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Sigmund Freud`s `Civilization and its Discontents`

Sigmund Freud ‘s Civilization and its Discontents was originally published in 1930 , with a second edition in 1931 . At this time Freud was suffering from inoperable cancer and Adolf Hitler ‘s Nazi Party came into power . This depressing state of affairs was the backdrop for what has been called Freud ‘s “disillusioned look at modern civilization on the verge of catastrophe (Gay , Peter : “Freud : A Brief Life , Freud ,xxii .Freud ‘s Civilization condensed his theories regarding the complexities of the relationship between modern civilization and the individual . He describes the driving forces of the individual , with emphasis on aggression , guilt and remorse . Those driving forces , and instinct , will be in conflict with the value system of a larger society , particularly in reference to religion and communism . Freud has given the reader his unique perspective on a rapidly changing world through the eyes of a psychoanalyst ‘s interest and knowledge of the individual as both creator and subject of his society and culture . Whether the reader is in agreement or not , Freud ‘s discourse in Civilization and its Discontents is a timeless and extremely thought-provoking work . Freud begins his treatise with reference to the reality principle , to “differentiate between what is internal – what belongs to the ego – and what is external – what emanates from the outer world (Freud , 15 . He does this with reference to what has been referred to as an “oceanic feeling ‘ and “oneness with the universe (21 . As with his earlier work , the role of religion becomes a key factor , and he believes that in a sense , it is a protection for the individual against reality . Freud believes the individual creates a “wish ‘ to “correct some aspect of the world which is unbearable (32 . Further , when a great many people indulge in this “delusional ‘ behavior , this “remoulding of reality ‘becomes that “the religions of mankind must be classed among the mass-delusions of this kind (32 . Freud skillfully avoids any need for argument or rebuttal , since “no one , needless to say , who shares a delusion recognizes it as such (32 . Freud believes that the communist revolutionary theory is bound to fail . On first glance it appears he is clearly in step with Karl Marx ‘often quoted “opium of the people ‘ attitude towards religion However ,behind Marx ‘s timeless quote lies his belief of religions in an economic context , and part of the overall misappropriation of wealth . The revolutionary concept of the abolition of private property is what Freud believes to be the major failing of the communist program . “The communists believe they have found the path to deliverance from our evils .the institution of private property has corrupted (man ‘s )nature (70 . Freud ‘s concept is that “ (i )n abolishing private property we deprive the human love of aggression of one of its instruments (71 . Freud does not offer an alternative to Marxist revolutionary thought . Interestingly , Freud disingenuously spares capitalism from criticism . In discussing the possible perils and collision of individual instincts with group identification and individual leadership…

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