Why don’t people incest: is civilization taboo or nature?


in the vast majority of human civilization, the incest taboo, about the discussion of the cause of the taboo, is undoubtedly a protracted war: one side is the Austrian psychologist sigmund Freud (s. Freud) and its followers, they think incest psychology is the natural desire of the subconscious, taboo is external control culture, this assumption is also called the Oedipus complex; Side is Finnish anthropologist mark west (e. Westermarck) and its followers, they think the incest taboo itself is a kind of ancient instinct, rather than the result of certain cultural construction.

if the west mark from 1891 published book human history of marriage, for the incest taboo debate has lasted for over 100 years. Arguments can be used are turning to describe the trend of the two sides of the first half of the 20th century, incest taboo invented as a culture views known, great influence, west mark hypothesis, unloved, go unattended to.

but starting from the second half of the 20th century, growing west mark have the upper hand, supported by more and more evidence & ndash; & ndash; Taboo is a kind of instinct, has close relationship with kin recognition mechanism. Compared with psychoanalysis Oedipus complex is still a wonderful full of literary metaphor, or worse, a is not confirmed or never proven concept.

animals protest: we’re not incest molecular

includes the famous French anthropologist Levi Strauss (Claude levi-strauss) and Freud, many scholars have arbitrarily think animals have incest instinct, their mating, seems to be both brioche, they can be a wife, who are available, so rare incest phenomenon in human society is the result of cultural repression. , however, think that animals have incest instinct seems to be the most animal abuse, they have reason to strongly protest & other; The idea comes from more imagination, rather than the fact that throughout the &; . Occasional incest between animals often result in offspring of recessive gene, and therefore the offspring of the left most & other; Die young & throughout; .

a zoologist, studies consistently show that incest is animal circles very rare case actually, many animals would avoid having sex with their relatives. 2006-2006, for example, biologists in China for up to six months to the macaque mating behavior observation records, found that as many as 360 times in their mating behavior, only 7 times is inbreeding, and there’s no mother and son incest phenomenon occurred.

duke university professor of evolutionary psychology and anthropology PuQian (a. e. Pusey) who wrote in 1996, such as intelligent animals will take various strategies to avoid the tragedy of inbreeding.

the first: migration. Many mammals after sexual maturity will leave their families. Even if other reasons, such as peer competition will lead to this result, but a lot of evidence that they are still trying to steer clear of their loved ones. After heterosexual parents were removed, the male and female white-footed mouse (white – footed mice) reduces the migration behavior.

the second: cheating. For few migrating animals, they use a way to cheat secretly against the close relatives. Male and female pilot whales (pilot whale) in its own territory, the rest of my life but all the father of the child come from other lands.

the third: kin recognition. Zoologist build just site in the laboratory, so that an animal can choose between different opposite sex partner, the results found that they typically avoid choose their own brothers and sisters or heterosexual partners with nest nest together.

4: delay mature. When the biological father be replaced by other young lions, will heat the lioness; When heterosexual parents were removed after the mature can accelerate white-footed mice. Has a similar phenomenon in human society, the status of the children of single-parent families seem to have premature, namely father absence leads to her daughter’s mature early, while the specific reason in dispute. (editor’s note, had a similar study, saw a brother girl more mature)

in 2005, PuQian systematically reviewed the primates widespread incest avoidance behavior, found that have the closest relations with human primates, immediate family incest between behavior almost non-existent. And so she concluded that without hesitation before human beings appeared, as an act of natural selection, to avoid inbreeding is already widely exists in other animals.

unable to civilization: the tragedy of the childhood sweethearts

according to the views of west mark, playing small children live together, I grew up can form between the sex, to show the behavior of the incest taboo. Even if no kinship between them, but the common experience of life will be as a kind of genetic clues, encouraging them to avoid the combination with childhood friends of the opposite sex. If culture force in combination with each other, because of the existence of sexual aversion may lead to their marriage life, unfortunately. Stanford, an anthropologist at the university of Virginia Woolf (a. P., Wolf) and shaffer (j. Shepher) classic study effectively support the west mark this hypothesis.

anthropologist studying the incest taboo, often through the analysis of some social phenomenon of marriage, Woolf and others research and so on. 60-90 – s of the 20th century, Virginia Woolf and others to day according to era, the phenomenon of child marriage 30 years of research, subjects as many as 14000 people. Under the child marriage system, girls often before they are sent to future husband at the age of four, with their little husband life together, and then the wedding to 17 years old or so. Besides child marriage system, the other two marriage custom is engaged after grew up don’t know the men and women, married or living in the family, or live in the home.

Woolf found that child brides fertility rates 25% lower than the average woman, compared to common women, they are more likely to betray her husband, their divorce rate is 3 times higher than the average woman. An important influence factors of a happy marriage or not is the age of the girl was adopted, the smaller the age grow up the more unfortunate marriage life. If they adopted when age above 3 years old, after marriage life with the average marriage usually are not too big difference. In the system of child bride, meet the boys and girls at age has no effect on the boy after marriage.

child bride compared with other women, their health level is not bad; At the same time, some child bride later to marry another man, for some reason the number of descendants make no difference with the ordinary women. That rules out cause child bride marriage unfortunately other two alternative hypothesis: they themselves poor health, or pressure in the adoptive families.

as Woolf explicitly pointed out: & other; Critics of west mark that incest taboo can prevent people do what they want to do, it’s actually not the case. On the contrary, the taboo is a kind of inevitable psychological emotional expression, whether social recognition & throughout; .

almost in the same period, schafer base butts commune of Israel ein gev) were studied (editor’s note: base butts commune is a kind of collective farms, Israel’s all property to the public, the members can enjoy children free to receive education, water and electricity benefits such as free of charge). In base butts commune, all the kids at a young age are trained nurse care, they eat and drink pull scatter in about 22 hours a day to stay together, so that the social life until their adolescence.

schafer observation of the 65 members of the base butts shows that do not have any members with the same commune of the opposite sex or marriage. Avoidance of sexual behavior and all is voluntary, and are not present in the commune’s formal or informal sanctions against sex, whether from mentors, parents, or other company. About 211 base butts 2769 investigating married men and women of a community, shaffer found no woman companion groups from the same commune before the age of 6. 13 for men and women had stayed in the same community, but eight is after 6 years of age, on the other 5 are before the age of 6, spent time but not more than 2 years.

like Woolf’s discovery, schafer study clearly support the west mark assumptions, namely, whether in the absence of cultural pressure butts commune, or culture encourages the combination of men and women child marriage system, common life will lead to childhood in adult men and women after a loss of sexual attraction to each other.


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Pusey, a. (2005). Inbreeding avoidance in Primates. In a. p. Wolf & amp; W. h. Durham (Eds.), Inbreeding, incest, and the incest taboo: the state of knowledge at the turn of the century (pp. 61-61). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

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