Civilization and Its Discontents Summary & Study Guide

 

civilization and its discontents summary

Summary. A brooding book that sounds the death knell for optimistic views on humanity's progress through civilization, Civilization and its Discontents begins with a recapitulation of Freud's disdainful views on religion as a psychological salve and then goes on to challenge enduring platitudes about human society: that civilization has emerged. Civilization and its Discontents is a seminal text in the field of psychology, written by Austrian psychologist (and founder of psychoanalysis) Sigmund Freud, published in The book comprises. LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Civilization and Its Discontents, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


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Civilization and its Discontents spells out Sigmund Freud's somewhat astonishing theory that civilization itself is the main source of unhappiness among civilized people. By inhibiting their natural instincts, civilization drives people into a perpetual state of guilt, causing this unhappiness. Using themes from his earlier work in psychoanalysis, civilization and its discontents summary, Freud examines the source of this guilt and the mechanism by which it controls human instinct.

Freud concludes his book with a suggestion that civilizations and individuals develop in parallel ways, and that just as it is possible for individuals to become neurotic, it may be possible that civilizations can be disturbed in a similar way. Freud begins by referring to an earlier work on the topic of religion and its origin in human civilization.

He addresses a remark made to him by a friend that there is a desire among individuals to feel they belong to a kind of eternal continuum. Freud refers to this as civilization and its discontents summary "oceanic" feeling and approaches it from a psychoanalytic viewpoint.

He concludes that infant children at first do not distinguish between themselves and the external world. Once they do, their ego arises, setting them on the path of development.

This initial feeling, however, may be the source of this "oceanic" impulse toward religion, he concludes. Freud uses this as a departure point to establish the fact that instincts that were present in primal man remain within every individual, even though they have been incorporated, transferred or possibly covered over.

He thus lays the groundwork to discuss civilization in terms of natural instincts and makes the suggestion that the two are linked somehow. Relying on his earlier work in psychoanalysis, Freud enters a discussion of the definition of civilization and what features it has, civilization and its discontents summary.

He then moves to the psychology of the individual members of a civilization, examining their instincts and motives in forming a civilization, as well as the instincts that would seem to harm the survival of civilization.

Freud concludes that in order to join into a civilization, humans are required to suppress many of their natural instincts. This makes them essentially unhappy. They are made to suppress these instincts through guilt, which arises first in the individual as a form of fear of punishment from an external authority, and later is taken up by the individual himself, who creates a conscience that seeks to punish the individual self for its bad thoughts.

The source of this guilt, Freud concludes in the latter part of the book, is an eternal struggle within each individual between an instinct for love and an instinct toward death civilization and its discontents summary destruction. This struggle is inevitable, Freud suggests. By analogy, Freud extends these conflicting instincts to the development of civilization, drawing a parallel with human development.

He does not attempt to judge the value of civilization but ends the civilization and its discontents summary with the hopeful suggestion that civilization may eventually develop past this ultimately destructive stage.

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Civilization and Its Discontents - Wikipedia

 

civilization and its discontents summary

 

CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS By Sigmund Freud (First published in ) Translated from the German by JAMES STRACHEY I I t is impossible to escape the . LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Civilization and Its Discontents, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. Civilization and Its Discontents Summary. Buy Study Guide. In the introductory paragraphs, Freud attempts to understand the spiritual phenomenon of a so-called "oceanic" feeling - the sense of boundlessness and oneness felt between the ego and the outside world. This feeling is "a purely subjective fact, not an article of faith."Author: Sigmund Freud.