Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
:
Login
Tip: To search for text within the article you are viewing…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

You can use the search tool of your web browser to perform an additional search within the current article (the one you are viewing). Simply press Ctrl + F on a Windows computer, or Command + F if you are using an Apple computer.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Burston, D. (2017). Wooden Ships: Cultural Cohesion and Continuity in Freud and Erikson. Free Associations, 18(2):18-26.

(2017). Free Associations, 18(2):18-26

Wooden Ships: Cultural Cohesion and Continuity in Freud and Erikson

Daniel Burston

What holds cultural communities together, especially in times of crisis? And what causes them to fragment sometimes, even when they enjoy material prosperity? These are not idle questions. In The Future of An Illusion (Freud, 1927) and Civilization and Its Discontents (Freud, 1930) Freud drew attention to the forces that disrupt or destroy cultural cohesion, including our supposedly innate propensities to incest and homicide, our natural disinclination for work, and our eagerness to enslave or objectify others. According to Freud, the intrapsychic forces that normally prevent these impulses from surfacing or being acted on are anchored in a kind of social contract, in which participants yield a significant portion of their freedom to follow their spontaneous inclinations and desires in exchange for guarantees of security and freedom from violence in turn (Freud, 1930.)

This collective renunciation of aggressive instincts is supported, said Freud, by a ‘cultural super-ego’ that intervenes to punish transgressions and enforce the laws impersonally, ostensibly for everyone's benefit (Freud, 1927), and by the secondary transformation of our raw, instinctual desires via sublimation and ‘aim-inhibited’ Eros, resulting in strong interpersonal and institutional bonds, the glue or cement that presumably holds a family and a culture together, and holds the individual's aggressive drives in check (Freud, 1930.) Though no fan of democracy himself, Freud nevertheless allowed that the social stability engendered by these ‘civilizing’ trends are endangered by stark economic inequalities, which afford the ruling elite far more opportunities for instinctual satisfaction and the sublimation of the drives than commoners enjoy.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the article. PEP-Web provides full-text search of the complete articles for current and archive content, but only the abstracts are displayed for current content, due to contractual obligations with the journal publishers. For details on how to read the full text of 2016 and more current articles see the publishers official website here.]

Copyright © 2019, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.