Sigmund Freud also known as, “the
father of psychoanalysis”, was a great thinker, and his works still hold some relevance
in this day and age. His essay, “Civilization and its Discontents” 1930,
written against the backdrop of First World War unfolds the social, political
and psychological conflicts of modern human civilization by graceful assimilation
of his former theories of Oedipal complex, sexual instincts, model of psyche, death
drive, etc.. Freud paints the picture of modern civilization using his
experience of individual neurosis, thus uses a unique method of understanding
the group dynamics by using the knowledge of individual psyche.

          Freud wrote “Civilization and its
Discontents” 1930 (original German title, “Das Unbehagen in der Kuture”) in
the late 1920s in Vienna, Austria and was published in 1930. Freud does an
outstanding job as an essayist and provides a first person socio-psychological view
of modern civilization that makes for an engaging read. The early chapters (1-5)
of this essay are a gradual build up towards the most crucial point in chapter
6 where he argues that the cultural function of guilt is irrational, and it is
the main cause of unhappiness among humans as the fundamental instincts are
oppressed through guilt conscience. 
Freud claims that, “the sense of guilt as the most important problem in
the development of civilization and shows that the price we pay for our advance
in civilization is a loss of happiness through the heightening of the sense of
guilt” (Freud 763). Freud believes that individuals are suffering the
compounding effect of guilt from early childhood as it is internalized in them
through conscience or “superego”. The harm of guilt is such that one may
develop social anxiety or some form of psychological neurosis. He is critical
of organised religion and holds it responsible for developing the sense of
guilt, and dictating the behaviour of majority of population by showing them
the simple path of stress free life. Therefore stating that religion is nothing
but a mass illusion supported by social agreements. 

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