Hiatt and C. Jayawardena eds Anthropology in Oceania. San Francisco: Chandler. Hiatt ed. Australian Aboriginal Mythology. Canberra: Australian Institute for Aboriginal Studies. Hook, R.
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London and New York: Academic Press. Hughes, H. Kohon, G. London: Free Association Books. Kracke, W. Leach, E. Leiris, M. Paris: Gallimard. Paris: Presses universitaires de France. English revised edition, , Boston: Beacon Press. Paris: Pion. London: Allen Lane. Lewis, I. Lidz, R. Malinowski, B. Marcus, G. Mitchell, J.
Culture, Subject, Psyche: Dialogues in Psychoanalysis and Anthropology (Book Review)
Harmondsworth: Penguin. Morton, J. Morton and W. Sydney: Oceania Publications. Obeyesekere, G. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Okely, J. Rabinow, P. Ricoeur, P. Rabinow and W. Roheim, G. New York: International Universities Press. Rustin, M. London and New York: Verso.
Schwartz, T. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shweder, R. Sperber, D. Spiro, M. London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Stigler, J. Turkle, S. New York: Basic Books. Wylie, L. According to Plato in the Phaedrus, the Sophists created the philosophy of suspicion when they started to practise disbelief and to bring the narratives back down to earth.
To say that Orythia was carried off by Boreas means simply that a woman died after being blown off a cliff by the north wind.
What about centaurs, the Chimaera, the Gorgon, Pegasus and the other legendary monsters? The Stoics were subsequently to translate the whole of Greek polytheism into metaphysical terms relating to matter, form and natural phenomena. Thus, early in the western tradition, myth became a narrative that could be understood only by going beyond its literal meaning.
A refusal to take this step meant sticking to popular opinion, allowing oneself to be swayed by unquestioning beliefs. Here I am reiterating what everyone knows in order to establish from the outset the legitimacy of psychoanalytic interpretation as one going beyond the literal. When psychoanalysis turns towards mythology, using an interpretative technique that deciphers, decodes and reduces the phenomenon of narrative to a noumenon whose nature it claims to understand, no one should challenge the hermeneutic principle in the approach. It is surely the very opposite, not seeking to go beyond the living freshness of the story, that would be strange.
An interpretative approach, sceptical about the actual words and syntax of the story, is thus certainly legitimate. However, it is another thing to ask whether it is also valid or, indeed, credible? We know how hard George Devereux had to fight in order to convince Hellenists of the scientific character of his exegesis.
He wanted to lay the basis for a joint understanding between philologists and psychoanalysts in order to give an entirely new and scientific understanding of Greece. I will try to show how his quest for truth gives value to his work and also the reasons why specialists in other areas have failed to understand it. In order to identify the psychoanalytic approach, and more specifically that of Devereux, I will briefly compare the interpretations of the same story by different major commentators.
We shall thereby see whether the psychoanalyst demonstrates the validity of his conclusions any better or any worse than other recognised interpreters. Of the narratives that have been subject to various readings, only one allows us to compare J. The fact that these important commentators have all dealt with it is one thing; a more significant reason for studying it is that the non-psychoanalytic interpreters have expressly rejected Freud in a move to repossess the text distorted in The Interpretation of Dreams.
An interest in Oedipus thus merges with a critique of Freudianism. There is also a third reason for turning to Oedipus: what is stated literally in it, and which Freud records as it stands, poses probably even more problems than that which can be found between the lines. To recount the plot briefly. Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes, have a child whom they expose on Mount Cytheron, since the oracle predicted that if they had an heir he would kill Laius and sleep with Jocasta.
The child survived. He was handed over to a shepherd by the ox-handler given the job of leaving him to die. The shepherd made a gift of him to his masters, Polybus and Merope, king and queen of Corinth. The child grew up believing himself to be the legitimate offspring of his adoptive parents. Upset by this he sought reassurance from his parents.
They reinforced the lie by telling him he was indeed their son. In his anxiety he went off to Delphi to consult the oracle, and was told that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. To escape this fate he resolved never to return to the parents he thought his own in Corinth. Arriving at a crossroads he encountered a band of unknown men, who were in fact Laius and his retinue.
After killing them in a quarrel Interpreting the implicit 31 over rights of way, he moved on to Thebes.
