Civilization and Its Discontents Questions and Answers
by Sigmund Freud

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What does Freud say about human happiness in Civilization and Its Discontents?

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Freud's book is a critique of human society, and it posits that society has evolved in response to the inner psychological conflict between Thanotos (the death drive, or will to self-destruction and violence) and Eros (the sex drive). He says,

What we call happiness in the strictest sense comes from the (preferably sudden) satisfaction of needs which have been dammed up to a high degree, and it is from its nature only possible as an episodic phenomenon.

Nature plays a key role in regulating happiness, as it serves as a mechanism for withholding satisfaction; civilization was developed as a way to exert human control over nature and regulate the "satisfaction of needs." This "regulation" is, in fact, a form of repression: civilization represses the libido, and is an outward expression of the inner struggles of id, ego, and superego , which manifests in the...

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