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The Writings of Sigmund Freud Essay

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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, projection,
defence mechanisms and the unconscious remain dominant. Few of
Freud’s writings touch on matters of direct interest to international
relations but those that do have not only provided compelling
arguments on the origins of war, society and violence but continue to
be of importance. Civilization and Its Discontents [which was itself
an expansion of Freud’s paper Future of an Illusion] and Freud’s brief
correspondence with Albert Einstein on Why War? form the basis for
most of these arguments. Works like Totem and Taboo are more relevant
to sociology and anthropology but are from the same period of study
and so are guides to Freud’s thinking. Freud provides highly complex
and complete explanations not only for human nature and its
predisposition to violence but also for how civilisation monopolises
legitimate violence. He understands, despite the contentions of his
critics, the complex interplay between differing aspects of human
nature and how the community does much to dictate the boundaries of
acceptable behaviour. Most importantly Freud confronts the elements
of human existence which thinking in international relations has
oversimplified, rationalised or avoided since the enlightenment.

Freud’s l...


... middle of paper ...


...ligion, pp.359

[6] Sigmund Freud, Why War?, in Penguin Freud Library Volume 12:
Civilisation, Society and Religion, pp.355

[7] Chris Brown, Understanding International Relations, pp. 113

[8] Chris Brown, Understanding International Relations, pp. 114

[9] Sigmund Freud, Analysis Terminable and Interminable, quoted in
Abraham Drassinower, Freud’s Theory of Culture: Eros, loss and
politics

[10] Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo, pp.100, quoted in David
Stafford-Clark, What Freud Really Said

[11] David Reisman, Individualism Reconsidered, pp.340, quoted in
Benjamin Nelson [ed], Freud and the 20th Century

[12] Christopher Badcock, Essential Freud, pp.148

[13] Sigmund Freud, letter to Lou Andreas-Salome, 1914, Salome
Letters, pp.21, quoted in J.N. Isbister, Freud: An Introduction to his
Life and Work


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