Lovers of the magical and the curious will find Edward Clodd's book, "Magic in Names, and in Other Things," an extensive compilation of facts concerning a world-wide superstition. The connection between magic and religion, the magic which dwells in tangible things (such as the hair and the teeth) and in the intangible things (such as shadows, personal names, the names of the dead) are described and classified. Passwords, curses, spells, and amulets form the subjects for other sections of the book. I have discovered in it a charm against witches and ghosts which I am going to try upon an affliction that troubles me more than these: the cats of my neighbors. This is the first warning.
-The Weekly Review, Volume 3 
It can be said at once of this book that it should be in every psycho-analytical library. It is an exceedingly valuable collection of material, well ordered arid clearly expounded. The author wisely confines himself mainly to the presentation of this material, adding but little in the way of comment or explanation.
He begins with a description of the wide-spread belief in mana, in the power of influencing the world by non-natural processes, one probably identical with what in psycho-analysis is termed "the belief in the omnipotence of thought." How astonished anthropologists would be to know what a mana-like attitude is shown by the unconscious mind of the normal civilised adult!
The author describes how this belief is attached, first to concrete parts of the person such as the blood, hair, teeth, saliva, and so on, then to less material objects like the portrait, shadow, reflection, echo, and so leads up to the main theme of his work, the ideas and feelings of magic attaching to names of all sorts. This is subdivided into sections on personal names, names of relatives, birth names, initiation names, euphemisms, names of kings and priests, names of the dead, and names of gods. It becomes clear that the primitive mind attaches a perfectly extraordinary significance to names, and treats them on the one hand as concrete things in themselves and on the other as integral representatives of the personality. The belief, for instance, that it is safer to conceal one's name, and DEGREES that possession of it by an enemy gives him complete power over one, is to be met with in all parts of the world. The author, whose life's work has lain in anthropology and folk-lore, confines himself, it is true, mainly to savage races and peasants, but illustrations could be drawn from the most sophisticated classes and nations: he might, for instance, have commented on the dread thrill that passes through our House of Commons when the Speaker, on desperate occasions, has recourse to the last resort of threatening to "name" the recalcitrant member, one that rarely fails in its aim! It is thus far from true to say, as Mr. Clodd does, that "to the civilized man, his name is only a necessary label." Every medical practitioner knows that in a case of unconsciousness the patient's own name is the last sound to which he will fail to respond, and through Stekel's work on Namenverpfliditung we know to what an extraordinary extent a person's character and interests can be unconsciously influenced by the meaning of his name.
We see thus yet another field waiting to be fertilised by psychoanalysis, and in the meantime are grateful to Mr. Clodd for grouping the necessary material in such a useful and presentable form. -The International Journal of Psycho-analysis show more