By thus freeing the city, he was given the wonderful chance to rebuild his life: marrying Jocasta, ruling Thebes and having healthy children. Plague broke out. Oedipus undertakes to discover the murderer and swears awful revenge. Soon after, a soothsayer hints to him that he is the murderer and that he is associating with people who are too closely related. Instead of immediately linking this to the Delphic oracle, Oedipus flies into a rage.
So certain is he that his parents remain in Corinth that he begins to suspect his father-in-law and the soothsayer of a plot. He confides his suspicions to Jocasta. To reassure him, she proves how unreliable prophecies are by telling him that she was once told she would give birth to a son who would kill his father and sleep with her. To give the lie to this prophecy they had only to expose the son and, in any case, Laius had been killed at a crossroads by a brigand. Only now does Oedipus begin to waver. For the first time he wonders if there is a connection between the death of King Laius and the murder he committed at a crossroads near Delphi.
He trembles at the thought of the curses he himself has laid upon the murderer. Yet he is still certain that his father is alive in Corinth. Only by bravely pursuing enquiries into the murder of Laius does he finally learn the truth. Jocasta hangs herself. He unhooks the corpse from the beam, rips off the clasp holding her garments and tears his eyes out.
He speaks of the: gripping power of Oedipus Rex…the Greek myth seizes on a compulsion which everyone recognises because he has felt traces of it in himself. Every member of the audience was once a budding Oedipus in phantasy, and this dream-fulfilment played out in reality causes everyone to recoil in horror. Letter to Fliess, 15 October , in Freud, —4 The story as it stands transposes into reality a dream that is more or less repressed in the spectator.
That can be answered in a word. It is on these grounds, moreover, that Freud distinguishes Oedipus from Hamlet. In Hamlet it remains repressed; and—just as in the case of neurosis—we only learn of its existence from its inhibiting consequences.
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Thus, in Oedipus, incest and parricide are narrated in all their unconscious fatality. Poetic language is no obstacle; on the contrary, it stages them and shows them being realised. This realisation or bringing to light, however, is compared by Freud to dream fulfilment. In their luminous transparency the narratives of antiquity allow a character to realise his desire and even the basic fantasy of the child. The narrative functions like any dream.
What it unfolds is not merely a chain of discourse: it works out a symbolisation of desires, more or less deeply encoded. Behind the adventures of a character lies the unconscious desire of the child, of any child, of us all. This incestuous human desire is not in the text; it is in Freudian theory. The idea of the unconscious is not there either; it is hidden, encoded in the literary terms of blindness and destiny, and it too belongs to psychoanalysis. Freud, then, draws our attention to what is perfectly obvious in the tragedy, but he does so in order to get sight of a phenomenon which, one way or another, needs to be understood, explained, explicated.
It is this reference to a desire that is unconscious—and therefore unspoken in every society—that embarrasses specialist interpreters. And from their standpoint they are probably right. The idea of unconscious desire belongs elsewhere. Listening to Hellenists makes one feel that they are concerned only with the respect due to the text or to the Greek reality places where one finds no unconscious desire and not with refuting psychoanalytic theory. But does not defending their own non-psychoanalytic approaches to literature and myth also involve applying to the surface of texts other interpretative methods that are, perhaps, no less damaging and abrasive?
On closer inspection, the major commentators on Sophocles choose to go beyond what is said and treat the murder of the father and the marriage of the mother as signifying something else. It is only when faced with the thing that Freud naively took at its face value—the gripping drama of incest—that exegetists take their distance! Arguing from the symbolic links justified by the Greek ethnographic context, Vernant saw the drama as one about land and power.
Ricoeur devoted a chapter of his Freud and Philosophy to an exercise in dialectics based on the Oedipus. This demonstrated that the sceptical hermeneutic approach interpreting as unmasking, reducing appearances to an underlying reality must be accompanied by a further level of understanding as a way of recovering a meaning for oneself. He in fact claimed that Freud himself had set the same example. According to him, Freud began with a sceptical interpretation, decoding the tragedy by treating it as a sexual dream. The complexity of his approach warrants some discussion.
