental image come from?
Psychological anthropology has revealed to us the source of these stories which are linked primarily to childhood. The child’s reliance on the external world which inspires a feeling of instability and cautiousness, and in turn leads to a sense of anxiety and psychological violence towards the other plays a dominant role in this respect. These feelings become more obvious when sometimes manifested in dreams and at other times elucidated in therapeutic sessions undergone by patients suffering from mental illness. But it is certain that we can see these feelings with more clarity in myths and legends and in all gods and religions.
Let us come back to the condition of infancy out of which those fictional images have grown and developed over time into mythological religions. Of course we need to look at these images from a rational perspective, that is to say, outside the sphere of sentiments inherited through rote learning and brainwashing and accumulating over a long period of time.
Certainly, we can not attribute the emergence of religions and gods to one factor. For there is not one single reason which accounts for this phenomenon, but rather various influential factors interacting among themselves and manifested in different ways among individuals and groups. More precisely, these individual psychological factors interact with genetic environmental collective influences. Religions are like a psychological sum which began with natural catastrophes endured by all living species till the emergence of the first humans and in the course of their gradual biological evolution.
Most of us will denigrate this thesis on the internalization of accumulating suffering in the human collective unconscious and will find it difficult to acknowledge its great importance or how it developed in the course of human history. Science is still, to this day, unable to provide the irrefutable mechanism which explains how this suffering has been internalized and transmitted. True, we have different theories which sometimes cancel each other out. However, I am dumbfound by individuals and institutions that do not subscribe to reason or scientific thinking and yet would not refrain from capitalizing on the inadequacy of scientific evidence to take from it only that piece of evidence or side of the argument which agrees with their religious doctrines. I can understand a scientific theory arguing against or refuting another one using as an excuse its inability to verify the findings of this or that other theory. But what I cannot understand is when individuals and groups living in and breathing fables and myths, fearing God and Satan and convinced about the divine unknown and predestination come to you boasting about scientific evidence they know nothing about and which they appeal to only to refute other theories and to prove the accuracy of their fables.
We cannot call these individuals or groups with any nicknames other than photocopying machines of rote information. Not only that but we can sense through their behavior, their ideas and their moral codes their impotency to admit to the primary importance of sexual instinct. It is this aspect of the overall scientific argument that I wish to focus on since it is largely overlooked by the believers’ selective and cunning appeal to scientific evidence.
These people can see and perceive only through the lens of that which has been forbidden by an emasculated god. They try and make up for this divine impotency by imposing a masculine ascendency predicated on the marginalization and then annihilation of femininity.
Let us delve into the fundamentals of gods and demons and understand the duality of good and evil. These dualities, I argue, are all derived from the sexual instinct. This is why the prohibition and disfiguration of instincts and drives is necessary so that fables exert their controlling power over human minds. In order to achieve a balanced and healthy cognitive state, one needs to understand the cognitive origins of myths and reconcile oneself with one’s instincts.
Let us travel in the meanderings of myths as found in aboriginal Indian tribes, and take a look at stories recorded by anthropological studies of the old inhabitants of the Andaman Islands to abstract their hidden meaning. According to Roheim, the Andaman’s myth is structured around the character of the primitive All-Father “Puluga”. As in the Freudian description of the father of the primal horde, “Puluga” confiscated for himself all the women of the tribe to satisfy his own sexual needs. But with the passing of time, the men of the tribe (or the sons) got together and murdered father “Puluga” and instituted in place of the original paternal prohibition laws which redefined sexual relationships among them. The image of the patricide is present in many myths and it was on the basis of this pattern that Freud formulated his thesis on the foundation of morality in its relation to the guilt complex. Every sexual relationship is predicated on this archetypal act of guilty reconciliation with the patricide which paradoxically reinforced the paternal law through the prohibition of incest between mothers and sons and then between brothers and sisters.
Let us take a close look at these myths which show that perhaps the sons’ sexual desire for their mothers can be the result of a mutual desire between them. The mystery of the mother’s pregnancy without a direct intercourse with her son is present in many totemic, Greek and other myths.
We need to understand the nature of this special bond between mother and son which was subject of prohibition before the prohibition of incest between sisters and brothers and then father and daughter. It is possible to say that the father’s lack of knowledge about his direct involvement in procreation contributed to the delay in the second and third types of prohibition (father-daughter and brother-sister).
Analytic experiments of neuroses carried out in the field of psychological anthropology show that the first masculine anxiety derives from the castration complex, not before but during intercourse. The fear of the female sexual organ (during intercourse) is confused with the fear of castration (which should precede intercourse). These are two different forms of anxiety which are however collapsed in one moment and experienced anachronistically. Similarly, the child’s desire to return to his mother’s womb reflects contradictory feelings between sexual desire and the fear of sex at the same time.
In the myth of “Biliku” (a female spider), the mother symbolizes protection from danger. “Tarai” (a Monitor lizard) is the son-husband subjugated to her authority and at the same time complicit with her (since Biliku and Tarai are also the Andaman’s names for the two prevailing monsoon winds). The mother-son intimate relation reflects a mutual desire for sexual intercourse maintained in a state of perpetual tension. This translates in the Freudian discourse as the tension between the super-ego which plays the role of religion and morality, and the feminine character which represents the libido and the return to original instincts. Perhaps it is for this reason that spiritual religions have given women a privileged role as objects of sexual desire.
We can say that the marginalization of the feminine, the restriction of her role to procreation and the denigration of her sexual desires all have something to do with the ambiguous relation between the son and his mother. There is, on the one hand, the son’s fear of and desire for the mother, and on the other hand, there is the controlling and protective nature of the mother mixed with her penis envy, that is to say, her continuous pursuit to compensate for her lack.