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76 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freud as psychoanalytic sociologist.
Sigmund Freud, whatever the variations in his posthumous reputation, remains the most compelling, daring, and persuasive analyst of the human condition we have. His psychoanalytic theories of sexuality, sublimation, repression, etc., offer original insights that profoundly influenced the course of Western consciousness in the 20th century. In addition to his gifts as a...
Published on January 5, 2004 by Augustus Caesar, Ph.D.

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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read if a bit anachronistic.
I have to admit to being a little prejudiced before starting this book. I had read a lot of negative criticism of Freud, so finally I decided to read something for myself and find out what all the fuss is about. A person who creates such polar views must be saying something that touches the core. This slim book is a good place to start.

Freud clearly had a deep...
Published on November 16, 2004 by Mike


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76 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freud as psychoanalytic sociologist., January 5, 2004
By 
Augustus Caesar, Ph.D. (Eugene, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
Sigmund Freud, whatever the variations in his posthumous reputation, remains the most compelling, daring, and persuasive analyst of the human condition we have. His psychoanalytic theories of sexuality, sublimation, repression, etc., offer original insights that profoundly influenced the course of Western consciousness in the 20th century. In addition to his gifts as a thinker, Freud was a master stylist, a man whose luminous prose and skillful argumentation make reading him a genuine pleasure.
"Civilization and Its Discontents," one of Freud's last works, remains one of his most vital and important. Don't be fooled by its brevity; this is a deeply complex and wide-ranging examination of Western civilization and its tensions. Freud speculates about the origins of our modern societies, the difficulties of assimilating ourselves to them given our own individual psyches, and ends the book with a rather pessimistic look forward. Clearly, Freud felt that civilization's "discontents" were an unresolvable fact of life.
What makes "Civilization and Its Discontents" so fascinating is Freud's application of psychoanalysis to Western society as whole. He examines how the factors at play in our own psyches--family conflicts, sexual desire, guilt, the "death instinct," and the eternal battle between our own self-interest and the interests of the human species at large--cause the problems that human beings encounter on a daily basis. As always with Freud, his ideas are put forward not as a final statement, but as a tentative first step.
This is one of Freud's indispensable texts, and its accessible and absorbing style make it an ideal introduction for those who are seeking to discover this colossal mind for the first time. A must read.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate Summation of Freud's Thought, July 11, 2007
By 
Steiner (Philadelphia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
`Civilization and its Discontents' is Freud's miniature opus. It is a superficial masterpiece that stretches further than any of his other works; he is reaching for an explanation for human nature in terms of the id-ego-superego structure of the individual as he exists in civilization. For Freud, human beings are characterized by Eros (Sex Drive) and Thanatos (Death Drive), which remain in opposition to one another. This small book is filled with as many interesting ideas as any work of modern philosophy. Freud adopts (perhaps a bit hastily), a Nietzschean position with regard to the role of religion and institutions of social morality which curb and shape primordial human drives. As a result, human beings, and civilizations as a whole remain unsatisfied and suffer from neuroses. He concludes with a discussion of human aggression, which manifests itself in the form of communalized human aggression. He wonders as to whether or not human beings will be able to overcome this drive. It seems to me that this question remains the most important for human beings in the 21st century. Will we be able to overcome our Thanatos and survive the destructive powers that we have created? I suspect that Freud will be better remembered as a thinker and philosopher than as an analyst or doctor precisely because he asks the questions that remain relevant for civilization today, and are likely to remain imperative in the future.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life, January 6, 2010
I read this book at age 18 after getting interested in psychiatry by an author named Karl Menninger. Freud's essay, Civilization and Its Discontents, has had the greatest impact on my life out of any book or experience. Within this short book he had taken my whole view of the world, turned it upside-down, and added an exclamation point. To understand this book doesn't require great intellectual power but rather mental capacity i.e, a capacity to receive a massive dose of pessimism! I would add almost as a warning that Freud's implied philosophy is almost conducive to depression in a maladjusted mind! If you want hope or faith, this is not for you. Regardless, everybody should read this book.
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28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise: Freud is actually an effective writer!, April 14, 2003
By 
Timothy Shives (Collegedale, tn USA) - See all my reviews
Many people today believe that Sigmund Freud was obsessed with sex. However, most of these assumptions are based upon what another person said of Freud and almost never upon a careful reading of Freud's work. These people do not see the fact that Freud writes on more than sexuality, he also analyzes and researches the study of mankind. Sigmund Freud attacks the question why we do things the way we do head on and answers to the best of his reason. Therefore, Sigmund Freud was truly a man of his time and his debate on mankind was a very innovative method to answer mankind's most serious issues.
