Freud placed
great emphasis on our primal instincts, namely sex and aggression. Through
culture, we are presented with a moral code or compass which hinders the free
and outright expression of these urges. Man is reduced to an ego-centric and
aggressive being. It is worth noting, however, that all mammals are social
beings, since the ability to live in groups provided an evolutionary advantage.

Therefore, it would be incorrect and reductionist to interpret symbolism in
non-Western countries purely from the psychodynamic perspective. Thus, anthropologists
interpret symbolism for the Tallensi of Ghana from the combined psychodynamic
and socio-historical perspective. From a socio-cultural perspective, the ambivalence
between the son and father is the outward expression of the tension the father
feels toward the son, seeing as the son symbolizes the father’s replacement
upon his passing away. Through the lack of interaction, the tension is resolved
and continues to be further resolved by the comforting, cultural concept of
ancestry and lineage. The tension felt by the boy towards his father, bears
resemblance to the same tension experienced by a boy during Freud’s Oedipus complex.

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This tension is resolved upon the son being allowed access to things like the
father’s bow which before his death were forbidden to him. In this way the boy identifies
with the father, the rivalry ends and the tension, typical of that of the Oedipus
complex is resolved. Both perspectives can also convey the symbolism the Ndembu
ritual symbol of the Mudyi tree. The milky sap from the Mudyi tree can come to
symbolize the oral phase characterized by breastfeeding and the oral pleasure
gained by deriving breast milk. The tree can also come to symbolize the social
relationship between the mother and daughter as well as the matrilineal
descent.