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Civilization and its discontents

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When Freud talks about the individual, he says that there is nothing that we re more convinced than of the feeling of our own self (Freud, 1961), and we aim to please our Ego, in order to feel happy. He explains that since infants, we are unaware of the object as an external to us, so, when the object is gone, we feel unpleased and this brings discomfort or even pain, so we strive to get rid of them, but, as the object comes from the external world, we have to face for the first time with the Reality Principle.

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Throughout our lives the human being struggles for happiness, according to Freud, as our Pleasure Principle demands, but in that pursuit of happiness we ill have disappointment coming from three different directions: Our own body, the external world and, the most painful one, our relations to other people. In order to avoid this suffering, the individual can isolate himself from the others, join a human community, or use intoxicating chemicals.

Although the most employed methods of avoiding displeasure are the defense mechanisms; Freud describes in his book the Displacement, conceptualizing it as the one whose task is “shifting the instinctual aims In such a way that they cannot come up against frustration from the external world” (Freud, 1961, p. 79).

When Freud talks about civilization and its direct relation to the individual, he acknowledges that a person can turn into neurotic once he feels it is impossible to tolerate the frustration coming from the society he lives in, and only by avoiding this pressure, the human being can find happiness. But happiness as Freud, himself exposes, is not the same for everyone, it depends on each individual and the way he relates to others.

So, love and its types, come along, Freud explains that sexual love is the One relating to strong experiences of satisfaction and genital eroticism, it is often directed to he loved-object, but when this object rejects him or it is lost either by unfaithfulness or death, then, suffering comes along. But Freud talks about love in a more global term, there is the love between a man and a woman, which would be genital love, the love between parents and their children, and love between siblings would relate to love with an inhibited aim, this type works also for creating new bonds with strangers, in society.

Going back to a paragraph written in an earlier chapter, Freud raised a question “How has it happened that so many people have come to take up his strange attitude of hostility to civilization? ‘ (Freud, 1961, p. 87). He explains how civilization demands too much from each individual and practically it is opposed to men’s aims, as in, human being’s goals are that of his pleasure principle, while the civilization restricts this, by censorship.

The survival instinct, most known as Eros, is what moves all this relations either the goals of the individual, or the aims of the society for the preservation of the species, although, Freud presents another instinct, this, he says, is one of Aggressiveness and Destructiveness, the Death Instinct, calling it the primitive en, which comes naturally with the individual, except for the mother in relation to her male child. This death instinct as opposed to Eros, explains the author, constitutes the greatest impediment to civilization, since, the latter acts in the service of Eros, in the purpose of mankind and its unity.

Freud gives an ending to this book with the introduction of the Super-Ego and the sense Of guilt. The Super-Ego comes from: the renunciation of the ego to an instinct, due to a fear of aggression coming from the external world, as in an authority, and then this authority becomes internal, because of the fear of omniscience, so the Sense of Guilt arises, alongside a need for punishment; this Sense of guilt is related to the Oedipus Complex.

It is easy to recognize that Freud has a more pessimistic view of the world in this writing; Peter Gay considers Civilization and its Discontents as “Fraud’s most somber book, and also in some respects his most insecure” (Gay, 2006, p. 543), Gay explains how Freud, himself, accepts his lack of enjoyment of those days, complaining even about his own patients, and the lack of empathy he had with them, but what was happening in Fraud’s mind at that mime, to alter him in such a way?

It is known that the First World War ;The Great War” had happened a few years before the realization of this work, and it is of general knowledge the devastating consequences of it on people’s lives, and, although, Gay recognizes, the war was kind of beneficial for Freud, in terms that there were more patients coming to his office, he also felt lonely. There were many events happening around Fraud’s life, beginning with the Great War, the death of his daughter Sophie, around 1920, which, as Gay exposed, Was a great shock for him and his family and they could never Lully recover from this loss. Gay, 2006) It is not a secret that Freud was contrary to any type of religion, in fact, like Xvi Laotian exposes in his article, Freud considered himself as an atheist, and that God was “an illusion invented by religion” (Laotian, 2012, p. 536), and that flourishes once again in Civilization and its Discontents. When he speaks about religion, Freud considers it as the first or principal guilty entity of hostility between the societies, considering an article written at the New York Times, by Lee Siegel, who censures Fraud’s work by calling it as contradictory, et at the same time, very critical to the religion. (Siegel, 2005).

Fraud’s work has come to be, through all these years, if not the most important, at least one of the most remarkable, influential and transcendental psychoanalytical theories and, although, Civilization and its Discontents is a book that reflects a negative point of view of the culture and of the individual, as Barry Shapiro recalls, Freud positioned individuals as savage, aggressive beings (Shapiro, 201 2), the book is also very relevant for this modern times, considering that wars, terrorism and aggressiveness are resent in our daily lives; Fraud’s theory is, according to my opinion one acceptable approach of the society malaise.

We can consider the fact that Happiness is our ultimate goal, as Freud presented in his book, and it is also true, that this happiness is difficult to experience (Freud, 1 961 we can blame this to the Pleasure Principle, set up in every human being, but we can also put the blame on our societies; when say this, think about the lack of security and tranquility around the world, since cultures try so hard to set up standard models of persons, stating tatty measures, or the conflicts between people from a same religion or society.

Our modern world has not changed much since 1930, in the matters that Freud had stated and in my opinion, not much will vary in the next thousand years, given the fact that the individual is passionate, and we will always be looking for our happiness, but we keep forgetting that a total happiness will never be possible to achieve. References Freud, S. , (1961 The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud: The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and its Discontents. 3rd Edition De. London: The Hogwash Press. Gay, P. , (2006).

Cite this Civilization and its discontents

Civilization and its discontents. (2017, Jul 19). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/civilization-and-its-discontents-42132/

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