Sigmund Freud's Theories Of Civilization

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Throughout his works, Freud emphasizes the power that civilization has in shaping an individual, the self. Though civilization’s ultimate goal as system is to help sustain human life, it requires control over the population in order to achieve this, and consequently causes suffering within society on a variety of levels. Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis aim to alleviate this suffering in order to allow individuals to sustainably function within society. Ultimately, Freud examines the current unsustainable relationship between the self and civilization, looking at how the two are mutually reinforced, defined, and shaped, and provides an alternative for individuals to exist within it. In Freud’s view, civilization as a system first and foremost …show more content…
In Freud’s view, the Id is the unconscious part of the mind that stores human instincts and drives, the Super-ego is the part of the mind that is self-critical and comprised of learned social, moral, and ethical values, and the Ego is the part of the mind that mediates between the Id and the Super-ego in striving to become an ideal individual in society. Civilization plays a huge role in shaping the process of repression within the Super-ego, as it creates the principles stored within it. He notes that “nothing can be hidden from the Super-ego, not even thoughts” (Freud, 1930, 86), though what is accessible to the Super-ego may be in the unconscious. Penetration into the unconscious is important for civilization in order to continue to control individuals within it. He uses the concept of sexuality to demonstrate this, confining the term “to a restricted sexual life, which serves the purpose of reproduction and is described as normal” (Freud, 1916-17, 396). He uses this as a means of control and uniformity among the population, and that anything that falls outside of this is perverse. He believes that “these people fall ill…because of frustration, when reality prevents them from satisfying their sexual wishes” (Freud, 1916-17, 371). This reality is not what is truly reflected in the world around them, but the …show more content…
Freud recognizes that this can be achieved by identifying the source of repression, and then removing the resistance. Freud proves this in the case of Anna O., a patient who was “permanently removed” of her symptoms once she was able to identify and voice their origin (Freud, 1895, 35). He shows this also with his theories of dreams and his analysis of the contents of dreams, as a way of reaching the broader public and not just those affected by neuroses. He says that “no greater threat to civilization could arise than if the sexual instincts were to be liberated and returned to their original aims” (Freud, 1916-17, 27), but does not suggest that this is the approach required in order to relieve suffering. Instead, he believes that retailing critical faculty during psychoanalysis can result in self correction – that if an individual can get past resistance, they “recover…insight and understanding” (Freud, 1916-17, 363) in order to analyze the self. Individuals within civilization cannot be innately happy because they need to self regulate and repress. By giving the self control over aspects within the mind that an individual may not have control or knowledge about, they can begin to become free. Happiness can come from knowing the self better, through recognizing how the mind processes and

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