Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024


In Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud begins his essay by describing the inability of society to understand so-called religious feelings. Apart from being non-religious himself, he believed that religion was central to how society functions. In his essays, he tries to understand how societies relate to one another, how individual psychic powers interact, and how within the larger group level formed society.

As three inherent forces at the personal level, the ego, superego, and id move organically. Such organic methods i.e. not in strict order. However, it has an association of ideas. By questioning how Freud’s wondered about the function of religion in society, he saw selfless and generous love in religion. The image of love in religion according to him is an ideal, united by love and by religious feelings and relationships. However, he stated that such an example of generosity alone cannot form a society.

In one such case, Freud discusses how individuals come to associate themselves with others. According to Freud, sexual love in the family group acts as a trigger. Women and men pair up, produce children, and end up having sexual relations with their parents. Although they cannot be perfected, such a relationship always depends on the urge of death and love. The combination of a strong and deep sexual connection destroys what is most important to close to each individual.

Freud’s Cognition

For Freud, society is a group consisting of smaller groups. From the family unit to society, they must behave according to the impulses of death and love. In short, the selfish desire for freedom unites society. At the individual level, selfless desire is present in the stability and protection of the group. At a broader social level, Freud also believed that other methods of explaining social organization only partially explained the problem of group divisions.

Freud’s summary also explains how individual freedoms desire the love, protection, and help of others in society. Each individual is free to live according to their choice. Freud also connected his work, indirectly, with the political conditions at the time of his writing at the end of the essay. Of the various forms of collective society, it causes him to wonder whether civilization was submissive at the time fascism and communism arrived in Europe in the 1930s. He wonders how society can become neurotic.

Does society deal with excessive anxiety on its own when it comes to its basic urges to destroy and love? In Freud’s conception, love is not always related to sex. However, he also believes that sex is a strong component of love. When it comes to individual relationships in love without having sex, they sublimate the desire for sex. They turn sex into a different goal, whether it’s about family attachments or friendships. Controversially, Freud debated the theory implicitly in his essays and elsewhere.

About Sigmund Freud

As the creator of psychoanalytic theory, Freud is also one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century in sociology and psychology. He was born in Austria with his parents in 1856. In 1881, he graduated and became a doctor at the University of Vienna. He also studied the brain, including aphasia and cerebral palsy, before developing methods for treating psychological ailments.

The method he calls healing speech consists of a combination of free association and dream analysis. Intensive questions about the patient’s family relationship also become an important role in his method. In 1886, Freud married Martha Bernays and had six children. After 1896, rumors emerged of Freud having an affair with Martha’s sister, Minna Bernays. On the other hand, Freud’s career progressed, both as a professor and in private practice. By giving birth to ideas about the unconscious and repression, his ideas proved very influential.

Freud’s concepts of the Oedipus complex, anal retention, and the three components of the mind are no less influential than various psychoanalytic theories. In 1983, he fled Austria to escape the Nazis. A year later, he died in England. Although his ideas remained important, many of his students, including Carl Jung, also went on to influential careers in psychology. However, many of their ideas diverged from their former teachers over time. Therefore, they developed their school of thought.

Historical Context

In the years 1914 to 1918, WWI resulted in many casualties in European countries. The savagery and bloodshed indicate that modern humans are capable of for many people, including artists. As well as destroying on a scale previously unimaginable, it also involves 20th-century weaponry. However, it made a 19th-century tactic. Many soldiers walk or ride horses, and fire weapons that take several minutes to reload. In short, war was an anachronism from the start. The only thing modern about it is the senseless loss of life that war causes. In the post-war 1920s, America saw a period of economic expansion taking place.

Despite such an expansion not based on steady gains, a series of financial bubbles inflated the currency. The economy often stems from rapid growth as well as instability. However, Germany was in a period of depression when the bubble collapsed. Under severe punishment by the Allies in the 1930s, the country underwent a transition. Freud wrote precisely about the major social, economic, political, and intellectual transitions of Europe. While thinkers are deeply wondering about the fate of national entities, Freud’s line of questioning is whether civilization survives. At the time, it is neither unemployment nor abstract. However, nature is very urgent but essential.

Death and Sex

In historical context, Freud acknowledged that the death toll in war and in general is one of the most difficult aspects of psychoanalytic theory for people to understand. By nature, humans feel like continuing to live. They want to feel pleasure constantly. However, the urge for death becomes a trigger in humans to be able to destroy objects outside themselves. Simply put, the death drive emerges into the role of a love-hate relationship.

Broadly speaking, humans often want to dominate, defeat, and destroy others. Freud said that the relationship is also actually very general. The death drive, in conclusion, manifests itself in both social and individual terms. So the super-ego causes the individual to suffer greatly. They make love relationships complex. It is because it is associated with pain and possibly more pain if love doesn’t last. In essence, the death drive is part of the superego’s regulatory mechanism.

By trying to control the ego, especially the parts of the self that seek to love, individuals run to have sex with other people. The death drive also causes social groups to assert aggression and domination. Geographically, proximity is often a reflection of social or cultural closeness. In Freud’s system, it is something he calls petty difference narcissism. Freud concluded his essay by arguing that society uses the death drive to create guilt. He only proposed it as a fad for research and not for a provocative answer question.

Artificial Religion

Civilization and its development are wholly bound up in the development of the super-ego. It also has a sense of origin in the ego. Without psychological strength, there would be no society. Without society, there is no psychological power. Freud said that the social and the individual are interrelated. It is also unreasonable to say that religion is good or bad. An individual can only describe such a phenomenon as the result of regulatory forces at play in the human mind. While Freud believed that delusions, beliefs, and religion played an important role in regulation, religion also helped individuals to feel guilty about certain things.

Religion codifies individual guilt in different ways. Guilt will play a role as a means of regulating human actions. The Christian Golden Rule is an example and part of a social and individual moral code. It is because it is a socially beneficial formulation. However, it is not outward if the rules allow the individual to regulate the aggression of society. It leads the aggression into guilt for failing to live toward impossible moral ideals. In a super-ego position, it mimics the kind of system the state wants people to have in managing individual desires to prevent people from killing each other. When it comes to sex with other people, each other will indiscriminately destroy society.

The Nature of Materialism

The relationship between historical materialism and psychoanalysis in Freud’s instinctive determination has always baffled people. However, human instinctive nature must be understood as a manifestation of a social nature. There is a contradiction in which society stands by itself. Given historical materialism, in the end, is rooted in the contradiction between personal appropriation and the social production of surplus-value.

By appearing in the individual, it does not mean acting as a contradiction to its instinctive nature, which is not historical. However, it serves as a contradiction in its social nature and essence. The opening of historical materialism will enable human socialization to be substantially conceptualized by society as a process of humanization. Only formally, Freud’s objections to understanding can only be imagined as conforming to existence. Individual neurosis can also be understood as a societal disease.

The disease acts as a living symptom of a social system. While it is not possible to have a direct historical materialist and psychoanalytic relationship, it does correlate the findings selectively. For psychoanalysis, however, work on its principles is of interest as a confused representation of the unconscious aspects of an individual. In the modern era, people relate different understandings of such a method to each other. It also lacks the answer to the question of what role work has and alienation has in the social causes of neurosis.


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