The word “taboo” comes from the Polynesian Tapu that Cook brought back from his lengthy voyages at the end of the eighteenth century. It is used to refer to something that is absolutely forbidden and sacred, often ritualized and sometimes linked to notions of impurity. Transgressions are not permitted and the taboo itself is tacitly accepted by all. The internalization of what is forbidden is such that it is impossible to even imagine that things might be different. Anyone who breaks the taboo runs the risk of being punished and even destroyed.


Political Disagreement Political Choice Romantic Attachment Taboo Subject Xenophobic Position 
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  1. 1.
    James Frazer, The Golden Baugh, II: Taboo and the Perils of the Soul, p. 136, cited by Sigmund Freud in Totem and Taboo: An Lnterpretation for Psychoanalysis of the Social Life of Primitive Peoples (1913) (Oxon: Routledge Classics, 2001), p. 33.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 2014

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  • Anne Muxel

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