Civilization and its Discontents: a discussion with Freud - Essay Example

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This is a discussion between a student, Tom, and Freud on Freud’s book Civilization and its Discontents. At individual level most of us traditionally internalize our sense of aggression against ourselves by using our superego to hold the ego in check…
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Civilization and its Discontents: a discussion with Freud
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Civilization and its Discontents: a discussion with Freud This is a discussion between a Tom, and Freud on Freud’s book Civilization and its Discontents.
Tom: Sir, What did prompt you to write your book Civilization and its Discontents?
Freud: The World War 1 events and reign of terror which was unleashed in it by actors of the war mostly influenced my deliberations in this book. This book is in a way extension of my earlier works like Beyond the Pleasure Principle and The Future of an Illusion, so on and so forth. I had made use of concepts like Super-ego, Ego, Id, Totem and Taboo, Eros and death instinct, which appeared in my earlier works, to explain the domain of civilizations (wikipedia).
Tom: Sir, some people say that your pessimism about the human being and human nature is at its peak in this book. Why is it so?
Freud: Yes, this notion to a large extent is true. My pessimism about human beings and their nature is not unfounded; the atrocities committed in World War 1, World War 2, Nazis’ massacre in Holocaust, atomic bombs attacks on Japanese cities, Stalin reign of terror to strengthen the Revolution, Saddam’s killings of his masses, 9/11 act of terrorists, Americans atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan and Musharaf‘s war on terrorism all attest to my deliberations in this book about human nature.
Tom: Sir, you believe that destructive forces are present in all individuals, and thus man by nature, is an essentially anti-social and anti-cultural being as you wrote in your book, "(aggression is) an original self-subsisting instinctual disposition in man . . . the greatest impediment to civilization”. Would you please explain this postulate having in view the present state of American culture and society?
Freud: This passage refers to basic human nature; man born with such instincts and drives which compel him/her to be aggressive. This natural tendency in human beings is not only manifested in individuals and groups but also expressed at society and state level; let me say in the present clash of civilization scenario it is a glaring reality that different civilizations of the world are at daggers drawn against each other.
At individual level most of us traditionally internalize our sense of aggression against ourselves by using our superego to hold the ego in check. While we all struggle with many forms of aggression, including anger at ourselves and amongst ourselves, few of us are ever likely to become violent. Mild bickering and other tempests in tea pots are the usual expressions of our anger. However, we all learn hatred even if we never externalize it outwardly.
The most violent individuals do not seem to have a superego that works to keep their ego in check, but their superego strength gets expressed externally onto other individuals, groups, institutions, or even countries. Moving to the most horrific types of aggression once this superego has gone external, it will encompass acts of murder on a variety of fronts such as manslaughter, third, second and first degree murder; Serial killing; mass murder, suicide bombing, so on and so forth.
In your country, America, Timothy McVeigh blowing up a Federal building in Oklahoma City was an act of aggression against government for he was afraid that the government of the United States would take over the lives of all; in his paranoia and delusions of grandeur, he tried to strike back at the government that he saw as so dangerous (Charlotte A. F).
What crime gangs commit acts of murders and looting and plundering are yet another manifestation of human aggressive nature; Alqaeda attacks of 9/11 were another example of groups’ aggressive disposition.
At state level, aggressiveness finds its display in the shape of attacks by powerful states on weaker ones as American forces made attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan in the recent past.
Human aggressive instincts depiction can also be found in horror movies, novels, children computer games being produced at large scale in America now-a-days.
Tom: Sir, you state in your book that technological progress has failed to make humans happier. I strongly disagree to this opinion as I believe that today’s technological progress has made our lives more efficient and interesting, and thus more happy. What do you say in this regard?
Freud: If the phenomena like production of weapons of mass destruction, atomic and biological weapons and depleting of precious natural resources and ever-increasing spoiling of Ozone layer and consequent global warming, so on and so forth, are the fruits of technological progress which are making human lives more happier than making miserable then you are right.
Tom: Thank you sir, I had a valuable discussion on your treatise Civilization and its Discontents.
Freud: thanks you too
Charlotte Ann Frick. “The Mythos of Terrorism through the Prism of Sigmund Freuds Civilization and Its Discontents”. (date of creation not given). CUNY Graduate School.Jan30, 2008.. .:Grade Saver”. Date of creation not given. GradeSaver LLC. Jan 30,2008.. .“Civilization and Its Discontents”. last update Dec 27,2007. The free encyclopedia Wikimedia Foundation, Inc..Jan 30,2008. . Read More
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