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Civilization and Its Discontents (International Psycho-Analytical Lib) [Paperback]

Sigmund Freud
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

22 Jan 2011 International Psycho-Analytical Lib
Reprint of the 1930 American edition. In this seminal book, Sigmund Freud enumerates the fundamental tensions between civilization and the individual. The primary friction stems from the individual's quest for instinctual freedom and civilization's contrary demand for conformity and instinctual repression. Many of humankind's primitive instincts (for example, the desire to kill and the insatiable craving for sexual gratification) are clearly harmful to the well-being of a human community. As a result, civilization creates laws that prohibit killing, rape, and adultery, and it implements severe punishments if such commandments are broken. This process, argues Freud, is an inherent quality of civilization that instills perpetual feelings of discontent in its citizens.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Martino Fine Books (22 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891396625
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891396625
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,070,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 in Moravia; between the ages of four and eighty-two his home was in Vienna: in 1938 Hitler's invasion of Austria forced him to seek asylum in London, where he died in the following year.

His career began with several years of brilliant work on the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. He was almost thirty when, after a period of study under Charcot in Paris, his interests first turned to psychology, and another ten years of clinical work in Vienna (at first in collaboration with Breuer, an older colleague) saw the birth of his creation, psychoanalysis. This began simply as a method of treating neurotic patients by investigating their minds, but it quickly grew into an accumulation of knowledge about the workings of the mind in general, whether sick or healthy. Freud was thus able to demonstrate the normal development of the sexual instinct in childhood and, largely on the basis of an examination of dreams, arrived at his fundamental discovery of the unconscious forces that influence our everyday thoughts and actions.

Freud's life was uneventful, but his ideas have shaped not only many specialist disciplines, but the whole intellectual climate of the last half-century.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Original ideas, but lacking evidence and depth 18 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This review regards the Pober Publishing Company-version of the book.

The technical aspects of the book design:
+ The book cover is good-looking.
+ The size & measures of the book are appropriate; the book fits well in the hand.
+ Text size is good.

- There is too much empty space in every page.
More text per page, and fewer pages, would improve this product.

Regarding the content of the book:

*The title is somewhat misleading; this book is not mainly about society and its discontents, but more about the individual, and how he connects to society at large in some aspects.

Freud spends much of the book (maybe 3/5) conversing about common sense ideas and concepts.
E.G. Men are inherently unhappy because of conflicting desires and fears (of nature, himself, parents, etc.) so they bond in societies in an attempt to control nature and create a safe environment. However, the society needs rules to tame our wild impulses, so man feels trapped and has to balance his desires and impulses in fear of punishment.

This is nothing new, and Freud even admits this three (!) times in the book. He even goes so far as to apologize for it. And apologize he should, because even though all this chatter is interesting, he rarely digs deep beneath the surface.

So, when Freud eventually does dig more beneath the surface, there is a split of interesting, and non-interesting (far-fetched/unrealistic) ideas and concepts. This is the reason I am somewhat ambivalent to the book.

Some examples of weird ideas:

1.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very wise about what it really means to be disatissfied and why we secretly need to be 5 Mar 2012
By jafrank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found this really interesting, Freud takes his theories about the psyche and stretches them as far as they can go, asking what, if anything is the mental state of civilization. What its components are, how they interact with each other and what happens when they clash with one another. A lot of these observations seem really obvious, but he approaches them in a way which shows how so much of how we live our day to day lives is based on this weird sense of dissatisfaction with the world that we might ultimately need in order to really function as people. And, as with Moses and Monotheism, he's got enough humility and appreciation for how huge his tasks here are to admit that he might not have it all figured out. It's a really great sociological book to read if you don't care for sociology per se
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read in your lifetime 4 Dec 2011
By ilovebridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Excellent thought provoking book that casts a new light on your perception of civilization and the individual's love/hate relationship with it. Not to nit pick, but the death instinct and the libido are not in "constant" opposition, but a bit of both can always be found in each one's expression. For example, the cold pleasure of self destruction and the aggressiveness of the sexual act. This is not my "take" on it so to speak, but discussed extensively by Freud himself in his other works, where he even gives eating as an example. (The destruction of outside organic matter to sustain life.) Regarding libido and death instincts as polar opposites is a simplification that, oddly enough, makes things more confusing.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much insight, plus wry humour -- and a few mistakes 19 Dec 2012
By Jennifer F Armstrong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I happen to have read Nietzsche's work extremely closely, so in the video I draw parallels about Freud's later pronouncements with those of Genealogy of Morals -- plus, a few points relating to Freud's psychological accuracy in historical hindsight, and his humor.
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concepts. 20 Dec 2013
By Jjoek1 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this in my youth at which time it seemed to have a great impression on me. Re-reading it now 60 yrs later, it is still of interest, but not so impressive, since many of Freud's concepts are now commonplace.
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex but thought-provoking 23 Nov 2013
By Imran Lorgat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A bit complex as an introduction to Freud but a great look into his ideas. Civilization and its Discontents covers what Freud believes to be the psychological origins of civilization as well as its costs and benefits.

Full review linked here: [...]
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