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Civilization and Its Discontents

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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  15,200 ratings  ·  427 reviews
"Civilization overcomes the dangerous aggressivity of the individual, by weakening him, disarming him, and setting up an internal authority to watch over him, like a garrison in a conquered town"


Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They...more
Paperback, 106 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (first published 1930)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jessica
Nov 11, 2007 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone laboring under the illusion that they do not love freud
Shelves: groups-of-people
This may come as a surprise considering how much I complain about psychotherapy, but I LOVE SIGMUND FREUD. This is not just transference, and no, he doesn't remind me at all of my father; I believe Freud was a great genius, and far more importantly, that he was a fantastic writer and very interesting person. I also believe that Freud is one of the most unfairly maligned and willfully misinterpreted figures of the past hundred-or-so years.

If you haven't read him (HIM, not his theories), or if you...more
Gary
The impact of Sigmund Freud on contemporary Western thought can hardly be underestimated. Many of the key "psychological" terms we employ can be traced back to his writing. Although fascinating and often insightful, much of his influence has been destructive, providing comfort and a scientific imprimatur for a large portion of the anti-Western diatribes of the last generation.

Let us first dispose of several misconceptions that have clouded the popular image of this brilliant thinker. To begin wi...more
Mr.
`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 p...more
Belal
أكثر استفادة لي من الكتاب ،أنه غير لي نظرتي السطحية ،لأطروحة فرويد الخاصة ،بعقدة قتل الأب الأصيلة ،فأنا كنت أردها دائما بالحجة العادية ،أنه إذا كان الذنب ،قد جاء من القتل ،فكيف تكونت هذه القابلية أصلا ،للشعور بالذنب ؟،ولكن تحليل فرويد لها ،وادماجها في منظومته التفسيرية كان أقوى من التعامل معها بصفتها خيال جامح
..
يقول جورج طرابيشي المترجم ،أن السؤال الذي يجيب عليه فرويد هو ""لماذا لا يحظى الإنسان بالسعادة التي ينشدها مهما قارب أن يكون الها؟"" ،يمكن القول بأن الإجابة على مدار الكتاب هي "لإن الإنسا...more
Omneya
A tedious read, Freud's essay is mundane at worst, general knowledge at best.
Freud had this tendency to make pretty obvious and minor premises and then jump to big and somehow unrelated conclusions depending on said premises.

It's already known that Freud and his disciples were treading a deserted land which is psychoanalysis in their times, which calls for far more caution and far more-in this case, very welcomed-pedantry.

Nevertheless Freud writes with uncalled for confidence, mixing facts with...more
matt

I've got nothing against Freud, really, but whatever it was I was looking to find I didn't find it here.

It may have been a bad translation but the prose was leaden, uninteresting and seemed way to weighed-down with self-importance and near-myopic pedantry.

I read it because of course its a seminal classic and one of his central texts but was mildly disappointed to see that there wasn't all that much "there" there.

I've always been intrigued by Freud and I would like to get some of the finer points...more
Michael
Aug 05, 2010 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Intellectual Historians, Psychology students, Freudians
Recommended to Michael by: Richard Beyler
This is one of those "seminal" books that shows you why so much of Western thought is totally screwed up. The premises and logic of Freud's argument are utter nonsense from beginning to end, yet he somehow taps into a vein of unconscious imagery within the contemporary Zeitgeist that still resonates 80 years later. Certainly, for anyone studying the early 20th century, the ideas in here will seem eerily familiar; Freud isn't so much creating a new argument here as speaking aloud what was in ever...more
Bruce
I was interested in reading this short work at this time because Freud herein addresses, inter alia, the creation of art as sublimation of libido in society. In this text Freud addresses several issues and introduces or expands on concepts that he introduced elsewhere, and it is interesting to see the evolution of his own thinking. Among other things he discusses ego differentiation and the development of religion as a means of addressing the fear that the superior power of fate brings, but that...more
Christian Clarke
This book explains why the average man--someone like you--is always pissed off, as if there is a cauldron of anger boiling just beneath his--and your--clothes. This book explains why you will be standing behind that douche bag in the checkout lane at the grocery store and suddenly feel the urge to lunge at him and with your bare hands tear the larynx out of this throat, but don't. Instead you grit your teeth and check your smartphone for NFL score updates and then later, in your Prius, you shudd...more
Monte
First and foremost, The Standard Edition of this book does not have 160 pages. Sigmund Freud's psycho-analytical thoughts begin on page 10 and end on 112. The pages after that are the Bibliography. So in the 102 real Freud pages, I have decided that he is not quite as much of an "inspiration" as I thought he was. Beginning on page 70, he begins to analyze the pros of the Communist System in which I regard is a means to destroy the exact definition of civilization that Freud portrays: that it dep...more
Jonathon
A must read. (Read this paragraph in a snobbish elite voice...fine dont do it, whatever....)

