Civilisation and Its Discontents – Sigmund Freud

Everyone has heard of Freud, but how many people have ever read his work? I never had until now, despite doing a philosophy course at school. This is one of his most important texts, an book on psychology, and the differences between society and individuality.  He writes about humans needing to feel a sense of freedom whilst society tells us to conform to the rules that have been set.


I do not have an amazing grasp of psychology or philosophy, this is partly why I try to read about it, yet I feel this is one of the easier texts to read. Understanding it properly is the real challenge. Freud’s book asserts that humans are naturally inclined towards certain acts, which are then forbidden by laws set by society. For example, we seek sexual gratification, yet rape and adultery are forbidden. In no way does he justify these acts, he is just stating that humanity is naturally inclined towards such acts through out sexual needs. He also discusses violence, especially towards those in authority, humans are naturally indisposed to commit violent acts yet we control ourselves in order to not enact our feelings.

Throughout this work Freud discusses various ideas, most of which seem to be influenced by the First World War. The war was probably the biggest example of humans as a group fighting for a cause despite maybe not personally believing in it. I feel like I need to re-read to gain more understanding, but as a text it is very interesting, and I have definitely taken in some of Freud’s ideas. I’m going to start steering away from this kind of non-fiction text in for the next few books I read, mostly to give my brain a rest.


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