The fictional time-span of the narrative as it unfolds over several generations allows him to note the recurrence of related mythemes that can be grouped under four headings: the overrating of blood relations as evidenced in incest; the underrating of blood relations as evidenced in their murder; the murder of autochthonous monsters and by implication the denial of human autochthony ; the persistence of human autochthony. We need only note the distance between the mythical plot and the meaning revealed by analysis of the mythemes. Using the ethnographic context stressing autochthony a theme that does not figure in the story produces a markedly different result.
The common and generic language of the tribe in no way underwrites the meaning of the specific individual words used by the poet. The hermeneuticist must rise to the level of the poetic intention and grasp its uniqueness. Bollack actually treats the Oedipus story as a single entity contained within a hermeneutic web which reveals its full meaning by itself: Oedipus is born damned because his lineage has reached a kind of saturation point.
Because in Thebes, the home of plenitude and autonomy, any concentration of individual authority would endanger the world order. Here too, however, we can measure the gap between what the story says no mention of any particular vindictiveness on the part of the God of Delphi and the meaning uncovered by the hermeneuticist. Interpreting the implicit 35 We can then sum up as follows: readers like Vernant and Delcourt find in the story a political meaning which makes the sexual element irrelevant. The correct interpretation is thus the one which respects what the text says in its own context and not in a void.
Bollack emphasises instead the untimely birth of Oedipus; what follows is merely the sterilisation of his race. We are thus drawn either towards an emphasis on the Greekness, or even the peculiarly Sophoclean nature of the plot Delcourt, Vernant, Bollack , or towards its existential universality Ricoeur. I do not intend to pass judgement on the interpretations that I have outlined.
I wish merely to show how non-psychoanalytic commentators face up to the question of validating their interpretations by using the text, the ethnographic context and universal subjectivity as a way of leading up to George Devereux. How will the psychoanalyst set about this same task?
Freud read the text and sought to explain why, in itself, it had so striking an impact. Devereux, however, and this is why the comparison not only with Freud but with the others is relevant, found in it scope for his own style of interpretation. Indeed, he dealt with the Oedipus myth in the very lecture in which he laid down the rules of the method of complementarity as it applies to the Greeks. His unpublished text is in two parts: the first is a plea to stick more closely to basic clinical principles when analysing cultural materials; the second shows that at a deep level self-blinding symbolically represents a castration, even though it may also refer to other kinds of blindness.
The point that concerns us is the rigour of psychoanalytic interpretation and the relationship between what is said blinding and what is thereby symbolised castration. Yet, when confronted by cultural productions, they allow themselves to draw directly upon a wealth of symbols allegedly codified once and for all. A direct reference to Jung makes the point of this polemic clear. The analyst and the classicist therefore form the perfect team, the latter providing the knowledge to be analysed.
With the Hellenist as the mouthpiece, Greece can unfold its symbolic and linguistic idiosyncrasies. This opening proves the importance Devereux attaches to readings of the Oedipus myth and shows his wish to stress the logic of his approach. Devereux is extending to the study of a culture from antiquity and for which only written information remains the same interpretational method he advocates in his clinical treatments and in his ethnological investigations.
His basic idea is that culture does not constrict or squash the individual, but rather that symbolic systems structure the subject and thus make him human. This structuring, moreover, does not amount to imposing uniformity or mimetic homogeneity; culture, on the contrary, offers individuals the means of differentiating and individualising themselves.
In other words, different cultures, with their varied types of encoding, support behaviour that is flexible and personal. By making sublimation possible they allow living desires to be expressed creatively, albeit in contingent and individual ways. Just as the psychoanalyst is Interpreting the implicit 37 dealing with subjects who speak a particular language, belong to a certain kinship system, received such-and-such an education, all of which give form and content to their ways of being, so the reader-analyst finds texts that are already structured and stylised.
And, just as the psychoanalyst must try to grasp the cultural and sociological codes of his patients—something which is all the more difficult when these codes are close to his own—so must he situate the fictitious characters who interest him within their own system of cultural references. Even Oedipus, then, a figure whose archetypal character might seem to set him apart from cultural determinism, can be the subject of a complementarist analysis. The question that exercises Devereux initially falls within the realm of cultural encoding. Why did Oedipus poke out his eyes, why did he choose this particular means of castrating himself?
