Why is it so hard to investigate taboo topics? A myriad of
forces shape and fashion human action, reaction, thought, and
feeling, and these are not always well understood. Norman L.
Farberow argues that culture itself provides structure for its
members, developing in a well-defined way the rules to which they
will conform. Such rules find expression not only in written laws
and regulations but include, and most often stem from, unwritten
folkways, customs, and especially taboos, the subject of this
The researchers reporting in this volume take no position on the
nature of a taboo itself, but concentrate on the difficulty in
investigating taboos. As members of society and human beings, they
do make judgments and personal investments. Thus, when taboos
continue or develop without useful society-enriching functions or
facilitate self-destructive activities, they raise questions about
why they persist.
Such topics include many areas--some social, such as sex, death,
and peace; others more academic, such as parapsychology,
graphology, religion, and hypnosis. Peace and the public are
included in the discussion because they are emotion-laden areas and
powerful and important factors in a shrinking world and expanding
universe. Peace, especially, has begun to be looked upon with
suspicion--perhaps a real commentary on our times. This probing
collection will be sure to interest sociologists, anthropologists,
and all other social scientists.
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