Sigmund Freud on Social Dynamics and Problems

Sigmund Freud gave his views on the social dynamics and problems that existed among the Europeans by late 19th Century. In his effort to study this concept, Freud wrote the book ‘Civilization and its Discontent’ in 1929 where he highlighted some of the issues that came with civilization among the Europeans. However, his thoughts in this book were not total views on the impacts of civilization in the late 19th Century which makes it debatable. When looking the civilization, its main problem was the sense of guilt as civilization came with a feeling of guilt that in most cases result from a loss of happiness as the sense of guilt heightened. In all the problems highlighted by Freud, there are some instances where the sense of guilt rubbished many benefits of that would have come with the development of civilization. However, it can be argued there are still some aspects that come with the civilization that are not affected by an individual’s feeling of guilt. Civilization encourages the well-being of a community as a whole and not just a love relationship (Whitebook, 9). Therefore, there is a need to have a love relationship that minds the welfare of other people in society for there to be a social justice.

Civilization appeared to have taken an enormous toll on the happiness of the Europeans by late 19th Century. When considering the case of obsessive neurotics, the sense of guilt makes itself felt noisily within the minds, but mostly it functions in a more private manner. Freud identified guilt as a type of anxiety and argued this kind of anxiety is behind each symptom, be it consciously or unconsciously generated. Collective level of anxiety within the civilization has risen but remains undiagnosed at a greater level as it manifests in the manner at which people spread vague malaise on other causes. Christianity claims that they can redeem people from the anxiety by using rituals of martyrdom or sacrificial deaths. However, it is worth noting in relation Freud’s views that not every person in a community was religious or a believer, therefore, religion’s intervention would only save the believers, not non-believers.

Freud’s super-ego is an agency that keeps a watch on the actions and intentions of a man’s ego that is the primary source of anxiety. The ego’s preemptions can be detected by the super-ego and prevented before executing any form of a guilty act. The intervention of the super-ego could prevent an individual from being remorseful after the act of aggression resulting from the feeling of anxiety. Freud also claims that thwarted instincts may also lead to an increased sense of guilt. Aggressive instincts can be transformed into a sense of fear. Freud applied his understanding of the symptoms of guilt, which were “in the essence substitutive satisfactions for the unattended sexual desires.” But from the look of things, not every repressed feeling develops itself as a symptom as some specifically transform into a sense of guilt.

Freud’s prior comparison was of the development of civilization and the maturation of libido on individuals. In pleasure principle, which involves finding and attaining happiness, is maintained as the primary aim of a person’s psychological development but when it comes to civilization, individual’s happiness is sacrificed for unity and social cohesion. In a larger community, an individual survives between the extreme ends of egoism and altruism. He needs to survive by his urge to personal happiness and also consider uniting with others within the community forming an internal struggle in his mind. When there is an internal conflict, there is the applicability of ebb and the flow of libido, which is entirely different from the struggle between the death drive and Eros mentioned by Freud. Therefore, Freud gave a view on the impacts of civilization on social dynamics that was correct but not conclusive in nature. For example, by using Christianity to address the problem of anxiety, it will only attend to the believers. He also appears to have overstressed on guilt as the main problem with civilization yet they could be other factors. In as much as civilization is seen as a problem, it has been useful in accommodating other people who felt left out in the old systems.

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