Civilization and Its Discontents Questions and Answers
by Sigmund Freud

Start Your Free Trial

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

Expert Answers info

Octavia Cordell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

calendarEducator since 2016

write1,133 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

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...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 427 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial