Sigmund Freud – Civilization and It’s Discontents

Sigmund Freud – Civilization and It’s Discontents

To My Tai Lopez 67 Steps Buddies,


(If you don’t know Tai Lopez and you haven’t gone through the 67 Steps, you’re missing out on something amazing. I highly recommend to anyone who wants to improve their health, wealth, love and happiness.)


This is my attempt at outlining Freud. Though it’s been six years since I started researching, studying, and then practicing psychology, Freud takes a lifetime to understand. I definitely don’t. But I do think I caught many of the main ideas.


I tried to bold and underline parts in order to catch your attention and orient your mind towards what he’s saying while you’re trying to read through the jargon. Most of the writing is a direct copy word for word out of Civilization and It’s Discontents, but I changed some of it and deleted a lot of it.


An overview just so you have a sense:
His final conclusion is that the sense of guilt is the most important problem in the evolution of culture. Civilization is progressing, but only by paying the price of forfeiting happiness through an increase sense of guilt.


This paper is written in logical order with the intent to explain and prove his conclusions. He starts at the very beginning of his argument and builds a case as to why and how civilization came to be and why it will never make us happy. In the process, he also explains what he believes to be the core cause of all human neuroses.
Three parts make up the human psyche
  1. Id – wants pleasure with no restraint
  2. Ego – The middle ground and hopefully the strongest part of your psyche (not the same as common use of ego that means “I’m so great”.)
  3. Superego – Says nonono. You can’t have/do/want that. Makes you feel bad, shame, anxiety, depression


Object – When he talks about an object he means a very close person. Most often object refers to the mother. Hopefully mother is a good object and meets baby’s needs. Mother can also be a bad object and not meet baby’s needs.


Pleasure Principle – Behavior of men shows that the purpose and object of their lives, is to seek happiness. They want to become happy and to remain so. There are two sides to this striving, a positive and a negative; eliminating pain and discomfort & experience of intense pleasures. In its narrower sense, the word happiness relates only to experiencing intense pleasures.


Human activities branch off in two directions corresponding to which they aim at realizing, either predominantly or even exclusively. As we see, it is simply the pleasure-principle which draws up the program of life’s purpose. It simply cannot be put into execution, the whole constitution of things runs counter to it; one might say the intention that man should be happy is not included in the scheme of Creation. What is called happiness in its narrowest sense comes from the instantaneous satisfaction of pent-up needs which have reached great intensity, and by its very nature can only be a transitory experience. When any condition desired by the pleasure-principle is protracted, it results in a feeling only of mild comfort; we are so constituted that we can only intensely enjoy contrasts, much less intensely states in themselves. Our possibilities of happiness are thus limited from the start by our very constitution. It is much less difficult to be unhappy. Suffering comes from three quarters:
1) our own body
2) nature
3) our relations with other men


Goethe even warns us that nothing is so hard to bear as a train of happy days. This may be an exaggeration. It is no wonder if, under the pressure of these possibilities of suffering, humanity wants to reduce its demands for happiness, just as even the pleasure-principle itself changes into the more accommodating reality-principle under the influence of external environment; if a man thinks himself happy if he has merely escaped unhappiness or weathered trouble; if in general the task of avoiding pain forces that of obtaining pleasure into the background. (This is the idea of being ok. And ok is good enough. Neutral, but not thriving.)


