Symbols of Transformation

It is evident that by this is meant not a physical, but a psychological cosmogony.

The world comes into being when man discovers it.

But he only discovers it when he sacrifices his containment in the primal mother, the original state of unconsciousness.

What drives him towards this discovery is conceived by Freud as the “incest barrier.”

The incest prohibition blocks the infantile longing for the mother and forces the libido along the path of life’s biological aim.

The libido, driven back from the mother by the incest prohibition, seeks a sexual object in place of the forbidden mother.

Here the terms “incest prohibition,” “mother,” etc. are used metaphorically, and it is in this sense that we have to interpret Freud’s paradoxical dictum: “To begin with we knew none but sexual objects.”

This statement is not much more than a sexual allegory, as when one speaks of male and female electrical connections, screws, etc.

All it does is to read the partial truths of the adult into infantile conditions which are totally different.

Freud’s view is incorrect if we take it literally, for it would be truer to say that at a still earlier stage we knew nothing but nourishing breasts.

The fact that the infant finds pleasure in sucking does not prove that it is a sexual pleasure, for pleasure can have many different sources.

Presumably the caterpillar finds quite as much pleasure in eating, even though caterpillars possess no sexual function whatever and the food instinct is something quite different from the sex instinct, quite unconcerned about what a later sexual stage may make of these earlier activities.

Kissing, for instance, derives far  ore from the act of nutrition than from sexuality.

Moreover the so-called “incest barrier” is an exceedingly doubtful hypothesis (admirable as it is for describing certain neurotic conditions), because it is a product of culture which nobody invented and which grew up naturally on the basis of complex biological necessities connected with the development of “marriage classes.”

The main purpose of these is not to prevent incest but to meet the social danger of endogamy by instituting the “cross-cousin marriage.”

The typical marriage with the daughter of the maternal uncle is actually implemented by the same libido which could equally well possess the mother or the sister.

So it is not a question of avoiding incest, for which incidentally there are plenty of opportunities in the frequent fits of promiscuity to which primitives are prone, but of the social necessity of spreading the family organization throughout the whole tribe. ~Carl Jung, CW 5, Para 652