LBST 305

Dr. April Bullock

Sigmund Freud

Assumptions Freud Stuck With:

  1. The premise that there was a mental apparatus within every individual–a mind. This mind was related in some ways to the brain and its physiology but was also in some ways separate from it and thus open to psychological study.
  2. That a large part of the mind is hidden from our direct scrutiny.
  3. That within the mind a form of psychological determinism acts so that it is possible to attribute observable events to some psychological cause.
  4. Finally, Freud remained convinced that abnormal and normal lay on a continuum.

The Seduction Theory–posited that Freud’s hysterical patients were remembering actual childhood sexual abuse. Freud abandoned this idea because it seemed unrealistic.

Psychosexual Development–After his self-analysis Freud developed a model of childhood sexual development. This model challenged current ideas about sexuality by claiming that sexuality existed before puberty and that it was not only aimed at sexual intercourse. Infantile sexuality was labeled "polymorphously perverse" meaning that it was not fixed in either its aim or object. From this state the infants sexuality develops though specific phases of "pregenital organization." In each phase the child’s libido is attached to and finds release through one of the "erotogenic zones"–the mouth, nose, anus, and genitals. Freud titled the phases the oral, the anal, the genital, and the latency phase.

Oedipus Complex–central to Freud’s thinking about psychosexual development. The Oedipus Complex posits that all infants experience sexual desires for their parents. In the case of boys, this desire is for the mother. This desire puts the male child in conflict with his father. The child then develops castration anxiety because he fears punishment from the powerful father. For female children the initial desire is also for the mother. However, once the female child realizes that she does not have a penis she transfers her desire to the father.

Transference–A central part of psychoanalytic method. In transference the patient projects past experiences and people onto the analyst in the present. This is useful as it allows the analyst to expose these machinations of the unconscious and help the patient change permanently. Transference also helps the analyst in the sense that it may make the patient more eager to please the analyst. "Countertransference" was the label Freud gave to the situation in which an analyst projected past experiences or persons onto the patient.

Civilization and Its Discontents is Freud’s answer to one question, why does civilization make us unhappy?

An Outline of Civilization and Its Discontents:

            The Oceanic Feeling–initiates the argument, introduces the "problem" of the origins of religious feelings.

            The Rome Analogy–tries to explain how memory works through the analogy of the preservation of the archaeology of Rome. The problem arises when one tries to imagine a Rome in which every building and statue of each period of Roman history is imagined existing complete and at the same time.

            The Pleasure Principle and the Reality Principle–Freud argues that the only purpose in life people agree upon is to be happy. In its purest form happiness can only be achieved through the pleasure principle (living for the satisfaction of all needs, for pleasure). Unfortunately, the very best sort of happiness can only be had when there is "a sudden satisfaction of needs" that have been pent up for some time. If we satisfy each desire as it arises the happiness in satisfying that desire is lessened. The Reality Principle comes into play when the extreme possibilities for suffering presented by the external world force an individual to consider himself happy because he has escaped suffering. Avoiding suffering becomes the goal.

            Sublimation–a concept that is central to Freud’s overall argument about why civilization makes men unhappy. Some individuals are able to sublimate the energy that comes from desires they cannot fulfill by expending that energy in creating works of art or intellect. But not everyone can do this, we may have enough intelligence to appreciate or find happiness through contemplation of these works but we still will repress most of our desires. Freud is thus not an egalitarian.

            Religion as mass delusion–note that Freud makes his claim that religion is a protective mass delusion in this section where he discusses various forms of happiness. (732) According to Freud, religion is based in the idea that reality is the enemy.

            Three sources of suffering–"the superior power of nature, the feebleness of our own bodies and the inadequacies of the regulations which adjust the mutual relationships of human beings in the family, the state and society." (735)

            If We Have Conquered Nature Why Are We Still Unhappy? Conquering nature creates its own problems. We now suffer from anxieties we did not have before technological advances made them possible. Our social rules have led us to act against the interests of evolution.

            Soap as a Yardstick of Civilization–Freud argues that it would not be ridiculous to measure the level of civilization a society had achieved by how clean and orderly it is. (739) The appreciation of beauty, or beauty as a measure of value is another important aspect of civilization.

            Justice as the first prerequisite for a civilized ordering of social relations–justice demands only that the law applies to each individual, not that the laws reflect the interests of all members of society. There is no ethical dimension to this definition of justice. (741)

            The Individual VS Society–since law must apply to all civilization demands that the freedom of the uncivilized man be regulated and reduced through the rule of law. This problem of the conflict between the desire of an individual for freedom and civilization’s limitation of that freedom may be irreconcilable. (741)

            The Family–the family precedes society. Families were formed at an early stage in the process of human evolution. Families were formed once sexual activity no longer appeared in cycles like those of animals. Once sexual desire was constant males found it desirable to keep females (their sexual objects) around all the time. The female found this arrangement desirable because it protected her children. Communal life could not really start, however, until brothers came together to eliminate the total power of the father. Hence civilization has its origins in love and work (Eros and Ananke, love and necessity). (743)

            Women and Civilization–While women are initially part of the drive to create civilization they soon come into conflict with it. This is because " women represent the interests of family and of sexual life" and hence work to satisfy these demands and distract men from sublimating libidinous desires into the invention and creation of culture. (745)

            The Golden Rule Problem–civilization tries to connect all of its members through libidinal ties. Like the other work of culture this takes away energy from the satisfactions of sexuality and family. It is also unreasonable and forces us to devalue love itself.

            Aggression–Human beings are not only driven by Love, there is also an instinct to aggression. This presents a problem for civilization; my neighbor may be a potential love object or he/she may be a potential attacker. Our innate aggressiveness is the cause of warfare and much social distress. (749) Civilization attempts to mitigate our aggressiveness toward each other through mechanisms such as nationalism (we love our fellow countrymen and hate those who live outside our borders).

            Eros and the Death Instinct–Eros, or Love, works to tie us together, to form families and then larger societies and civilizations. At the same time another powerful instinct, the death instinct, is responsible for our aggressiveness. This death instinct represents the biggest challenge to civilization. (755)

            The Superego–comes into being as the most effective way to control aggression. Essentially, the aggression that was initially directed outside of the self is redirected into the self. A part of the ego separates from the rest to form the superego. Conflict between the ego and superego creates guilt, a need for punishment. The superego is also important in our development because it no longer allows for the renunciation of a wish–you can’t hide any thought from it, simply not acting on a wish isn’t enough to keep the superego from punishing the ego.

            Guilt–Freud’s final answer to why civilization makes us unhappy is that it creates and increases guilt.