Sigmund Freud Civilization And Its Discontents Essay Examples

Sigmund Freud begins his long essay, Civilization and Its Discontents, by describing his inability to understand what he calls “religious feeling.” Freud is not religious himself, though he has good friends who are. Freud believes that religion is central to how societies function – even societies that no longer consist of orthodox believers. Freud attempts, in his essay, to understand how people relate to their societies, how societies are formed, and how individual psychic forces interact with larger, group-level forces. Freud isolates the individual’s ego, superego, and id – the self, the regulating self, and deep, base desires – as the three forces inherent on the personal level. He wonders how these forces are manifest on the social level.

Freud’s essay moves organically – that is, not in a strict order, but by association of related ideas. Freud wonders how religions function in society, and sees in religion a kind of generous, selfless love – at least, this love as an ideal. Freud wonders whether societies are held together by this selfless love, and by its related religious feeling, but states that these instances of generosity alone cannot constitute a society.

Freud then addresses how human beings come to join themselves to others. They do so, Freud argues, by means of sexual love within family groups. Men and women couple and produce children, and these children have “interrupted” sexual relationships with their parents, which cannot be consummated. These relationships depend both on the love-drive (eros) and the death-drive (thanatos) – a combination of deep, powerful sexual attraction, and a desire, too, to destroy that which is closest and most important to us.

Freud believes that, because societies are groups consisting of smaller groups, the family unit, that societies themselves must behave according to the love- and death-drives. This means that societies are held together both by selfish desires for liberty, on the individual level, and selfless desires for protection and group stability, on the broader social level. Freud believes that other methods of explaining social organization, like the Christian Golden Rule, only explain part of the problem – the group part. Freud’s model accounts also for the individual liberties of society’s members – who wish to both be free to live as they choose, and also desire the help, protection, and love of others.

At the end of the essay, Freud relates his work, indirectly, to the political conditions of the time of its writing. In Europe in the 1930s, the oncoming threat of Communism and Fascism – of different forms of “collective” society – cause Freud to wonder whether civilization is in fact in decline. Freud concludes the essay with an open question: whether societies, like people, can be “neurotic,” or overcome by an excess of anxiety regarding their base impulses to love and destruction.

Schlegel, Chris. "Civilization and Its Discontents Plot Summary." LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 2 Dec 2015. Web. 13 Mar 2018.

Schlegel, Chris. "Civilization and Its Discontents Plot Summary." LitCharts LLC, December 2, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2018. http://www.litcharts.com/lit/civilization-and-its-discontents/summary.

Freud Civilization And Its Discontents Essay

In Civilization and its Discontents Freud asks, "What does man wish for and aim to achieve in life?" The answer that he gives is; "Most immediately men strive to be happy, and their behaviour in the outside world is determined by the pleasure principle." Shortly after this statement he says man realises this is not a possible state of affairs and thereafter accepts and is regulated by the "reality principle" . This book essentially explains why man cannot ever be fully happy in civilized society and will continue to live with underlying anxiety.

In order to fully understand his reasoning why civilization causes discontent for man his argument must be followed from the beginning. Freud postulates two opposing instinctual drives: the libido and the death drive. Within each of these areas are the instinctual drives, contained within the libido the drives that we consider positive, for example love. The death drive contains the drives that society would consider negative, for example aggression. Civilization, Freud contends, is built on harnessing the libido and sublimating the death drives. Harnessing the libido and sublimation of the death drives results in unfulfilled expression and desires within man, therefore the outcome is anxiety and discontentment for man within civilized society. Focusing on Freud's reasoning and how society exerts power over the individual to conform, causing this scarcity of happiness, is what this essay will examine.

Freud outlines three areas in which man will derive suffering and pain, "...the three sources of suffering: the superior power of nature, the frailty of our bodies, and the inadequacy of the institutions that regulate people's relations with one another in the family, the state and society." The first two are unavoidable, he says, but "Our attitude to the third source of suffering, the social source, is different. We refuse to recognise it at all; we cannot see why institutions that we ourselves have created should not protect and benefit us all." This assumption leads him towards the speculation that "...here too an element of unconquered nature may be at work in the background - this time our own psyche."

