Archive for the ‘Psychology’ Category

Poem: Guilt

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Psychology

Missing image

I sit here in an unseen cell,
shrouded in the darkness I call hell.
My mind and soul always doing time
for what now seems an age old crime.

I am guilty there is no doubt,
what will a confession bring about?.
Always looking for more lies,
with you there is no compromise.

No truer words have ever been spoken,
I understand at one time I left you broken.
For the time you did was hard but short,
I can never redeem myself before this court.

I am sorry

Via Llama on All Poetry

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smok...

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Apart from fornicating, people also had to work, that is, indulge in other activities out of necessity. For example, they had to provide food and shelter for themselves and their young. People realized that work was more efficient if it was shared between people, so people begun to work with each other. So, human societies expanded not only to include a man and his family, but a man, his family and everyone he worked with. The various societies had overlapping members, thus, a net of interconnected societies, or human civilization, was formed.

It seems that civilization is a product of people trying to make themselves happy through efficient work and sexual satisfaction. So Freud is astonished when he comes to the conclusion that civilization makes us unhappy because the purpose of civilization was to do the complete opposite. What went wrong?

Freud thinks that his initial model of civilization was too simplistic. It was not complete because his idea of human nature was not complete. Apart from Eros, we have another fundamental drive, the death instinct or the desire for violence and destruction. If this aggression were allowed to be freely expressed then we would not be able to live and work together harmoniously – our desire for violence would outshine our desire for productivity.

So, in order to exist, civilization had to come up with a way of countering the death instinct. This was done by inventing the concept of “friendship” or non-sexual, emotional relationships. Since, according to Freud, all affection comes from Eros, caring about friends means that some part of our libidinal energy is being directed towards them. However, the platonic nature of friendship necessarily implies the sexual energy directed towards our friends is always unsatisfied. So, being friends with people around us not only suppresses our aggression but also makes it impossible for our libido to be fulfilled.

Suppression of our sexual and aggressive urges leads to the formation of a superego. This is our conscience, it is our aggression redirected towards ourselves. The superego internalizes values of the external authority and punishes us for having thoughts contrary to these internalized values. The punishment is our feeling of guilt, the source of our unhappiness.

According to the model of human nature Freud provides us, suppression, guilt and unhappiness seems to be an inevitable consequence of human civilization. However, theoretically, civilization should only demand the minimum suppression required for cohabitation. Religion, on the other hand, demands a lot more.

Freud takes the God of monotheistic religions to be an exaggerated father figure. Not only does He protect us, guide us, promise us rewards for obedience and punishments for disobedience just like our real fathers, He also provides us with things that our real fathers never could. He demystifies death, He gives purpose to life and He points towards an escape from all the guilt and misery of life. However, God’s blessings come with a price; His protection traps us in an infantile, dependant frame of mind. It restricts the development of our courage to face reality alone. His rules and his answers to the meaning of life rob us of our individuality, they turn our multi faceted, multi colored race into a two dimensional chessboard of black and white. We are no longer free to discover and explore our own purpose, our path to happiness (despite the necessary guilt imposed on us by society). The moment God’s demands exceed what is necessary for communal living, He is asking us to renounce more than we need to, He is asking us to suppress more than we need to, He is making us feel guiltier than we need to.