Culture and the Merely Instinctive

13 Jun

In analysis of the book malaise da civilization, Freud correctly analyzes what is instinctive to want to dominate the other, in his psychological analysis it is with the id that prevails in childhood and it is possible to demonstrate that every civilizing process somehow deprived the satisfaction of human beings and peoples in some way.

He clarifies at the beginning of his work: “it is difficult to escape the impression that in general people use false measures, that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire those who have them, underestimating the authentic values ​​of life” (Freud , 210, p. 10), clarifying that generalization should be avoided.

Although he initially denies a judgment about religion, in a supposed dialogue of letters with an interlocutor, he describes what “he would like to call the sensation of ‘eternity’, “a feeling of something unlimited, without barriers, as if ‘oceanic’ ‘. It would be a purely subjective fact, not an article of faith; it does not bring any guarantee of personal survival, but it would be the source of religious energy that the different churches and systems of religion take hold of, conduct through certain channels and also dissipate, without a doubt” (idem).

The author makes an anthropological, sociological and, to a certain extent, clinical finding that demonstrates both the constructive and destructive nature of man as a function of life and death drives, written in the period between wars (1918-1939), reveals the effort to prevent impetus hostile to the human species overcame the barrier of civilization’s superego.

Freud thus expressed the fear of war in his time: “[…] human beings have reached such control over the forces of nature that it would not be difficult for them [to] resort to them to exterminate themselves to the last man” (FREUD, 1930, 2010, p. 79), so the systematizer of psychoanalysis seemed to see beyond his time, seeing the limits of horror in our days.

In fact, the civilizational humanizing desire is not specific to this or that religion, but when Christianity calls men and women to be “Salt of the earth and light of the world” it is so that, in addition to the power, the destructive capacity that peoples and nations have, these forces are used for the progress of all humanity and not for a particular group or social vision.

The technologies and vital forces taken from nature cannot serve any purpose other than to provide well-being to the greatest possible number of people, this is the meaning of life and it is based on the salt that gives taste to food and life. light that illuminates the people (the Himalayan salt in the photo).


Freud, Sigmund. (2010) O mal estar na civilização (Civilization and its Discontents) (1930). In: FREUD, Sigmund. Civilization and its Discontents, New Introductory Lectures and Other Texts (1930-1936). Complete works volume 18. Translated by Paulo César de Souza. Brazil, São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.


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