The other methods where the main motive is avoiding pain are differentiated according to the source of the suffering against which they are mainly directed.
  1. Voluntary loneliness, isolation from others, is the readiest safeguard against the unhappiness that may arise out of human relations.
  2. Combining with the rest of the human community and taking up the attack on nature, thus forcing it to obey human will, under the guidance of science. One is working, then, with all for the good of all.
  3. The most interesting methods for averting pain are those which aim in influencing the organism itself. In the last analysis, all pain is but a sensation; it only exists in so far as we feel it, and we feel it only in consequence of certain characteristics of our organism. The crudest of these methods of influencing the body, but also the most effective, is the chemical one: that of intoxication. There are certain substances foreign to the body which, when present in the blood or tissues, directly cause us pleasurable sensations, but also so change the conditions of our perceptivity that we become insensible of disagreeable sensations. There must be substances in the chemical composition of our bodies which can do the same, for we know of at least one morbid state, that of mania, in which a condition similar to this intoxication arises without any drug being absorbed. Besides this, our normal mental life shows variations, according to which pleasure is experienced with more or less ease, and along with this goes a diminished or increased sensitivity to pain. The services rendered by intoxicating substances in the struggle for happiness and in warding off misery rank so highly as a benefit that both individuals and races have given them an established position within their libido-economy. It is not merely the immediate gain in pleasure which one owes to them, but also a measure of that independence of the outer world which is so sorely craved. Men know that with the help they can get from drowning their cares they can at any time slip away from the oppression of reality and find a refuge in a world of their own where painful feelings do not enter. We are aware that it is just this property which constitutes the danger and injuriousness of intoxicating substances. In certain circumstances intoxicants are to blame when valuable energies which could have been used to improve the lot of humanity are uselessly wasted.


Civilization is a result of man’s attempt to control #’s 1 & 2. Human Relations and Nature. 
Order is a kind of repetition-compulsion by which it is ordained once for all when, where and how a thing shall be done so that on every similar occasion doubt and hesitation shall be avoided. The benefits of order are incontestable: it enables us to use space and time to the best advantage, while saving expenditure of mental energy. One would be justified in expecting that it would have ingrained itself from the start and without opposition into all human activities; and one may well wonder that this has not happened, and that, on the contrary, human beings manifest an inborn tendency to negligence, irregularity, and untrustworthiness in their work, and have to be laboriously trained to imitate the example of their celestial models.
Beauty, cleanliness, and order clearly occupy a peculiar position among the requirements of civilization. No one will maintain that they are as essential to life as the activities aimed at controlling the forces of nature and as other factors which we have yet to mention; and yet no one would willingly relegate them to the background as trivial matters. Beauty is an instance which plainly shows that culture is not simply utilitarian in its aims, for the lack of beauty is a thing we cannot tolerate in civilization. The utilitarian advantages of order are quite apparent; with regard to cleanliness, we have to remember that it is required of us by hygiene, and we may surmise that even before the days of scientific prophylaxis the connection between the two was not altogether unsuspected by mankind. But these aims and endeavours of culture are not entirely to be explained on utilitarian lines; there must be something else at work besides.


If we assume as a general hypothesis that the force behind all human activities is a striving towards the two convergent aims of profit and pleasure, we must then acknowledge this as valid also for these other manifestations of culture, although it can be plainly recognized as true only in respect of science and art. It cannot be doubted, however, that the remainder, too, correspond to some powerful need in human beings perhaps to one which develops fully only in a minority of people. Nor may we allow ourselves to be misled by our own judgments concerning the value of any of these religious or philosophical systems or of these ideals; whether we look upon them as the highest achievement of the human mind, or whether we deplore them as fallacies, one must acknowledge that where they exist, and especially where they are in the ascendant, they testify to a high level of civilization.