Man is an aggressive being and civilization is the means which humanity withholds its primal urges in check. At least Freud believes so and shows support for this thesis by referring to mankind's constant need to restrain its inherent passions despite all of the controls placed by society. I believe that Freud was definitely on to something with this point. He is right when he states that man is essentially an anti-social, anti-cultural being. One could look down through the pages of history and see war after war, violent act after violent primarily as a result of the inherent greed for power and a passionate thirst for more than one's own. This is one of the many reasons why communism is impossible, man is a selfish being and always desires more than he possesses. He will do what is necessary to increase his holding at the expense of his fellows. I believe that Nietzsche and Freud are in agreement at this point. However, Nietzsche believes that the masses attempt to quell this passion and label that as noble. I believe that Freud does not think it is possible to restrain this aggressiveness and mankind is only able to cover it up in a semblance of control which we label civilization. Though I see merit in both men's argument, my reaction is that there is another solution. I believe in Christian perspective that "by beholding we become changed" and with a personal relationship with Christ one is capable of achieving victory over that aggression. Freud argues that the need for self-preservation is often disrupted by a "social anxiety". This anxiety is a state in which individuals are controlled by the opinions of others towards them. Freud contends that the majority of society is ruled by this anxiety. His solution to this is a "higher stage" attainable by rising above the need to care about how others perceive one's conduct. This implies that behavior controlled by social conventions is more primitive than behavior controlled by the individual. According to Freud, morality is not an issue of socially determined shame, but a matter of internalized primal guilt. This guilt is the basis for beliefs such as an original sin and is the main catalyst in mankind's aggression. I doubt that this is the most flattering perspective to look upon our own nature, but Freud's argument does contain a lot of merit.
We read earlier in Walden that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" and I believe Freud saw this desperation as a direct result of the affects of social anxiety. We see this today in the pop culture where in order to fit in an individual must conform to the trends in fashion. We see it in the work environment where the worker flatters his boss. We see it in the political world where politicians say and do what is necessary to keep public opinions high. We are so drawn into the belief that the opinions of others matters that we spend the majority of our time and money on things we don't need to impress people we don't care about.
After reading Civilization and Its Discontents I am not under the impression that Freud is correct about everything. However, I am able to respect his writing as an important critical look at society which still has merit even today. Perhaps our world would be a better place if all of its inhabitants stop to think of why they do the things they do and what are the effects of their actions. Perhaps mankind would improve if we learned how to control our inherent aggression and to not worry about other people's opinions. Perhaps this is merely wishful thinking on my part.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable for General Reader, December 20, 2007
By 
Jack Ragsdale (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Freud continued writing into his old age. The three books* of this period are highly suitable for the general reader, that is, every seeker of knowledge.In 1930 when he was 74, He wrote "Civilization and Its Discontents" which, in its first words, scolds us gently. Our judgments are faulty. We fail to recognize and respect greatness; we allow ourselves to be misled--our oceanic, sensation of eternity to be misdirected. The subject matter in this book touches such diversities as the world's problems, religion, happiness and guilt with the deft hand.
Louis Menand's introduction contains valuable information on Freud's work, and Peter Gay's "Brief Life" tells of the author's origins and life. This book may be called "popular" in the best sense of that word.
*The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and Its Discontents & Thomas Woodrow Wilson a Psychological Study
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars prophetic, August 6, 2009
Whether you agree with Freud's psychoanalytical theories or not, there is no dispute over his intelligence, insight, and his eloquence. In this short book, he explains the conflicts civilization process created in individual psyche. Basically, he argues that the civilization's aim in uniting community in order to avoid sources of suffering imposes restrictions on individual liberty (of origin is libido--pleasure principle) which becomes the main source of discontents. He also warns about the danger of a powerful group with control over the force of nature which can potentially eliminate some human beings, which is rather prophetic considering the Nazi's presenct in Europe shortly after publication of this book. His logic is very tight according his main theories (structural theory, mainly), and writing is precise and eloquent. Just Brilliant.
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read if a bit anachronistic., November 16, 2004
I have to admit to being a little prejudiced before starting this book. I had read a lot of negative criticism of Freud, so finally I decided to read something for myself and find out what all the fuss is about. A person who creates such polar views must be saying something that touches the core. This slim book is a good place to start.