The argument runs as follows: 1 By killing King Laius and marrying Queen Jocasta Oedipus committed an anachronistic deed: he behaved simply in the way anyone wishing to inherit power would have been required to act ritually in pre-Doric Greece, before the introduction of patrilineal transmission of sovereignty. In any event, he is not killing his lawful or social father since Laius exposed him without going through the ceremony by which a man accepted his children. Therefore 5 Oedipus has no need to punish himself for parricide and incest: firstly, because he was punished in advance, and, secondly, because the father he killed was first and foremost a king and from a social point of view which is the main thing in paternity he was not related to him.
The young man who set out from Corinth knew that he was exposing himself to the fate depicted by the oracle; he should have avoided killing middle-aged men and marrying a widow older than himself. Failure to recognise his biological parents was thus a false piece of non-recognition for Oedipus. Unconsciously he began to feel that he was the real son of Laius from the moment when he decided to avenge his death. At this point in the argument Devereux feels the need to tone down the fact of non-paternity. Devereux then effectively modifies his first claim: the time when filiation required the ritual of amphidronia accepting the child was followed by a more patriarchal period when the bond of paternity was deemed to exist even without ritual and despite the exposure of the child.
We find in the Oedipus myth a conflict between two cultural models. This, according to Pucci , is in fact the most interesting and promising part. When it comes to validating and legitimating his approach, he is just as scrupulous as those other classicists who have dealt with the ethnographic context. But does that make him any more convincing?
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Unfortunately, his proof is weak precisely at the point where he relies on classical scholars. He overestimates their accuracy, their grasp of problems which are often dealt with only by conjecture or as part of polemical exchanges with colleagues. Thus, all the arguments about succession, filiation and the punishment for parricide must be treated with caution.
On the other hand, Devereux is at his best when he analyses the unconscious intentions of the characters in the tragedy. The fragile status of complementary analysis in this case derives less from the use of psychoanalysis than from the hypothetical nature of the expert evidence.
Lille: Presses Universitaires de Lille. Chartier and P. Le Monde 28 June. Calasso, R. London: Cape. London: Hogarth Press.
London: Imago. Pucci, P. Dennis Savage. Vernant, J. Vernant and J. VidalNaquet, Myth and Tragedy. New York: Zone Books. Thus, as in Sophocles, sight is endowed with power. Nor is incest ever referred to directly. The only absolute prohibitions are between primary relatives father-daughter, mother-son, brother-sister and even here, as has been mentioned, they are rarely referred to and, even when they are, only indirectly. But I am going to show that, on the contrary, there is a tendency towards endogamy, with its associated preoccupation with incest and incestuous longings—in other words, a complex of egoistic and repressed fantasies.
This hidden aspect of Guro culture appears to be complementary to what is openly expressed and reveals itself through the seams of their social fabric, hinted at in their art and literature and in some forms of customary behaviour. In the following explication, a Guro song by the singer Bolia takes the central place, along the lines of the case study used by Devereux to outline his theory of complementarity and to show how a psychological account may be set against a sociological one.
Their home is spread over several administrative areas in the middle of the Ivory Coast. At the time of the French conquest —12 the Guro were densely concentrated on the savannah and were more sparsely dispersed in the forested areas. They were primarily farmers, but also weavers, warriors and traders.
In their habitat they took over from other people who may be termed Proto-Mande with whom they have partially fused and who are now encapsulated on their fringe: Youre, Wan, Mwan, Gagu and Sokya. Guro tradition has it that they came from the North with the Dan, from whom they became separated, although they still consider and treat each other as brothers.
Their migrations may be summarised as follows. In the course of constant micro-migrations they slowly flowed back from Bouake and became infiltrated by the Baule with whom indeed they sometimes became assimilated. In short, many Guro were once Bete or Baule, just as many of these latter two are themselves of Guro stock. Traditionally, Guro society was acephalous and the patrilineage was coextensive with a small village. Each of these tribes has a name and has certain economic, martial and also matrimonial functions, with marriage partners being sought among enemy lineages.