The concept of psyche and the forces that work within it to promote civilization are also the causes of discontentment within man, this is the crux of his argument. The psyche, Freud proposes, has a particular structure that comprises of three parts: the id, the ego, and the super-ego. The id contains initially our most primitive instinctual desires; here resides the libido and the death drive, while still a child. The ego results after the realisation of the...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

Describe and discuss the Aztec civilization. What factors may have lead to its collapse?

1140 words - 5 pages The Aztec civilization was the name given to the group of different states that dominated central and southern Mexico. These states were allied but ethnically different between the 12th and 16th centuries, around the time of the Spanish invasion.The Heinemann Australian Dictionary (1992) defines the word Aztec as:"a) any of a people inhabiting Mexico between A.D. 1100 and A.D. 1519 (the Spanish Invasion). b) their language, a...

Pleasure and Aggreshion. Related to Freud

1340 words - 5 pages Based on Freud concepts of pleasure and aggression, discuses HayIbn Yaqzan and

The Civilized and the Primitive: Two Contrasting Perspectives

1606 words - 6 pages European writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, permanently captured the cultural attitudes and popular opinions associated with the ideas of civilization and the primitive of their time. The Era of New Imperialism brought culturally polarizing ideas to the forefront of public thought—ideas like the exploitation of primitive peoples for the benefit of civilized Europeans. Several decades later, during the Interwar Period, many ideas...

The Writings of Sigmund Freud

3068 words - 12 pages The Writings of Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud remains a figure whose influence it is hard to over-state. While many of his ideas in the field of depth psychology, a field he largely created, have been compromised and challenged over the course of the 20th century his influence remains palpable. We continue to use terms that Freud originated almost unthinkingly - concepts of frustration, aggression, guilt, anxiety,...

Rejection: It's a Lonely State (Kafka and Freud)

991 words - 4 pages If nobody believed in you, how long would you continue to try before giving up? In the two books I am going to discuss, both authors portray that rejection is a key aspect in how one lives their life. From extreme lows to great heights, the average person experiences a rollercoaster ride of emotion in their everyday life and how they are able to cope with that is determined by the choices they make in life. In

Sigmund Freud

594 words - 2 pages I agree to the following writings of Sigmund Freud: -Civilization and its DiscontentsThe Interpretation of Dreams

Freud vs Marx

1219 words - 5 pages Freud investigates human nature by means of his psychological view of the human mind, in Civilization and Its Discontents. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels offer their view of the human nature and the effects that the economic system and has on it, in The Communist Manifesto. Marx and Engels argue the nature of humans in the framework of the...

The Psychology of Religion

1469 words - 6 pages The Psychology of Religion is composed of a variety of different perspectives, which in certain cases proves difficult in determining both the clinical and pastoral implications of a theory. Modern-day psychology has demonstrated possible beneficial results in religious spiritual individuals, however, much of the current research has avoided questioning the “real” presence of the Divine or a Higher Being. Although a century has passed since his...

Positive Change In World Through Manipulation of Behavior in B.F Skinner's Waldo Two

740 words - 3 pages Positive Change In World Through Manipulation of Behavior in B.F Skinner's Waldo Two      B.F. Skinner, in his novel Walden Two, presents many arguments about how he foresees a positive change in the world through manipulation of behavior on the personal level. Sigmund Freud, in his works, specifically Civilization and Its Discontents, presents his view of human nature and what is innately problematic about it. Both Freud and Skinner...

Sigmund Freud

2101 words - 8 pages “Man is a wolf to man.” These are the words that surprised millions when Freud first opened the discussion of human nature (Freud). Sigmund Freud, born in 1856 and died in 1939, was known to be the father of psychoanalysis (Jones). He lived his whole life trying to reach into the human unconsciousness and unravel the puzzle of life, human personality, and human nature (Chiriac). Sigmund Freud was influenced by the environment post World War I,...

Problems of Civilization and Society

1728 words - 7 pages Throughout human history, man has always encountered problems and seeks to solve it in order to alleviate his own suffering. Pain is one of the pertinent reasoning behind almost all actions taken by humanity as a whole, not dependent on status, class, race, gender, etc. However, as humans, we are also constrained to the society in which we live. We behave the way we do, and react the way we do because society has structured us to do so in that...

0 thoughts on “Sigmund Freud Civilization And Its Discontents Essay Examples”

    -->

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *