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Sigmund Freud - "civilization and Its Discontents"

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Sigmund Freud - "civilization and Its Discontents"

The question of living in integrity and obedience is the main concept leading societies towards promising future. Sigmund Freud's "Civilization and its discontents", for many scholars seem to be one of the best psychoanalytic works, among the famous and widespread theories of obtaining civilization. He argues that human nature acts aggressively towards each other, thus, aggression cessation appeared to be the key solution for this problem. In this essay, I will summarize some main points of the given quote; relate them to author's larger arguments and state personal opinion.

According to Freud, civilization is the state where every its participant lives in integrity and obedience with others. Family, which on the one hand is the perfect example of small civilized society, can maintain its integrity through the sense of guilt. The sense of guilt, then, arises from the continuous internal struggle between the love and aggression of an individual towards habitats, but mainly towards father who is recognized as an authority. Specifically, individual or child, at the same time, fears to lose father's love, for not to be punished, and feels hatred of father for setting harsh disciplines upon him. So as the community enlarges, where it's inevitable to avoid interacting with huge number of people, the sense of guilt will strengthen and increase further with much stronger internal struggle, where discipline is replaced with laws and regulations of social life. For some individuals this situation gets hard and stressful to cope. Therefore, civilization has its discontents from the perspective of individuals even though this sacrifice results in the formation of peaceful society (Freud, p.128).

The sense of guilt is a key factor in disarming and resisting one's aggression. Those actions which can guarantee the loss of authority's love cause the sense of guilt. Thus, individuals act so that authority will not recognize the performed evil action; consequently, they are discharged from being guilty. In contrast, if the authority is internalized in the form of super-ego – the portion of the individual's ego which acts as conscience by redirecting the aggression, which individual wanted to channel towards others, towards himself – no difference between the bad intention and action to commit unacceptable deed remains, thus in both occasions the sense of guilt is present. This explains that super ego controls every thought and desire of the ego and looks for appropriate opportunities to punish it. Therefore, individual feels great tension between super-ego and ego which leads to internal struggle of both love and aggression.

Freud, additionally, debates on that does conscience causes renunciation of aggression or vice versa. He explains that both of these hypotheses come together by giving an example of Oedipus complex, where the first emergence of the sense of guilt took place. He suggests that brothers killed their father in order to satisfy their aggression and hatred against him. But he also states that brothers loved him too, since it was expressed by the sense of remorse after crime being committed. Then, they set their super-ego by internalizing father as authority, every intention for further aggression reinforced it and the sense of guilt also stopped them from repeating this deed. Therefore, this ambivalence between struggles was the fundamental source of the sense of guilt which proves that both instinctual renunciation and anxiety operates together instead of triggering one another. The same as a child, who needs father's love but feels hatred against him due to the enforced severe discipline, experiences conflict, which may persistently exist in an environment where people are obliged to live together. Furthermore its worth to point,

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