More philosophical than psychological I would say, though it borderlines both. Really interesting on the creation of art and science and the libido interconnected. Also his discussion that people who lack a drive in art and science (lay people) tend to be drawn to religion.

What a pompous asshole. I dont know, maybe im reading this shit wrong.....anyway

Overall pretty good, except the last 20 pages I got...more
Brian
May 14, 2008 Brian rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with an intrigued reaction to its title
It's impossible to read "Civilization and Its Discontents" and not come away with the impression that Freud is a genius. His ability to trace out cause and effect in human psychology is unparalleled. Most of his conclusions are convincing, and even the ones that aren't are at least thought-provoking.

The main weakness of this book is its desultory style. The first seven of its eight chapters read like an anthology of things Freud was thinking about this week, very loosely themed around the source...more
Amy
Much of what Freud has to say in this book would be different had he done his thinking/writing with the knowledge that the field of psychology now possesses. For example, he talks at length about cleanliness and a decrease in the reliance of olfactory cues in sexual relations among humans, although today there is compelling evidence that olfactory cues play a major role in sexual behavior (see Geoffrey Miller's work). Also, Freud's work was coming just at the heels of Darwin's revolutionary theo...more
Ignacio Irulegui
Aplicando las herramientas que implementa el psicoanálisis, Freud lleva a cabo un elaborado diagnóstico de la cultura humana sobre cómo ésta aglomera a los individuos generándoles un malestar que es inherente a la propia idea de cultura, cuya naturaleza resulta paradojal: al tiempo que augura el progreso, reprime al individuo en la serie de normas que la regulan.
Freud conduce al lector a través de su periplo clínico con una prosa literaria que cede lugar en algunos instantes a la jerga psicoaná...more
Matthew W
Being a Judaic, Freud was an outsider to Occidental civilization and he certainly was discontent (or more like, despised it) with it. Freud added an extra sentence to the conclusion of this book years after it was originally published in fear of Uncle Adolf and his Aryans which gives this book an extra comedic ending.

If you're European or of European descent, read C.G. Jung's masterpiece Modern Man in Search of a Soul instead of this slim book.

Freud is a tool used by culture-distorters and his...more
Hesper
First, Sigmund Freud, you are a gas. You should have written comedy. I'd pay to see that.

Second, no matter how dated this material may be, and it is, reading it is a lot like the equivalent of getting enough fiber in your diet. This is how that works: read this book, and you'll have a much easier time processing the early 20th century.

Third, there might be a better analogy out there, but I haven't been able to find it yet.
Stacie
I read this in undergrad, and decided I wanted to do a re-read. As dated as it seems, it doesn't really seem all that dated.
Jafar
The price that we pay for the comforts of civilization is our happiness.
Nick Anderson
Skip to the last 2 chapters of Civilization and it's Discontents for the summary. Freud is remarkably consistent in his worldview throughout psychology, religion, and politics. Here he takes his grand theory of everything to its latest manifestation, society. Society is a thing actively created, the original German title called it kultur, which derives from Latin cultus, to cultivate. Civilization is defined as what isn't natural, yet unlike a kingdom of God or a supernatural realm it is imperfe...more
Christian Schwoerke
I had read this book 40 years ago, and my memory of it was that it was a profound book, easy to read and understand, though I only recalled that its conclusion was negative, that there was no reconciling society's demands and the individual's needs, that society was essentially restrictive and neurotic. In this re-reading I found the going tougher than I recalled, especially as regards the psychological principles he had devised.

Freud wrote this in 1930 as a very old man, and he waxes philosophi...more
§--
I've done a lot of reading about Freud, but I had never read him in his own words before. This was, perhaps, not the best place to start, as it is not a scientific work but a philosophical one in the tradition of Hobbes and Rousseau, both of whom I loved when I first read them as a teenager. This text may represent the breadth of Freud's thought more fully than his scientific work, but it simply isn't as respected as, for example, his analyses of certain celebrities.

I do believe Freud was a gen...more
Stela
Undoubtedly, Sigmund Freud is a classic. Consequently, he shares the fate of any classic: everybody knows of and few read him anymore. After all, what is to discover we didn’t already learn? That he explained every evil or deviation in human behaviour by some repressed sexual urges generated mainly by the Oedipal complex. That he founded the science of psychoanalysis, but many of his theories and methods are obsolete today. That he influenced the Modernist movement, especially regarding some fam...more
Bob Nichols
Remove many of the sexual references and Freud provides a fairly good picture about who we are. We seek pleasure (broadly construed, driven by id-like needs). We meet society that tells us we can't have what we want (superego), and ego mediates between who we are and who society wants (needs?) us to be. Civilization expects individuals to restrict themselves and we suffer from discontent when we can't or don't want to do that.

