Book Review: Civilization and It’s Discontents by Sigmund Freud | Stephen Diagram

Civilization and It’s Discontents by Sigmund Freud

The 3 Sources of Unhappiness in Your Life

BUY Civilization and It’s Discontents by Sigmund Freud Civilization and Its Discontents


Society / Civilization restricts our natural impulses and inclinations; making us unhappy and frustrated.

Freud argues that people’s perceived purpose in life is to

  1. Maximize Happiness and Pleasure
  2. Minimize Pain and Discomfort

Our Main sources of unhappiness is our social relations with others

  • We are unhappy because of society and our civilization
  • Society restrings our natural desires and inclinations

Most people are aggressive by nature; we had to look for food every day, hunting animals and killing them to satisfy our needs.

Most people desire sexual satisfaction; there weren’t any sexual restrictions in primitive times.

  • Current society / civilization restricts free / open sexual desire
  • Causing discomfort, unhappiness and frustration

Sigmund Freud argues that Religion is an Illusion

Religion exists to alleviate the harshness of life. There are 3 ways to escape this pitfall

  1. Science “Powerful Deflections”
  2. Art “Substitutive Satisfactions”
  3. Alcohol and Drugs “Intoxicating substances”

Three Main Sources of Suffering and Pain

  1. Our own bodies – doomed to decay
  2. The external world – Natural Sources and Disasters
  3. Our relationship with people – the most painful

Strategies for finding Happiness and Pleasure

  1. Voluntary Isolation “Happiness of Quietness”
  2. Participating in the community / engaging social relationships
  3. Influencing our body and mind through drugs, intoxication OR through meditation
  4. Physical and Intellectual Work – Creating Art or solving Scientific problems

Civilization has not made Man-Kind Happier

  • Primitive men and women had fewer wants and needs
  • Technology and science has failed to make us happier
  • Restricting our freedom of the individual and his satisfaction of powerful instincts

Families Were Based on 2 Things

  1. Compulsion to work together to deal with the external world
  2. The Power of Love – Genital and Universal aim-inhibited Love ( Close Friendships )

Restricting Our Primal Aggressive Urges is Against Our Nature

  • Creating unhappiness in the individual
  • Inducing a sense of Guilt

Current Society / Civilization Makes Us Feel Guilty for Being Aggressive

  • Guilty if we are violent
  • Guilty if we have freedom of sex
  • Causing us to internalize our frustrations

BUY Civilization and It’s Discontents by Sigmund Freud Civilization and Its Discontents

One Comment Add yours

  1. Brian Geiger says:

    What a fascinating book. Though the “science” of psychoanalysis has been (rightly) evicted from mainstream academic psychology, its philosophy still has a great deal to say. Freud’s idea of “phylogenetic endowment” predated evolutionary psychology by nearly 40 years! The man deserves much more respect than he’s given. Great review here–keep these books alive! You clearly have academic interests (you’re in the minority there, unfortunately), and that is something to be admired.


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