Civilizations and its discontents

Sigmund Freud on the New Psychology Excerpt Chapter 31 When we look at the relation between the process of human civilization and the developmental or educative process of individual human brings, we shall conclude without much hesitation that the two are very similar in nature, if not the very same process applied to different kinds of object. The process of the civilization of the human species is, of course, an abstraction of a higher order than is the development of the individual and it is therefore harder to apprehend in concrete terms, nor should we pursue analogies to an obsessional extreme; but in view of the similarity between the aims of the two processes--in the one case the integration of a separate individual into a human group, and in the other case the creation of a unified group out of many individuals -- we cannot be surprised at the similarity between the means employed and the resultant phenomena. In view of its exceptional importance, we must not long postpone the mention of one feature which distinguishes between the two processes. In the developmental process of the individual, the programme of the pleasure principle, which consists in finding the satisfaction of happiness, is retained as the main aim.

Civilizations and its discontents

This, he says, consists in a peculiar feeling, which he himself is never without, which he finds confirmed by many others, and which he may suppose is present in millions of people. This feeling, he adds, is a purely subjective fact, not an article of faith; it brings with it no assurance of personal immortality, but it is the source of the religious energy which is seized upon by the various Churches and religious systems, directed by them into particular channels, and doubtless also exhausted by them.

One may, he thinks, rightly call oneself religious on the ground of this oceanic feeling alone, even if one rejects every belief and every illusion. The views expressed by the friend whom I so much honour, [FrS2 65] and who himself once praised the magic of illusion in a poem, caused me no small difficulty.

It is not easy to deal scientifically with feelings. One can attempt to describe their physiological signs. Where this is not possible -- and I am afraid that the oceanic feeling too will defy this kind of characterization -- nothing remains but to fall back on the ideational content which is most readily associated with the feeling.

If I have understood my friend rightly, he means the same thing by it as the consolation offered by an original and somewhat eccentric dramatist to his hero who is facing a self-inflicted death.

I may remark that to me this seems something rather in the nature of an intellectual perception, which is not, it is true, without an accompanying feeling-tone, but only such as would be present with any other act of thought of equal range.

From my own experience I could not convince myself of the primary nature of such a feeling. But this gives me no right to deny that it does in fact occur in other people. The only question is whether it is being correctly interpreted and whether it ought to be regarded as the fons et origo of the whole need for religion.

I have nothing to suggest which could have a decisive influence on the solution of this problem. The following line of thought suggests itself.

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Normally, there is nothing of which we are more certain than the feeling of our self, of our own ego. This ego [FrS2 66] appears to us as something autonomous and unitary, marked off distinctly from everything else. But towards the outside, at any rate, the ego seems to maintain clear and sharp lines of demarcation.

There is only one state -- admittedly an unusual state, but not one that can be stigmatized as pathological -- in which it does not do this. At the height of being in love the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away.

Civilizations and its discontents

What can be temporarily done away with by a physiological [i. Pathology has made us acquainted with a great number of states in which the boundary lines between the ego and the external world become uncertain or in which they are actually drawn incorrectly. Thus even the feeling of our own ego is subject to disturbances and the boundaries of the ego are not constant.

It must have gone through a process of development, which cannot, of course, be demonstrated but which admits of being constructed with a fair degree of probability.

An infant at the breast does not as yet [FrS2 67] distinguish his ego from the external world as the source of the sensations flowing in upon him.

Civilizations and its discontents

He gradually learns to do so, in response to various promptings. The boundaries of this primitive pleasure-ego cannot escape rectification through experience. Some of the things that one is unwilling to give up, because they give pleasure, are nevertheless not ego but object; and some sufferings that one seeks to expel turn out to be inseparable from the ego in virtue of their internal origin.

In this way one makes the first step towards the introduction of the reality principle which is to dominate future development.In Civilization and Its Discontents Freud extends and clarifies his analysis of religion; analyzes human unhappiness in contemporary civilization; ratifies the critical importance of the death drive theory; and contemplates the significance of guilt and conscience in everyday life/5(10).

Created Date: 11/20/ PM. In Sigmund Freud published the essay "Civilization and Its Discontents" in the shadow of the terrible carnage of the First World War. But what if he were to walk among us today? Would he wish to recast the powerful five questions he posed 75 years ago--about culture and violence, civilization.

Civilization and its discontents by sigmund freud Essay. Abstract The book Civilization and Its Discontent is one of Sigmund Freud’s most important writings, which was published in , and has widely affected the discipline of Psychology in the academic world.

Sigmund Freud: Civilization and Its Discontents. from Program Two. Distraught by war and personal loss, Freud publishes his views on society's dangers and delusions.

Civilization and Its Discontents is a book by Sigmund Freud. Written in , and first published in German in as Das Unbehagen in der Kultur ("The Uneasiness in Civilization"). It is considered one of Freud's most important and widely read works, and one of the most influential and studied.

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