If id is too strong, or if the ego is too weak, or if the super ego is...more
Christopher Rex
Freud was certainly an interesting dude and very ahead of his time in many ways. Basically, he is arguing that society/civilization inhibits our psychological and physical freedoms by imposing all sorts of "guilt complexes" upon us (especially for sexual behavior). The Church is central to this "guilt complex" (but certainly not alone) and we pay a huge psychological burden as a result. The "trade-off" of living in large, organized society is that we have to give up some of our freedoms and that...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Freud as a scientist of the mind has long been regarded as a failure but as commentator on the human condition he is excellent. That is probably why his theories of the unconscious and the libido and the death drive have migrated from psychology to the English department. Freud's theories on human motivation make intuitive sense to many lay observers no matter how discredited psycho-analysis is in the scientific community and why his theories held sway among so many for a time.
In "Civilization...more
Bogdan Liviu
despre inutilitatea cartilor si in genere a culturii in fata aviditatii de agresivitatie si impulsul spre distrugere prezente in structura fiecarui individ in parte. cultura e doar o unealta prin care suprimam omul primitiv, necrutator si barbar din fiecare din noi. "Oamenii care nu citesc sunt brute", constata cu o aroganta indecenta Eugene Ionesco. Da, intr-adevar sunt brute cei care nu citesc, insa si cei care o fac sunt - in strafundul structurii lor neslefuite de cultura - la fel de brute....more
Leajk
Well, I the most prominent thing I remember about the book is that it was a quick read.

I have very little patience for psychoanalysis (that is I care for neither Freud nor Jung), so I read this book since it was suppose to be one of Freud's atheist books. As regards to that I remember some rather crude, although somehow half-convincing arguments about toteem poles. That's the thing about Freud though I suppose, he has the gift to sound very convincing even when what he's saying is absolute bs.

M...more
Arjun Ravichandran
A penetrating (no pun intended) masterpiece of pessimism, by that great seer of the human soul, written in his depressed and fed-up old age. Civilization is always a compromise between our instincts for freedom (in all senses of the world) and the need for order that will at least guarantee some measure of human flourishing. Thus, civilization (for the individual human being) necessarily involves pain, sacrifice and neurosis. To put it in Freud's language, there is always going to be a tension b...more
Anastasia Paveloff
If you want to learn how to write, read Mr. Freud (even in translation). He was a true phenom, with regard to his exquisite idiom and syntax and grammatical constructions. As for the actual content of his writing, though, I am mixed. I am more Jungian, in my approach to psychoanalysis; however, this book is an absolute classic for what it is: the major progenitor of psycho-dynamic therapy and the seminal guide to partially (mis)understanding the modern, human condition. In the end, I was gratefu...more
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CHAPTER 3 6 125 Jul 25, 2013 02:02AM  
  • Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud
  • Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (Seminar of Jacques Lacan)
  • The Sublime Object of Ideology
  • Studies in Hysteria
  • Modern Man in Search of a Soul
  • On the Genealogy of Morals/Ecce Homo
  • Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason
  • Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil
  • Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left
  • The Principles of Psychology, Volume 1
  • The Sickness Unto Death (Kierkegaard's Writings, Vol 19)
  • The Marx-Engels Reader
  • The Christians and the Fall of Rome (Great Ideas)
  • Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
  • Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
  • Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History
10017
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was a physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and influential thinker of the early twentieth century. Working initially in close collaboration with Joseph Breuer, Freud elaborated the theory that the mind is a complex energy-system, the structural investigation of which is the proper province of psychology. He articulated and refined the concepts of...more
More about Sigmund Freud...
The Interpretation of Dreams The Ego and the Id Totem and Taboo Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis The Future of an Illusion (The Standard Edition)  (Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud)

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“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” 709 likes
“It sounds like a fairy-tale, but not only that; this story of what man by his science and practical inventions has achieved on this earth, where he first appeared as a weakly member of the animal kingdom, and on which each individual of his species must ever again appear as a helpless infant... is a direct fulfilment of all, or of most, of the dearest wishes in his fairy-tales. All these possessions he has acquired through culture. Long ago he formed an ideal conception of omnipotence and omniscience which he embodied in his gods. Whatever seemed unattainable to his desires - or forbidden to him - he attributed to these gods. One may say, therefore, that these gods were the ideals of his culture. Now he has himself approached very near to realizing this ideal, he has nearly become a god himself. But only, it is true, in the way that ideals are usually realized in the general experience of humanity. Not completely; in some respects not at all, in others only by halves. Man has become a god by means of artificial limbs, so to speak, quite magnificent when equipped with all his accessory organs; but they do not grow on him and they still give him trouble at times... Future ages will produce further great advances in this realm of culture, probably inconceivable now, and will increase man's likeness to a god still more.” 307 likes
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