The evolution of culture seems to us a peculiar kind of process passing over humanity, of which several aspects strike us as familiar. We can describe this process in terms of the modifications it effects on the known human instinctual dispositions, which it is the economic task of our lives to satisfy. Some of these instincts become absorbed, as it were, so that something appears in place of them which in an individual we call a character-trait. The most remarkable example of this process is found in respect of the anal erotism of young human beings. Their primary interest in the excretory function, its organs and products, is changed in the course of their growth into a group of traits that we know well thriftiness, orderliness, and cleanliness valuable and welcome qualities in themselves, which, however, may be intensified till they visibly dominate the personality and produce what we call the anal character. How this happens we do not know; but there is no doubt about the accuracy of this conclusion. Now, we have seen that order and cleanliness are essentially cultural demands, although the necessity of them for survival is not particularly apparent, any more than their suitability as sources of pleasure. At this point we must be struck for the first time with the similarity between the process of cultural development and that of the libidinal development in an individual. Other instincts have to be induced to change the conditions of their gratification, to find it along other paths, a process which is usually identical with what we know so well as sublimation (of the aim of an instinct), but which can sometimes be differentiated from this. Sublimation of instinct is an especially conspicuous feature of cultural evolution; this it is that makes it possible for the higher mental operations, scientific, artistic, ideological activities, to play such an important part in civilized life. If one were to yield to a first impression, one would be tempted to say that sublimation is a fate which has been forced upon instincts by culture alone. But it is better to reflect over this a while longer. Thirdly and lastly, and this seems most important of all, it is impossible to ignore the extent to which civilization is built up on renunciation of instinctual gratifications. This dominates the whole field of social relations between human beings; we know already that it is the cause of the antagonism against which all civilization has to fight. It sets hard tasks for our scientific work, too; we have a great deal to explain here. It is not easy to understand how it can become possible to withhold satisfaction from an instinct. Nor is it by any means without risk to do so; if the deprivation is not made good economically, one may be certain of producing serious disorders.


Once primitive man had discovered that it lay in his own hands to improve his lot on earth by working, it cannot have been a matter of indifference to him whether another man worked with him or against him. The other acquired the value of a fellow-worker, and it was advantageous to live with him and have neighbors and friends. Even earlier, in his ape-like prehistory, man had adopted the habit of forming families: his first helpers were probably the members of his family. One may suppose that the founding of families was in some way connected with the period when the need for Sexual Satisfaction, no longer appearing like an occasional guest who turns up suddenly and then vanishes without letting one hear anything of him for long intervals, had settled down with each man like a permanent lodger. When this happened, the male acquired a motive for keeping the female, or rather, his sexual objects, near him; while the female, who wanted not to be separated from her helpless young, in their interests, too, had to stay by the stronger male.


The life of human beings in common therefore had a twofold foundation, i.e., the compulsion to work, created by external necessity, and the power of love, causing the male to wish to keep his sexual object, the female, near him, and the female to keep near her that part of herself which has become detached from her, her child. Since the two great powers were here cooperating together, one might have expected that further cultural evolution would have proceeded smoothly towards even greater mastery over the external world, as well as towards greater extension in the numbers of men sharing the life in common. Nor is it easy to understand how this culture can be felt as anything but satisfying by those who partake of it.
Before we go on to inquire where the disturbances in it arise, we will let ourselves digress from the point that love was one of the founders of culture and so fill a gap left in our previous discussion. We said that man, having found by experience that sexual (genital) love afforded him his greatest gratification, so that it became in effect a prototype of all happiness to him must have been thereby impelled to seek his happiness further along the path of sexual relations, to make genital erotism the central point of his life. We went on to say that in so doing he becomes to a very dangerous degree dependent on a part of the outer world, namely, on his chosen love-object, and this exposes him to most painful sufferings if he is rejected by it or loses it through death or defection. The wise men of all ages have consequently warned us emphatically against this way of life; but in spite of all it retains its attraction for a great number of people.
He uses a whole bunch of fancy words to say: Problems arise from inhibiting our sexual drives in attempts to protect ourselves from rejection, death, or defection.
Pleasure-principle has been linked up in many ways with religion. From one ethical standpoint, the deeper motivation towards an all-embracing love of others and of the world at large is regarded as the highest state of mind of which man is capable. There are two principal objections we have to raise against this view. A love that does not discriminate seems to us to lose some of its own value, since it does an injustice to its object. And secondly, not all men are worthy of love.
In general usage, the relation between a man and a woman whose genital desires have led them to found a family is called love; but the positive attitude of feeling between parents and children, between brothers and sisters in a family, is also called love, although to us this relation merits the description of aim-inhibited love or affection. Love with an inhibited aim was indeed originally fully sensual love and in men’s unconscious minds is so still. Both of them, the sensual and the aim-inhibited forms, reach out beyond the family and create new bonds with others who before were strangers. Genital love leads to the forming of new families; aim inhibited love to friendships, which are valuable culturally because they do not entail many of the limitations of genital love for instance, its exclusiveness. But the interrelations between love and culture lose their simplicity as development proceeds. On the one hand, love opposes the interests of culture; on the other, culture menaces love with grievous restrictions.


