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Freud and Religion - Research Paper Example

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One of these ways, and the only method by which Freud appears to think provides any sense of contentment, is found in the area of religion. This ultimately provides further evidence as to why true happiness can never really be obtained. For people who are not completely engrossed in a religious pursuit and even for persons who are, the failure to find happiness leads to a number of methods whereby people seek to at least circumvent pain. Sooner or later, if at all, Freud believes people discover that love is the answer to their quest for happiness. When this fails, as it unfortunately does for too many, people try to control their social lives through a assortment of means and then ultimately come to recognize that unhappiness and guilt are pervasive and they again look for the answers they did not find in religion. This cycle of futile searches for happiness is addressed throughout Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontent. Freud proposes that the very underpinnings of civilization and systematic factions such as religions are found within the multifaceted development of a person. In his effort to clarify the ‘oceanic’ sensation of limitless bond felt with all of humanity illustrated by a friend of Freud’s, which possibly supplies the foundation of religious affiliation, he investigates the development of the ego as it transforms from the baby to the adult. According to Freud, the infantile ego makes understands little difference between what is external to the infant and what is external to it. By continually adjusting to its knowledge of what is internal as it starts to differentiate those characteristics of itself that are internal as opposed to those characteristics that are external entities, the person begins to reduce their field, developing a sense of what they are by defining what they are not. However, they may also maintain some feature of that greater association felt as an infant, thus explaining, plausibly, this ‘oceanic’ feeling of limitlessness and a connection with the universe (Freud, 1930: 19-22). While Freud cannot completely appreciate this sensation himself, he suggests that it is the infant’s want for security that leads them to identify this common feeling of the concept that an all-knowing and unseen Father figure protecting for his children below. “Life, as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains, disappointments and impossible tasks” (Freud, 1930: 22). To emotionally handle this, people seek out other means of distracting themselves from their perceived unhappiness, for example, discovering a purpose for their existence. Freud states that, in addition to the oceanic sensation of association, the question concerning the meaning of life, a question that continues to be wondered by all persons of all periods of time, is only understood to be answered adequately to those persons who believe in religion. To guarantee a lifetime of happiness, Freud proposes people utilize many different methods of fulfilling pleasure while attempting to disregard reality. Freud’s ‘pleasure principle’ refers to the requirement felt by all persons to meet needs instantly. “Just picture the hungry infant, screaming itself blue. It doesn’t ‘know’ what it wants in any adult sense; it just knows that it wants it and it wants it now” (Boeree, 2006). This continual pursuit of happiness and escape from anguish introduces a variety of means and strategies whereby the person might seek to circumvent sorrow and seek pleasure including inclusion, isolation and in the dulling of the senses. The senses are dulled through a variety means, including intoxicants, the suppressing of instinctual desires for many activities or a ...Show more
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Summary

The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, in his book Civilization and Its Discontent, maintains it is an indisputable fact that achieving happiness not possible. In spite of this, Freud says people use many ultimately ineffective strategies to compensate for this reality…
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