Sigmund Freud in Civilization and Its Discontents

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Joelle Cancelliere 10/20/12

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. 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...
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