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Since the shaman does not psychoanalyze his patient, we may conclude that remembrance of things past, considered by some the key to psychoanalytic therapy, is only one expression (whose value and results are hardly negligible) of a more fundamental method, which must be defined without considering the individual or collective genesis of the myth. For the myth form takes precedence over the content of the narrative. This is, at any rate, what the analysis of a native text seems to have taught us. But also, from another perspective, we know that any myth represents a quest for the remembrance of things past. The modern version of shamanistic technique called psychoanalysis thus derives its specific characteristics from the fact that in industrial civilization there is no longer any room for mythical time, except within man himself. From this observation, psychoanalysis can draw confirmation of its validity, as well as hope of strengthening its theoretical foundations and understanding better the reasons for its effectiveness, by comparing its methods and goals with those of its precursors, the shamans and sorcerers. (204)


Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Structural Anthropology.  Trans. Jacobson, Claire and Brooke Grundfest Schoepf.  Basic Books 1963. 

See Also

Lexicon Entries

Le Monde Perçu
Training of the Self By Oneself
The Analyst as Artist

Works and Days






Tags: Claude Lévi-Strauss

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