The next discord is caused by women, who soon become antithetical to cultural trends and spread around them their conservative influence the women who at the beginning laid the foundations of culture by the appeal of their love. Women represent the interests of the family and sexual life; the work of civilization has become more and more men’s business; it confronts them with ever harder tasks, compels them to sublimations (aka positive use of a defense mechanism) of instinct which women are not easily able to achieve. Since man has not an unlimited amount of mental energy at his disposal, he must accomplish his tasks by distributing his libido to the best advantage. What he employs for cultural purposes he withdraws to a great extent from women and his sexual life; his constant association with men and his dependence on his relations with them even estrange him from his duties as husband and father. Woman finds herself thus forced into the background by the claims of culture, and she adopts an inimical attitude towards it.


(Remember Freud says the basic human drives are sex and aggression.)


The tendency of culture to set restrictions upon sexual life is no less evident than its other aim of widening its sphere of operations. Even the earliest phase of it, the totemic, brought in its train the prohibition against incestuous object-choice, perhaps the most maiming wound ever inflicted throughout the ages on the erotic life of man. (I think he just said it’s really bad we don’t have incest?) Further limitations are laid on it by taboos, laws, and customs, which touch men as well as women. Various types of culture differ in the lengths to which they carry this; and the material structure of the social fabric also affects the measure of sexual freedom that remains. We have seen that culture obeys the laws of psychological economic necessity in making the restrictions, for it obtains a great part of the mental energy it needs by subtracting it from sexuality. Culture behaves towards sexuality in this respect like a tribe or a section of the population which has gained the upper hand and is exploiting the rest to its own advantage. Fear of a revolt among the oppressed then becomes a motive, for even stricter sexual regulations.
One is probably right in supposing that the importance of sexuality as a source of pleasurable sensations, i.e., as a means of fulfilling the purpose of life, has perceptibly decreased. Sometimes one imagines one perceives that it is not only the oppression of culture, but something in the nature of the function itself that denies us full satisfaction and urges us in other directions. This may be an error; it is hard to decide.
PSYCHO-ANALYTIC work has shown that these frustrations in respect of sexual life are especially unendurable to the so-called neurotics among us. These persons manufacture substitute-gratifications for themselves in their symptoms, which, however, are either painful in themselves or become the cause of suffering owing to the difficulties they create with the person’s environment and society at large. It is easy to understand the latter fact, but the former presents us with a new problem. But culture demands other sacrifices besides that of sexual gratifications.


When a love-relationship is at its height, no room is left for any interest in the surrounding world; the pair of lovers are sufficient unto themselves, do not even need the child they have in common to make them happy. In no other case does Eros so plainly betray the core of his being, his aim of making one out of many; but when he has achieved it in the proverbial way through the love of two human beings, he is not willing to go further.


Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. It is world-renowned, undoubtedly older than Christianity which parades it as its proudest profession, yet certainly not very old; in historical times, men still knew nothing of it. We will adopt a naive attitude towards it, as if we were meeting it for the first time. Thereupon, we find ourselves unable to suppress a feeling of astonishment, as at something unnatural. Why should we do this? What good is it to us? Above all, how can we do such a thing? How could it possibly be done? My love seems to me a valuable thing that I have no right to throw away without reflection. It imposes obligations on me which I must be prepared to make sacrifices to fulfill. If I love someone, he must be worthy of it in some way or other. (I am leaving out of account now the use he may be to me. as well as his possible significance to me as a sexual object; neither of these two kinds of relationship between us come into question where the injunction to love my neighbour is concerned.) He will be worthy of it if he is so like me in important respects that I can love myself in him; worthy of it if he is so much more perfect than I that I can love my ideal of myself in him; I must love him if he is the son of my friend, since the pain my friend would feel if anything untoward happened to him would be my pain I should have to share it.


