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Discuss the relationship between love and aggressivity in Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents - Essay Example

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Discuss the relationship between love and aggressivity in Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents

Finally, Freud deploys his concepts of love and aggression to show that civilized societies are bound to fail: they place restrictions on our natural sentiments of love and aggressiveness which are in many cases insupportable - in particular, he criticises societies founded on the Christian principle of love, and those founded on communist ideas.
Freud's discussion of the origins of our aggressiveness show how strongly it is related to love, as he conceives it. The initial aggressive sentiment is directed inwards, at the child's own ego, Freud claims, due to a frustration of the desires of the child's ego. This 'introjected' aggressive impulse results in the formation of the super-ego, and so the initiation of feelings of guilt. For example, when a child is forbade by a parent to do something which is desired by his ego, he initially feels aggressiveness towards that parent as a result of the frustration of his desires. However, since aggressiveness cannot be directed towards the parent, it is directed at the ego, the source of the frustrated desire. Why can aggressiveness not be directed at a parent (or another figure of authority) Here, Freud shows how essential he believes the concept of love to be to the formation of aggressive impulses: the child directs aggressiveness towards his own ego rather than towards the figure of authority because of a "fear of loss of love" (p. 757). Thus, the need for love is instrumental in the formation of the super-ego, which results in aggressive impulses directed at the ego: self-hating feelings of guilt.
In situations where aggressiveness is in fact directed towards the figure of authority, and not introjected, love is still essential to the changes in the individual's psychological make-up. Freud claims that this would only happen in situations involving the Oedipus complex: that is, when sons kill their fathers. This supposedly was a more common occurrence in earlier societies which were less bound by 'civilizing' restrictions. Here, the actual aggression involved in killing the father results in a feeling of remorse at the action: this is because of the love that the son naturally has for his father. Hence, for Freud, the origins of feelings of aggression are always bound up with feelings of love. However, it is not obvious that non-repressed aggression need always be followed by feelings of remorse. As stated above, Freud believes that the only cases of actual aggression by a child will be from a son to his father, and, since this relationship necessarily involves some love, remorse is a necessary consequence. However, it is not clear that son-to-father aggression would be the only case of actual aggression from a child to a figure of authority - a child may show aggression towards a teacher or minder, for example - and if aggression is directed at others, there may not be a necessary bond of love from the child to these people, so remorse may not be a necessary consequence. Freud's assumption is that a child's initial authoritative influence will be from his father, so it is towards the father that initial aggression (suppressed or not) will be directed. Whilst this assumption ...Show more


Love and aggressiveness are very closely related in Freud's conception of a person's social interactions. Both allow the individual to satisfy the desires of his ego: love-relationships provide satisfaction of desires either through sexual satisfaction, or (in friendships) through aid to achieve the individual's aims; aggressiveness towards other people allows the individual to satisfy the desires of his ego undisturbed by competition from others…
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Discuss the relationship between love and aggressivity in Freuds Civilization and Its Discontents
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