Tribes are thus linked by complicated sets of friendly and hostile relationships, with a tribe which is a friend of your enemies not necessarily being your own enemy. This complex network also includes tribes of other ethnic groups such as Mwan or Monan, which are part of the system, having formerly been occupants of the northwestern part of the Guro habitat. What 42 Complementarity happened here, particularly in the northern part of Guro territory, was that, during the fierce resistance to the French invasion, many villages were burnt and their inhabitants were later regrouped.
These new villages did not necessarily consist of a single lineage. Guro descent is patrilineal. Assets and authority pass first from the elder to the younger brothers, and then to the eldest son of the eldest brother. This adelphic transmission has resulted in numerous splits and migrations. Deluz, and Residence is virilocal. For a woman, marriage is thus an exile, while, for a man, the presence in his lineage of wives from outside threatens to pollute the earth representing his ancestors.
A wife may not be taken from a related lineage and bridewealth must circulate in the opposite direction to wives. This means that no woman may be given in marriage to someone of a lineage from which her lineage has already received bridewealth within a span of four generations. Marriages between affines may, in theory, occur only in two doubtful situations where the partners are on the edge of incestuous restrictions. First, a girl may be given in marriage to a patrilateral affine e.
An examination of this in relationship to kinship norms, which it both expresses and Incestuous fantasy and kinship among the Guro 43 contradicts, will demonstrate the kind of complementarity that is to be found among the Guro between the ethnographic phenomena and their fantasied ideological counterparts. This development has been furthered by a famous singer, called Bolia, who has refined some of these insults, and what they mean, in a poetic form. In his mouth these achieve an epic quality. It evokes the well-worn theme of a primordial marriage between man and animal.
The child of Na, the daughter of the Guo, named Yuro, has for father a pangolin. Then, you should say that Bolia often speaks of it. Long years ago, when the earth was sweet [i. Yuro, a man of the Guo tribe, bewailed, as he lay prostrate before his dwelling. If war comes he will be killed [and there is thus no point in his eating]. When at midnight he rises to urinate, he sees in front of his house a metal chain hanging from the sky on which is fixed a duan [a word with the dual meaning of metal ring and watchman]. Yuro, the Guo, then returns gently to earth down the metal chain.
In the house where his daughters slept! And when he goes to his fields he leaves his daughter 44 Complementarity in the village so that she may watch over it. Everywhere, the story is told that a pangolin has its hole within that house. The men of Uebikohoufla come to see; the men of Byanwinefla come to wonder. All say. Your daughter is about to give birth and she has not spoken [i. I am her mother and this birth we shall bear together. This pangolin whose pelt is a shell has put my daughter with child. Tomorrow I will kill it. That night he leaves his shell and climbs back to the sky whence it had come.
The yu of the war is spoilt and woman is no longer kin to mankind. The child grows. He stays with Yuro. However, he was not born of the pangolin; he was conceived by man. It is the child of a man and the pangolin has been blamed for his birth. Yet, this insult also recalls the promiscuity which is brought out in the psychoanalytic literature about incest where it is linked to deep loneliness.
I think that the singer Bolia himself knows this. Each of these shows, in its own style, a young pregnant woman: the aureoles of the breasts are enlarged, the belly protruberant, the upper part withdrawn, the buttocks in a characteristic posture. The girls look sad and worried, not knowing what has happened to them. In the song, the daughter is thus, in coded form, speaking of incest. What most believe is that the insult makes fun of them because the pangolin from whom they are descended is no help in war. The fact is, however, that the men of the Guo tribe are some of the best warriors among the Guro although they have no war fetish.
Indeed, they are said to be so wicked and dangerous that, if they had a yu, they would be impossible. Another explanation for their lacking a war fetish can be found in another of their myths of origin which I transcribed in Banti is blind. His two sons are of different mothers.
The elder, Bronon [eponymous with the Guro tribe called Bronon], is a farmer and he works for his father. The younger, Guo, is a hunter and regularly brings meat to his father. Banti promised his fetishes and wealth to Guo. Banti accordingly gives him his yu and when Guo returns, Banti can no longer keep his promise. My son Guo and his children will be few in number but they will be victors in all their wars. This theme is not only found in the Bible but it is in the nature of a more general motif, a Wandersagen. The father, Banti, is a figure who is recognised as at the origin of long migrations including that of some of the Bronon.