But if he is a stranger to me and cannot attract me by any value he has in himself or any significance he may have already acquired in my emotional life, it will be hard for me to love him. I shall even be doing wrong if I do, for my love is valued as a privilege by all those belonging to me; it is an injustice to them if I put a stranger on a level with them. But if I am to love him (with that kind of universal love) simply because he, too, is a denizen of the earth, like an insect or an earthworm or a grass-snake, then I fear that but a small modicum of love will fall to his lot and it would be impossible for me to give him as much as by all the laws of reason I am entitled to retain for myself. What is the point of an injunction promulgated with such solemnity, if reason does not recommend it to us?


Now it is, of course, very probable that my neighbor, when he is commanded to love me as himself, will answer exactly as I have done and reject me for the same reasons. I hope he will not have the same objective grounds for doing so, but he will hope so as well. Even so, there are variations in men’s behavior which ethics, disregarding the fact that they are determined, classifies as good and evil. As long as these undeniable variations have not been abolished, conformity to the highest ethical standards constitutes a betrayal of the interests of culture, for it puts a direct premium on wickedness.
Men are not gentle, friendly creatures wishing for love, who simply defend themselves if they are attacked, but that a powerful measure of desire for Aggression has to be reckoned as part of their instinctual endowment. The result is that their neighbor is to them not only a possible helper or sexual object, but also a temptation to them to gratify their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without recompense, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and kill him.


Who has the courage to dispute it in the face of all the evidence in his own life and in history? This aggressive cruelty usually lies in wait for some provocation, or else it steps into the service of some other purpose, the aim of which might as well have been achieved by milder measures. In circumstances that favour it, when those forces in the mind which ordinarily inhibit it cease to operate, it also manifests itself spontaneously and reveals men as savage beasts to whom the thought of sparing their own kind is alien. Anyone who calls to mind the atrocities of the early migrations, of the invasion by the Huns, or by the so-called Mongols under Jenghiz Khan and Tamurlane, of the sack of Jerusalem by the pious Crusaders, even indeed the horrors of the last World War, will have to bow his head humbly before the truth of this view of man.


The 3 paragraphs below are important and interesting. Read them slowly until you understand. He’s talking about communism and shared equal resources. He then goes into how men need an outlet for their aggression and feud their neighbors. Think countries and war. 
The Communists believe they have found a way of delivering us from this evil. Man is whole-heartedly good and friendly to his neighbor, they say, but the system of private property has corrupted his nature. The possession of private property gives power to the individual and thence the temptation arises to ill-treat his neighbor; the man who is excluded from the possession of property is obliged to rebel in hostility against the oppressor. If private property were abolished, all valuables held in common and all allowed to share in the enjoyment of them, ill-will and enmity would disappear from among men. Since all needs would be satisfied, none would have any reason to regard another as an enemy; all would willingly undertake the work which is necessary.


I have no concern with any economic criticisms of the communistic system; one cannot enquire into whether the abolition of private property is advantageous and expedient. But I am able to recognize that psychologically it is founded on an untenable illusion. By abolishing private property one deprives the human love of aggression of one of its instruments, a strong one undoubtedly, but assuredly not the strongest. It in no way alters the individual differences in power and influence which are turned by aggressiveness to its own use, nor does it change the nature of the instinct in any way. This instinct did not arise as the result of property; it reigned almost supreme in primitive times when possessions were still extremely scanty; it shows itself already in the nursery when possessions have hardly grown out of their original anal shape; it is at the bottom of all the relations of affection and love between human beings possibly with the single exception of that of a mother to her male child. Suppose that personal rights to material goods are done away with, there still remain prerogatives in sexual relationships, which must arouse the strongest rancour and most violent enmity among men and women who are otherwise equal. Let us suppose this were also to be removed by instituting complete liberty in sexual life, so that the family, the germ-cell of culture, ceased to exist; one could not foresee the new paths on which cultural development might then proceed, but one thing one would be bound to expect and that is that the ineffaceable feature of human nature would follow wherever it led.


