Who was Géza Róheim and what did she contribute to psychology and anthropology?
M.P. Ossa | Certified Educator
Géza Róheim was a Hungarian ethnologist. An ethnologist is a social scientist who specializes in the study of cultures and ethnicity. What sets him apart, however, is that he was also a psychoanalyst in his own right, therefore, he was the first to use the psychoanalytic method to analyze human culture.
There are implications to using psychoanalysis. It means that the traditions, tendencies and patterns of behavior expected of cultural traits are now to be studied under the perspective of the conscious, the pre-conscious, and the unconscious. According to Freud, who is the father of psychoanalysis, our personalities are divided up into the Id, or the animalistic, basic instinct-type unconscious which actually drives a lot of our behavior due to the many repressed emotions that lay within.
The conscious is what we are actually aware of at the time; it is our ego, or what we show the world. Whenever you say "just when you think you know someone", you are correct; you really only know their ego. What lays within, the ID, is hidden from all view. Then there is the Superego, which is the part of our personality that develops at the end. It is the pre-conscious and constitutes our morality and what we see as good or bad.
Under the psychoanalytic perspective, the SuperEgo and the Id battle constantly, and the Ego, with its limitations, tries to balance them out. All this being said, Roheim utilized this theory as the background of his work. Moreover, Roheim was the first to establish the material bond as the ground breaker of culture itself, that is, that it is in the bond created by nature between mother and child that the concept of "culture", that sense of belonging and identifying with the environment, is born.