Freud clearly had a deep understanding of the human condition. When you consider he was a born in the 1800s, it is clear he was many years ahead of his time. This book discusses how the individual is inevitably subjugated by his society to become civilized. That is how the social order represses our desires. He discusses both the positive and negative aspects of this on personal development. I found it quite a difficult read as there are extensive footnotes throughout the book that are sometimes pertinent and at other times not, which I found disrupted the chain of reasoning at times.

A worthy read that has encouraged me to read more of his work.
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26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My conception of Frued's "Civilization and It's Discontents", March 4, 2000
To whoever is interested in Freuds "Civilization and It's Discontents" I SAY READ IT! An excellent book which depicts civilization for what it is. In this book Freud discussed a varity of topics such as religion, sex, happiness and human suffering (listed in no particular order). I think that the entire purpose of the book was to show humans that civilization is not any better than times before it occured. We tend to think of ourselves better than pre-civilized times however, nothing has changed because reality is constant. Human nature is focused on beauty, instinct and will.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well stated view of human societal impeduses, July 18, 1998
By A Customer
Frued discribes the human animals (primarily males) reason for action within a society constructed to maintain order as the quid pro quo for supressing sexual desires (this is Frued). In this topic Frued sticks to his topic without getting too wacky with unsupported assertions (except in the footers). His arguments are mostly sound and should provide food for thought for those who are interested in discovering what makes them tick. A good Frued primer and also a must for true Hesse, Maugham, and Nietzche fans. Not too abstruse or confuted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freud's Most Accessible Work, August 9, 2013
This review is from: Civilization and Its Discontents (Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud) (Paperback)
Civilization and Its Discontents is considered one of the most important books written in the last century. It was first published in German in 1930. While Dr. Sigmund Freud has some interesting ideas about civilization and the unconscious this book does have its share of flaws. It can be very insightful and thought-provoking. Freud says, "Evil is often far from being harmful to the ego." He talks about some age-old problems of humankind such as sex and aggression. Freud sees civilization as a solution to repress instinctual drives that are natural to humans (despite the obvious problems it creates in its place). So the collective is favored over the individual (such is the price of order). That pessimistic outlook doesn't sit well with me but I can't say I disagree. We all have to learn how to live with each other but we haven't been too successful when individuals have been left to their own devices nor has civilization done much to improve the human nervous system, mind or relations between us.

Some have noted some of Freud's true opinions were kept from all but his closest associates. Jung and Reich have mentioned that Freud caved into societal expectations when writing and speaking publicly. He didn't want to place the individual at the center but seemingly prefers to place government there instead. I can appreciate that a self-centered society has its limitations but so do our governments, corporations and leaders. Freud seems to blame organized religion for society's ills when individuals are at the root of all good and evil (especially those in positions of power). Freud seems to reduce the impact of religion by arguing about the feelings it generates instead of exploring natural human interpretation mechanisms and our lifelong search for meaning. I believe Freud did not truly see the plight of the individual as fixed or hopeless (as he implies in the text). While many argue Freud is all about sex he was an extraordinary thinker who knew much more than he wrote about. The book proper is only 100 pages or so surrounded by a biography on Freud. So it is a fairly quick read but not an easy read. It is obvious at the outset that Freud does not write with the flourish of a natural author so many passages could have been clearer or stated better. Freud makes his points in a round-about way and fails to provide a way out of the dilemma civilization has created for us. Few thinkers have been so bold as to state the real problem: How do individuals live in a repressive society that seeks to limit their natural expression (try reading a biography on Diogenes of Sinope for info on that). While the book was no doubt shocking and groundbreaking at its time the field of psychology and human relations have mostly absorbed his ideas at this point in history so it doesn't have the same impact on modern audiences despite remaining a classic.
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Civilization and Its Discontents (Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud)
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