Men clearly do not find it easy to do without satisfaction of this tendency to aggression; when deprived of satisfaction of it they are ill at ease. There is an advantage, not to be undervalued, in the existence of smaller communities, through which the aggressive instinct can find an outlet in enmity towards those outside the group. It is always possible to unite considerable numbers of men in love towards one another, so long as there are still some remaining as objects for aggressive manifestations. I once interested myself in the peculiar fact that peoples whose territories are adjacent, and are otherwise closely related, are always at feud with and ridiculing each other.


If civilization requires such sacrifices, not only of sexuality but also of the aggressive tendencies in mankind, we can better understand why it should be so hard for men to feel happy in it.


Sadism, long since known to us as a component-instinct of sexuality, would represent a particularly strong admixture of the instinct of destruction into the love impulse; while its counterpart, masochism, would be an alliance between sexuality and the destruction at work within the self, in consequence of which the otherwise imperceptible destructive trend became directly evident and palpable.


Freud goes on and explains aggression to be the death instinct directly counter to life instinct. 
 (Something he and Jung agreed on. Jung was big on Eros and Thanatos and the shadows.)


What means does civilization make use of to hold in check the aggressiveness that opposes it, to make it harmless, perhaps to get rid of it? Some of these measures we have already come to know, though not yet the one that is apparently the most important. We can study it in the evolution of the individual. What happens in him to render his craving for aggression innocuous? Something very curious, that we should never have guessed and that yet seems simple enough. The aggressiveness is introjected, internalized; in fact, it is sent back where it came from, i. e., directed against the ego. It is there taken over by a part of the ego that distinguishes itself from the rest as a super-ego, and now, in the form of conscience, exercises the same propensity to harsh aggressiveness against the ego that the ego would have liked to enjoy against others. The tension between the strict super-ego and the subordinate ego we call the sense of guilt; it manifests itself as the need for punishment. Civilization, therefore, obtains the mastery over the dangerous love of aggression in individuals by enfeebling and disarming it and setting up an institution within their minds to keep watch over it, like a garrison in a conquered city. (He’s saying that in order to control our aggressiveness, we deny it and turn it against ourselves instead and feel shame, guilt, and depression.)


When one asks how a sense of guilt arises in anyone, one is told something one cannot dispute: people feel guilty (religious people call it sinful) when they have done something they know to be bad. But then one sees how little this answer tells one. Perhaps, after some hesitation, one will add that a person who has not actually committed a bad act, but has merely become aware of the intention to do so, can also hold himself guilty; and then one will ask why in this case the intention is counted as equivalent to the deed. In both cases, however, one is presupposing that wickedness has already been recognized as reprehensible, as something that ought not to be put into execution. How is this judgment arrived at? One may reject the suggestion of an original as one might say, natural capacity for discriminating between good and evil. Evil is often not at all that which would injure or endanger the ego; on the contrary, it can also be something that it desires, that would give it pleasure. An extraneous influence is evidently at work; it is this that decides what is to be called good and bad. Since their own feelings would not have led men along the same path, they must have had a motive for obeying this extraneous influence. It is easy to discover this motive in man’s helplessness and dependence upon others, it can best be designated the dread of losing love. If he loses the love of others on whom he is dependent, he will forfeit also their protection against many dangers, and above all he runs the risk that this stronger person will show his superiority in the form of punishing him. What is bad is, therefore, to begin with, whatever causes one to be threatened with a loss of love; because of the dread of this loss, one must desist from it. That is why it makes little difference whether one has already committed the bad deed or only intends to do so; in either case the danger begins only when the authority has found it out.
(He’s saying we decide what’s good and bad based on the threat of punishment and losing people we love.)


We call this state of mind a bad conscience but actually it does not deserve this name, for at this stage the sense of guilt is obviously only the dread of losing love, social anxiety. In a little child it can never be anything else, but in many adults too it has only changed in so far as the larger human community takes the place of the father or of both parents. Consequently, such people habitually permit themselves to do any bad deed that procures them something they want, if only they are sure that no authority will discover it or make them suffer for it; their anxiety relates only to the possibility of detection. Present-day society has to take into account the prevalence of this state of mind.