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Guo is probably the son of a younger and local wife. Perhaps this mythical fragment Incestuous fantasy and kinship among the Guro 47 serves to justify the domination of younger brothers by their elders, emphasising the domination of the Mande Guro over the Proto-Mande Namane. In any case, the Guo have no need of magic to make war, since they are, eponymously, war itself. History has indeed brought this fate to the Guo. The French considered them to be ferocious fighters against the conquest and, while some Guo lineages have spread into other tribes, very few Guo remain in their traditional habitat.
In , their seven former villages had been reduced to two lightly populated ones. This article has provided an extended ethnographic case study of how an integration of anthropological and psychoanalytic sensibilities can increase the depth and dimensionality of our understanding of both individual and cultural psychodynamics.
By displacing conflict and negative social affect into a register of experience dominated by unconscious phantasy and associated processes of splitting and projection , the persecution dream serves to both contain and amplify anxieties related to existential vulnerability and the vicissitudes of anger and interpersonal discord. But on its own, this is not enough.
The persecution dream reveals an individual threatened both from without by the reified aggressors postulated in local ethnotheories, vivified through the process of projection and from within by disavowed emotional materials that are projected into the world. Diffuse anxieties that are registered first in the social realm are soon transposed into theater of the dream, manifesting as persecution dreams, which are later recounted, received, and engaged with as a feature of consensual reality.
Of course, as with any psychic product, the meaning of phantasy is overdetermined: multiple and conflictual representations, both veridical and defensively inflected, can exist side by side within any individual. Highland Maya persecution dreams are no exception; they may reflect more or less accurate dramatizations of real-life conflicts, or they may derive from conflicts that are primarily intrapsychic fears and projections.
Similarly, they may aid in the processing of—and adaptation to—a difficult social milieu marked by opacity and misdirection, while simultaneously serving to manage conflictual forms of self-experience centering on hostility and aggression—feelings that might be too dangerous to contain within the consciously organized self of waking life. Regardless, the cultural and personal salience of persecution dreams among the highland Maya points toward the profound unconscious cost of the emotional work needed to suppress the many negative emotions of everyday social life in an attempt to live as a moral person.
Although this process takes place largely in the realm of phantasy—and, paradoxically, often results in greater mistrust and suspicion of surface appearances—the experience of persecution dreams among the highland Maya represents an attempt to maintain a relational world based on insight and understanding of human motives, feelings, and intentions, while simultaneously resurrecting affective experiences that have been strongly suppressed in waking life.
Freud as Philosopher: Metapsychology after Lacan. New York: Routledge. Brudzinska, Jagna. Lohmar and J. Brudzinska, 23— New York: Springer. Freud, Sigmund. Groark, Kevin. Murphy and C. Jason Throop, — In what ways can psychoanalysis stimulate anthropological thinking? Whereas previous work considering anthropological applications of psychoanalysis has often focused mainly on theoretical issues, our primary intention is to explore how concepts deriving from psychoanalysis can inspire ethnographic work.
Psychoanalytic concepts can, we propose, contribute to the development of heightened ethnographic sensibilities, helping to bring into analysis aspects of human existence that are otherwise ignored, downplayed, and subdued. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in China, Denmark, Palestine, and Vietnam, the articles in this collection demonstrate how this capacity to capture subdued aspects of life may hold particular importance for anthropological analyses of power and dominance, helping to refine our understanding of the mechanisms through which some forms of existence and experience come to achieve social force and authority, while others are marginalized or hidden from public view cf.
Devereux Each in their own way, the articles in this special issue illustrate how anthropological analysis can be enriched by a psychoanalytically attuned attention to events that unfold at the margins of individual consciousness and at the edges of collective life; to the socially submerged and suppressed. All authors turned to psychoanalytic concepts at a relatively late stage of their research process; none went into the field thinking in terms of psychoanalysis, but all have found significant conceptual inspiration in psychoanalytic theory when working with their ethnographic materials.
This article is based on fieldwork in a Chinese Protestant house-church in Beijing—more specifically, it focuses on a form of group therapy, which took place in the vicinity of the church. Filial piety, the moral value that children should respect and honor their parents, who have sacrificed so much for them, remains a strong social norm in Chinese society.
The ritual and therapeutic context can be understood as a cultural defense mechanism, which celebrates an inversion of dominant societal norms.