Thursday, September 3, 2015

Quote of the day: Freud

I had remembered Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents (orig. pub. 1930; Norton paperback, 1961, trans. and ed. J. Strachey) mainly for its emphasis on humans' (supposedly) innate aggressiveness and for its well-known thesis that 'civilization' is in conflict with 'instinct' and requires significant control of and renunciation of 'instinctual' behavior.  A recent glance at the text, which I hadn't read in decades, suggests that these rather grim themes are occasionally handled with a bit of what at least might pass for humor, as shown by this excerpt from a long footnote in chap. 4, pp.52-3:
Sex is a biological fact which, although it is of extraordinary importance in mental life, is hard to grasp psychologically.... The theory of bisexuality is still surrounded by many obscurities and we cannot but feel it as a serious impediment in psychoanalysis that it has not yet found any link with the theory of the instincts.... Another difficulty arises from the circumstance that there is so often associated with the erotic relationship, over and above its own sadistic components, a quota of plain inclination to aggression.  The love-object will not always view these complications with the degree of understanding and tolerance shown by the peasant woman who complained that her husband did not love her any more, since he had not beaten her for a week.

No comments: