Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Animectomy Complex

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_31


Term coined by American psychologist William Herbert Sheldon, Ph.D., M.D. (1898–1977). Though better known for his theory of and work with somatotypes, Sheldon wrote a book on a psychological approach to religion, education, and medicine entitled Psychology and the Promethean Will (1936). Despite demonstrating the influence of William James, the book appeared soon after Sheldon’s pilgrimage to Europe in 1934–1935 where he studied the psychophysiological work of Ernst Kretschmer, conversed with Sigmund Freud, and spent considerable time with C. G. Jung discussing the theory of psychological types. The “animectomy complex” was coined not only “in good-natured appreciation” but also for “poking good-natured fun at” the Freudians for “their utterly delightful castration complex” (Sheldon 1936: viii, 200).

Sheldon asserts that the word “animectomy” follows in the somewhat “vulgar” practice in medicine to mint neologisms from an admixture of Latin and Greek terms. In this case,...

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  1. 1.The Intermundia Press, LLCWarrentonUSA