This becomes especially clear when destiny is looked upon in the strictly religious sense as the expression of God’s will and nothing else. The people of Israel believed themselves to be God’s favorite children, and when the great Father hurled visitation after visitation upon them, it still never shook them in this belief or caused them to doubt His power and His justice; they proceeded instead to bring their prophets into the world to declare their sinfulness to them and out of their sense of guilt they constructed the stringent commandments of their priestly religion. It is curious how differently a savage behaves! If he has had bad fortune, he does not throw the blame on himself, but on his fetish, who has plainly not done his duty by him, and he belabours it instead of punishing himself.
These inter-relations are so complicated and so important that I will consider them again from another angle. The chronological sequence would thus be as follows:
1) first, denial of your aggressive instincts due to dread of punishment. This is tantamount to the dread of loss of love, for love is a protection against these punitive aggressions.
2) Then your conscience kicks in you feel guilty due to dread of punishment or loss of love.


He thinks this may explain the reason we developed a conscience.


(The paragraph below is how he arrives at the Oedipal Complex. Child has instinctive aggressive urges and see father as more powerful and fears punishment. Child wants to kill father and fall in love with mother, even just thinking about it he feels really guilty and represses the desire.)
We cannot disregard the conclusion that man’s sense of guilt has its origin in the Oedipus complex and was acquired when the father was killed by the association of the brothers. At that time the aggression was not suppressed but carried out, and it is this same act of aggression whose suppression in the child we regard as the source of feelings of guilt. Now, I should not be surprised if a reader were to cry out angrily: So it makes no difference whether one does kill one’s father or does not, one gets a feeling of guilt in either case! Here I should think one may be allowed some doubts. Either it is not true that guilt is evoked by suppressed aggressiveness or else the whole story about the father-murder is a romance, and primeval man did not kill his father any more often than people do nowadays. Besides this, if it is not a romance but a plausible piece of history, it would only be an instance of what we all expect to happen, namely, that one feels guilty because one has really done something which cannot be justified. And what we are all waiting for is for psycho-analysis to give us an explanation of this reaction, which at any rate is something that happens every day.


Guilt is the expression of the conflict of ambivalence, the eternal struggle between Eros and the destructive or death instinct.


The final conclusion – The sense of guilt is the most important problem in the evolution of culture. The price of progress in civilization is paid in forfeiting happiness through the heightening of the sense of guilt.


In the common cases of remorse which we think normal, it becomes clearly perceptible to consciousness. In our study of the neuroses, in which we have found invaluable clues towards an understanding of normal people, we find some very contradictory states of affairs in this respect. In obsessional neurosis, the sense of guilt makes itself loudly heard in consciousness; it dominates the clinical picture as well as the patient’s life and lets hardly anything else appear alongside of it. But in most of the other types and forms of neurosis it remains completely unconscious, without its effect being any less great.
Our patients do not believe us when we ascribe an unconscious sense of guilt to them; in order to become even moderately intelligible to them, we have to explain that the sense of guilt expresses itself in an unconscious seeking for punishment. But its connection with the form of the neurosis is not to be over-estimated; even in the obsessional neurosis there are people who are not aware of their sense of guilt or who perceive it only as a tormenting uneasiness or kind of anxiety and then not until they are prevented from carrying out certain actions.
Here perhaps is the place to remark that at bottom the sense of guilt is nothing but anxiety. In its later phases it coincides completely with the dread of the super-ego. Somewhere or other there is always anxiety hidden behind all symptoms; at one moment, however, it sweeps into consciousness, drowning everything else with its clamour, and at the next it secretes itself so completely that we are forced to speak of unconscious anxiety or if we want to have a cleaner conscience psychologically, since anxiety is after all only a perception of possibilities of anxiety.
Religions come forward with a claim, to save mankind from this sense of guilt, which they call sin.
We indeed have drawn our conclusions, from the way in which in Christianity this salvation is won the sacrificial death of one who therewith takes the whole of the common guilt of all upon himself about the occasion on which this primal sense of guilt was first acquired, that is, the occasion which was also the inception of culture.


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