Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 156–164 | Cite as

Some observations on animism

  • David M. Moriarty


Twenty patients with the diagnosis of psychosis with cerebral arteriosclerosis and 10 patients with dementia praecox, hebephrenic type, were studied to determine the degree of primitive animism they showed. Only 40 per cent of the organic patients and 20 per cent of the schizophrenics tested in the adult stage. Their responses were compared with the work of Piaget with children and the work of Dennis and Mallinger with the aged.

Some other similarities between childhood thinking, schizophrenic thinking and the unconscious are indicated. There is a strikingly high incidence of primitive animism and syncretistic habits of thought in schizophrenia. Psychologic factors are more important than neurologic ones as a cause of primitive animism in the aged, although the latter also play a part. The question as to why all psychologically regressed patients do not show marked primitive animistic thinking remains unexplained.


Public Health Dementia Dementia Praecox Psychologic Factor Adult Stage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Freud, S.: The unconscious. In: Collected Papers, Vol. IV. Pp. 101–102. Hogarth. London. 1946.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    —: Totem and Taboo. In: The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud. Pp. 866–867. Modern Library. New York. 1938.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Piaget, J.: The Child's Conception of the World. Harcourt Brace, New York. 1929.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dennis, W.: Animism and related tendencies in Hopi children. J. Abnor. and Soc. Psychol., 38: 21–26, 1943.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Russell, R. W.: Studies in animism in older children. J. Genet. Psychol., 60: 329–335, 1942.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Russell, R. W.; Dennis, W., and Ash, F. E.: Studies in animism III: animism in feebleminded subjects. J. Genet. Psychol., 57: 57–63, 1940.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dennis, R. W., and Mallinger, B.: Animism and related tendencies in senescence. J. Gerontol., IV: 4, 218–221, 1949.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rothschild, D.: Pathologic changes in senile psychoses and their psychobiologic significance. Am. J. Psychiat., January 1937.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kris, Ernst: On preconscious mental processes. Chapter 23, p. 487, in: Organization and Pathology of Thought, David Rapaport, editor. Columbia University Press, New York. 1951.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Russell, R. W., and Dennis, W.: Studies in animism I: a standardized procedure for the investigation of animism. J. Genet. Psychol., 55:389–400, 1939.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Daneman, E. Adams; Chornesky, George, and Haycox, James A.: Psychosomatic investigations of cerebral arteriosclerosis with psychosis. Dis. Nerv. Sys., 18:165.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nunberg, H.: The synthetic function of the ego. Int. J. Psychoan., 12: 1931.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Freud, S.: On narcissism. In: Collected Papers. Vol. IV. Hogarth, London, 1946.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Piaget, J.:—Op. cit..Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Piaget, J.:—Ibid..Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Psychiatric Quarterly 1961

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Moriarty
    • 1
  1. 1.Worcester State HospitalWorcester

Personalised recommendations