Sigmund Freud


Freud, Sigmund. 1930. "Civilization and the Individual" (Lemert pp. 149-151)

"The fateful question for the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent their cultural development will succeed in mastering the disturbance to their communal life by the human instinct of aggression and self-destruction. Men have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that with their help they would have no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man. They know this, and hence comes a large part of their current unrest, their unhappiness and their mood of anxiety. And now it is to be expected that the other of the two 'Heavenly Powers'… eternal Eros, will make an effort to reassert himself in the struggle with his equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result?" (p.145 in original)



  1. Analogy between development of individual and development of society. "Cultural development of the group and cultural development of the individual…." Some aspects of super-ego easier to see in society than in individuals.
  2. In therapy we note that super-ego often ignores needs of id and/or dictates of reality (150.5). Society, the cultural superego, can also make unreasonable demands.
  3. If there is a proper analogy,

is there any sense in which a society or civilization can be neurotic?

Things We Notice

  1. The long Germanic paragraphs and sentences, of course.
  2. Does Freud's cultural super-ego remind us of Hobbes' Leviathan?
  3. A bit of commentary about socialism (150.8) worth revisiting.
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