Semen and The Sambia: New Guinea - Gilbert Herdt
To The Seminal Truth? Table of Content.
A Profound Ignorance of Human Sexuality
  Semen 'Cult': The Sambia

"The psychosocial phenomenon of semen depletion - a culturally transmitted belief that men's sexual contacts rob and empty them of their semen, maleness, and eventually life itself - is known from premodern and preliterate societies, including our own" (Herdt, 1999: 163)

" is a truism that the vast majority of Sambia men developmentally experience both modes - fellator and fellated - of homosexual activities. Although initiates vary in their interests, most engage in fellation on a regular basis. Furthermore, and although initiates, like youths, are initially impelled into this act, their later participation (e.g., choice of partners, frequency, interpersonal tone) is mostly a matter of personal interest. Bachelors tend to engage regularly in homosexual fellatio. They seem (impressionistically) excited by it, joking among themselves about especially attractive boys whom they prefer as fellators, but are often willing or wanting to have sex with any appropriate. Last, most youths continue homosexual practices for as long as they can do so (until their wives' menarche or first birth), having bisexual relationships for a time, whereupon those same men prefer coitus once they have made the transition to heterosexuality" (Herdt, 1981: 282)

"Semen is the substance closest to breast milk, and it provides the next sort of ('biological') push that boys require. Elders reiterate that boys should ingest semen every night, as if it were breast milk or food" (Herdt, 1981: 235).

"...the 'equation' concerns white 'milk-looking' substances treated as food (nu), i.e., milk food solids (aamoonaalyu nu-tokeno). Both iku 'milk saps' (i-aamoonaalyu) and pandanus nuts (kunaal-aamoonaalyu) are treated culturally, in ritual and in secular context, as mother's milk (aamoonaalyu). In terms of this cultural category only one other substance - semen - is treated as a precise equivalent or classed together with mother's milk" (Herdt, 1981: 110).

Reisner, Andrew (1994). The draining fantasy in male schizophrenics and in normal Sambia Males. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 11(1), 63-75.

"Is it mere coincidence that some schizophrenic males associate semen with milk, and they fear being 'drained' of this 'semen/milk' during sexual intercourse, while across the globe, among the Sambia in New Guinea, men are apprehensive about being depleted of their 'limited supply' of semen, which they equate with mother's milk? Unlike Sullivan (1954) who suggested that schizophrenics are not 'strartlingly different from anybody else' (p. 206), many would prefer to complete dichotomize that which is 'schizophrenic' and that which is 'normal'" (Reisner, 1994: 63).

Semen 'Cults' in Melanesia - Gilbert Herdt
A Profound Ignorance of Human Sexuality

Visitor Numbers


Get a Search Engine For Your Web Site

Search This Site Via Google:

This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

To the Home Page for this Web Site: GB Suicide Problems.