Her graphic characterisation of these negative part-objects also coincides to a striking degree with the threatening image of the MAMU: 'the child conceives of them [negative part-objects] as actually dangerous--persecutors who it fears will devour it, scoop out the inside of its body, cut it to pieces, poison it'.
Nowadays, people cannot see the MAMU with their own eyes anymore.
Certainly the MAMU has not disappeared from the imagination of even adults, and although most grown-ups would laugh at the suggestion of it being 'real' and have assured me that it is only a story with which to prevent children from running into the bush at night, it may take hold of a person in a fearful and dangerous situation.
Obviously, the long teeth of the MAMU and the dog's fangs are equivalent.
But apart from appearing as attackers or seducers believed to be MAMU, dogs are also kept as guardians against evil spirits that might kill a sleeping person during the night (Peile, 1997:115).
Roheim (1933) has described the MAMU as it appears in the dreams of Central Australian women (in the 1920s) as both healer and destroyer.
In Mountford's (1976:571) ethnography, the association with a dead person's spirit is explained by the belief that 'a disembodied spirit soon becomes a mamu, who is a danger to everyone, young or old.' It is the task of the NGANGKARI to prevent this transformation and to catch the spirit of a deceased from the grave.
Although my informants emphasised that the MAMU is ugly-looking and vicious and not the same as a person's spirit, KURUNPA, (16) the potential conjunction or actual collision of the two expresses the experience of the self as 'the child in every man with its body destruction phantasies'.
A person, having aroused the anger of another, may be scathingly called MAMU, as I witnessed numerous times in the context of fights, especially in cases of violent arguments between mother and daughter.
It is not difficult to see the figure of the MAMU as facilitating the child's projection of the bad aspects with which it identifies in order to 'protect the good mother from himself'.
Most conspicuous in the children's investigations of their environment, which they pursue in sex-separate groups starting from age of seven or eight, is the regular evocation of MAMU. Recuperating from a swim in a waterhole, 'the older boys are likely to vie with one another to see who can tell the most frightening story about a mamu or a tjangara (a mythical giant creature that eats human flesh).' (Tod Woenne, 1973:68) Later in the day, a 'game of hide-and-seek develops, in which the younger boys are again submitted to the jest that they are hiding from a flock of ravishing mamu who are out for their hides.' And, examining various tracks in the sand, a very young boy may remark what a funny animal must have made those semi-circular drag marks around that clump of spinifex.
I discussed earlier that adults use the MAMU to evoke fear in children that should keep them at bay and prevent them from venturing into areas--both geographical and social--beyond the protective eyes of adults.