Essay on Civilization And Its Discontents By Sigmund Freud

Essay on Civilization And Its Discontents By Sigmund Freud

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Civilization and Its Discontents
Sigmund Freud is known for his theories and works in the field of psychology, mainly, the subject of psychoanalysis. Nonetheless, some of his works became important in other social science fields such as his work entitled “Civilization and its Discontents,” which had a significant contribution in other fields like political theory, sociology, and anthropology. This contribution is mainly because of the ideas invoked by the book with regard to the permanent conflict between the individual and the social institutions that surround him. Through his psychoanalytic perspective, Freud presents another view of understanding human and social institutions by looking at the nature of humans through the structural theory of the human mind. In other words, Freud is mainly concerned on the interplay of the demands of human instinct and the restrictions imposed by the civilization or the social institutions upon the people. In particular, the central theme of Civilization and Its Discontents revolves around the concept of happiness and how humans seem to seek happiness or contentment as they exist in civilization or in the society.
By using the psychoanalytic perspective, Freud attempts to explain feelings such as that of “being ‘oceanic’” goes back to the concept of ego which is something autonomous and unitary as well as distinct from everything else. In relation to social institutions and the civilization, the ego, according to Freud, “is continued inwards, without any sharp delimitation, into an unconscious mental entity which we designate as the id and for which it serves as a kind of façade.” Hence, it would seem that man would not be satisfied because even the ego in him would have a conflict with himsel...


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...d possibility of happiness. These repressions, according to Freud, would then contribute to the discontentment among the people.
While Civilization and Its Discontents is a breakthrough in terms of understanding society in terms of the discontentment and unhappiness of the people, I would argue and suggest that factors that contribute to repression and discontent in the society should not be seen as a mere cause of neurosis but rather structures that have function in maintain the stability and equilibrium in the society. They should not be seen as mere repressive elements but as features of the civilization that enhances the relationship of man and the culture or the society through conflict and resolution. Thus, when we feel unhappy because of such repressions, man’s rationality should still prevail to turn the tide around towards further happiness and contentment.

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Essay on Civilization And Its Discontents By Sigmund Freud

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