I'm not an anthropologist, but I'm struck by the fact that so many "primitive" societies have what are loosely called "manhood ceremonies." They generally test one's endurance and often involve pain and even mutilation or disfigurement.

It's an interesting behavior because 1) it doesn't appear to be practiced by other species (that I'm aware of), and 2) it generally isn't practiced in modern society.

Is there a term for this type of behavior, and are there any theories to explain its origin? I suppose one could just argue that it's simply designed to separate the wheat from the chaff, enabling groups to select their best hunters, warriors, etc. I just wondered what else has been learned or theorized about manhood ceremonies.

  • $\begingroup$ The jewish community still celebrates a manhood ceremony if I'm correct: The Bar Mitzvah. Although I don't believe it is associated with pain and mutilation ;) $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Aug 7 '17 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ It would be interesting to know if there's a term for those kinds of ceremonies - "coming of age rites"? $\endgroup$ – David Blomstrom Aug 7 '17 at 14:27
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it´s a question about anthropology without clear function in relation with psychology. $\endgroup$ – hexadecimal Aug 8 '17 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ You can read about this in almost any book of general issues of anthropology. In the "modern society" these rituals do not occur because surely other situations fulfill these functions, but that corresponds to the anthropology. $\endgroup$ – hexadecimal Aug 8 '17 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ Coming of age rituals serve a psychological purpose. A child is reprogrammed into an adult with a cultural role and its responsibilities. That's basic brainwashing. $\endgroup$ – Ralph Crown Aug 10 '17 at 1:34

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.