Sigmund Freud in Civilization and Its Discontents Essay

According to Sigmund Freud in Civilization and its Discontents the main function of society is to restrain our sexual aggressive impulses. These aggressive impulses are controlled through the super-ego, which is often referred to as our body’s “watchdog. ” The super-ego regulates these impulses of the ego in the form of a “conscience” which imposes a sense of guilt and need for self-punishment. Freud goes even further by saying that our culture, in order to maintain order and stability, reinforces two sources of guilt. The first is the fear of authority and the second is the fear of the super-ego.

Freud believed that humans were driven by this force called, Eros. Eros was defined as being an individual’s lust instincts, passion drives, and unfulfilled sexual instincts. Freud believed that humans are guilty because they don’t get to play or they don’t get what they want. Freud firmly believed that civilization and culture was a bad thing. It held individuals back from their deep-innermost feelings. Civilization was just a cope out, and was made by human’s beings that couldn’t behave and control their own selves; civilization struggled with the Eros.

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Freud not only believed that humans have this Eros life-favoring instinct but that they also have this Thanatos, death instinct. Similarly Freud believed that both instincts complimented each other. There are times, though, when humans need to act aggressively on the world, this would act as the Eros instinct and then the Thanatos instinct would preside over these aggressive and risky endeavors. In Greek mythology “Thanatos” was the god of a non-violent death. The oedipal complex was another term that Freud strongly believed in.

This was the idea that described a little boys desire for his mother and jealously and anger towards his father. The boy feels like he is in competition with his father for possession of his mother. He views his father as a rival for his mother’s affection. In order to develop into a successful adult the child must identify with the same-sex parent in order to resolve the conflict. Freud suggests that while the id wants to eliminate the father, the more convincing ego knows that the father is much stronger.

In conclusion Freud rejected civilization and said it was very unnatural but necessary; society was a bad thing. In the Western Civilization the Greeks seemed to be the most civilized. They were never peaceful and shaped themselves with qualities such as individuality, war-like, and were afraid. The Greeks were never sure what was going to happen next, they were afraid of the unknown, but they always kept moving forward. Freud mentioned that even today we still carry around baggage from the Greeks.

Freud states that we were born as animals and that the Greeks were inhibition. On the other hand the Greeks were good in math, architecture, farmers, fishermen, and were overall healthy. The Greeks did have one downfall; even though they would win battles they would also lose battles very badly. The Greeks loved war and would keep up with even the Spartan army who basically trained their whole lives. Lastly the Greeks were said to be the “physique of the gods,” meaning whatever they did was right; even Freud says we still carry around their baggage today.

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