Normality – Freidism Applied To Whole Nation Essay, Research Paper
we have organic disease versus the symptom complex of neurosis with no physical determinants, but rather we must look for
the underlying conflicts ascertained by “talking through” psychotherapy. How do you apply this to a collectivity like a nation?
Is there a national character in which invariably a nation follows a pre-selected pattern of inherited behavior? For instance, are
the Germans warlike, the Russians passive, and the Americans beneficent?
2. Or must we look to an interdisciplinary approach to assess group dynamics? Does Freud help? While there is a definition
of normality for the individual, there is no such standard in judging nation-states or even various cultures. Ethnology is the study
of different cultures and how their moralities develop.
He talks about the structural foundation of the mind–theory of the id, ego, and superego. Then, too, there is the topography of
the mind in the conscious, pre-conscious and perception, and the unconscious. Can we find its physical coordinates? No! We
must infer its existence from uniformity of human behavior. If a symptom can be to cured” by “talking through,” then its cause
might be attributable to unacceptable thoughts–like killing the father by the son to win over his mother. The famous Oedipus
complex. He claims it is a phylogenetic inheritance of the human race. It is the incest taboo. You simply do not sleep with
blood relatives because in-breeding produces undesirable recessive traits and the lack of security. The actual crime produces
remorse; the thought of it guilt and consequent anxiety.
The book’s major themes are the sense of guilt (an internalized conscience of the society and the family’s taboos placed on
erotic instincts) and the death instinct (aggression). Guilt arises from aggression and the shame of it. We feel a sense of guilt
from forbidden deeds committed and also the intent to do these deeds. We internalize the family’s and civilization’s violence in
repressing our instinctual nature and either direct it outwardly or inwardly. Cases of sadism and masochism exhibit this
phenomenon. It often has an erotic component. Sadism and sexuality are derived from the libido wherein in conjunction with
unconscious forces the phenomenon of the death instinct emerges.
Religion emanates from a pervasive, anxious feeling of infantile helplessness. When sublimated, beauty can arise to satisfy the
instinctual appetites for gratification, but still derivative from sexual primacy and energy. Religion stems from the narcissism of
the infantile part of the ego in its necessity to gratify itself, yet acknowledging reality and maintaining an ability to test it. Religion
can only be a mass delusion to provide substitute gratifications in the stead of pleasure and the acting out of aggressive
impulses. Two examples are: Love thy neighbor as thyself; and turn the other cheek to your enemies. Freud believed that it
showed a basic misunderstanding of human nature.
Unhappiness comes from three sources: nature; our feeble bodies; and human relations in state and society. In these groups,
we have character formation and de-formation with repression and sublimation where there is an identification with civilization’s
and the family’s value systems. In the end, the family must submit to the demands of civilization, namely, the work ethic.
Eros and Ananke, or love and necessity, have become the driving forces of civilization, that is, the tension between love and
work which can never be resolved. Again, much unhappiness ensues. If intolerable, you can become neurotic.
The sense of guilt emerges from fear of the superego. The superego takes energy from the id to punish us for our
transgressions in our thought-crimes. Ethics of Christianity and Judaism are too demanding. They ask man to renounce
instincts in the name of abstract values. A renunciation must conform to the sexual economy of the individual–the balance
between pain and pleasure in the group and society must be in equilibrium, but nonetheless it is constantly breaking down.
Neurosis, psychosis, and even a collectivity going berserk in war emerges.
The id can only be controlled so far. It has “hidden” ways to purchase gratification; when frustrated, it will torment the
individual. The individual suffers a double alienation in the family and civilization; hence, he must go through a long training and
educational process to learn his limited place in the universe. He believes that this double alienation serves for the survival of
humankind, although it has within it the mechanism for total self-destruction, namely, the death instinct when it periodically
breaks the equilibrium with its counterpart, the life instinct in Eros, to threaten Homo sapiens with extinction. The aggression
comes from the frustration necessarily entailed in the renunciation of one’s instinctual life. The superego punishes the ego for its
thought-crimes; the ego can crumble, yet will revenge itself on its displaced objects, such as powerless minority groups, and can
be very destructive.
Real threats from institutionalized authority, emanating from its introjection, feeds into the sadistic superego. That superego
already has at work the guilt from the internal Oedipal conflict. Thus, anxiety levels can reach untenable thresholds.
Freud strongly insinuates that traditional religious ethics reflects the values of the weak and the powerless-thus the superego
enhances the will to power necessary to take what you want without retaliation. Thus, the strong dominate the weak, and the
meek do not inherit the earth. Religion serves the function of keeping the people in a delusional state of happiness in which they
anticipate heavenly rewards for all their sacrifices on earth. It is very self-serving of the status quo.
A naturalist ethics is narcissistic instinctually and says you must maximize your pleasure to be happy and healthy; unfortunately,
reality imposes sanctions if certain limits are passed. Conscience is civilization’s “garrison state” internalized. Freud shows the
influence of Nietzsche, in this instance, because he says there are always people pushing the limits to test a system. He gives
the example of Jesus in secular and historical terms of a problematic nature; he was sacrificed in order to keep the social order
stable, whose authority he had radically challenged.
He fits the prototype of Moses and Oedipus. However, if you are to survive, you must conform. The risk-takers are the ones
who are ostracized and punished by civilization; too little repression and there is a state of nature, too much repression and
there is an authoritarian regimen which stifles individuality. Lose/lose strategy for individual and society.
What about natural selection and socialism?
1. Freud says that the renunciation of instincts goes against natural selection; the fittest biologically are persecuted. He was
thinking of those who do not practice monogamous, genital heterosexuality. The “promiscuous” are condemned as outlaws and
amoralists, when in fact they might be the fittest sexually to carry on the species’ struggle for existence. Of course, this value
judgment is civilization’s and necessarily rendered in support of reproducing its generations of an obedient people who take to
the work ethic.
2. He has mixed feelings about socialism. He says that the removal of private, not personal property, would alleviate a stressor
in causing human aggression; nonetheless, sexual desire is primary and there would be no end to conflict even in a communist
society where the ideals are met because the instinctual economy of the individual is fixed within limits by human nature. Thus,
we can remove the external stressor of environmental factors, but the sexual economy and quantum of energy in the instinctual
life would still be repressed as much as ever–ergo, human unhappiness even in utopia. He still will have to be frustrated to
keep the ties of civilization together, whether we call it a free marketplace economy or a commune.