HUMN 221               Professor Easton

Freudian terminology

the unconscious—the vast, unknowable, unexaminable part of the mind (which Freud calls a "dynamic structure" in conflict with itself).  The unconscious is much larger than consciousness.  Like an excavated city, the history of a body's skeleton, or an evolutionary descendent of a dinosaur (see Civilization and its Discontents, ch. 1 ), the unconscious is timeless.  Its past and present exist simultaneously.

censorship—the means of keeping unpleasant (or unsociable) desires out of consciousness.  Censorship is circumvented through dreams, parapraxes (or "slips of the tongue"), word association, and figures of speech.

repression—a way of dealing with painful or unsociable desires; they are relocated in the unconscious where they indirectly continue to influence daily life and dreams.  Some recent believers in "Recovered Memory Syndrome" claim they base their theory on Freud's notion of repression (e.g., RMS suggests that patients in therapy might suddenly remember that they were molested as children).  Freudian scholars, however, point out that Freud does not talk about repression of events  but rather of thoughts and desires.

transference—the emotional relationship formed between the patient and the analyst; "falling in love" with the analyst, or temporarily substituting the analyst for the object of desire, etc.

libido—vital impulse or energy;  often, sexual desire.  Often this word is found in its adjectival form.  "Libidinal energy" is that which propels an "object instinct" like sexual desire.  In C&D, Freud discusses an "economics of the libido"—diversifying one's libidinal "portfolio."  To Freud "attachments of affection" are "libidinal ties," thought possibly aim-inhibited.

instinct or drive—innate and biological urge that seeks satisfaction in objects.  E.g., one might have an "instinctual" desire for food or sex.  In Civilization and its Discontents, Freud says, "Civilization . . . presupposes the non-satisfaction . . . of powerful instincts" (end of Ch. 3).  This means that in order for "civilization" to develop, people must repress their drives.

infantile sexuality—Freud's insistence that sexuality does not begin with adolescence, that babies are sexual, too.

bisexuality—Freud contends that all human beings are both physiologically and psychologically bisexual, although most people repress one part of their sexuality or another.

neurosis—disorder of personality resulting from the denial of an instinctual urge.  Unable to tolerate the frustrations of the restrictions civilization places on sexual life, the neurotic "substitutes" satisfactions, which are manifested as "symptoms."  Such symptoms might be physical tics, pain, odd postures, illnesses (e.g., coughing), or acute manifestations of anxiety.

OOPS!  If you become neurotic by denying instinct, and the development of civilization depends on the denial of instinct, does that mean civilization creates—and depends on!—neurosis?

ego ("I" or "Ich"), id ("it" or "Es"), super-ego ("over-I" or "Über-ich")—The id is the seat of desire and instinct.  It is totally unconscious.  The ego, which is mostly conscious, begins as an "undifferentiated" psychic structure.  When a child learns to distinguish between itself ("I") and the objects it desires ("other"), the ego develops as a structure separate from the id.  This separation results from early disappointments—when our desires are not fulfilled.  When Freud refers to the ego, he is talking about our conscious self of who we are.  The super-ego is internalized self-criticism, an internalization of the voice of the father or authority.  The size of the super-ego is not related to the force of the authority figures one has experienced; the super-ego strengthens in proportion to the aggression directed against it.  C&D, ch. 7: "The super-ego torments the sinful ego with the same feeling of anxiety and is on the watch for opportunities of getting it punished by the external world."

sublimation—literally, "raising up" (toward the "sublime").  Freud discusses "sublimation" as a process of redirecting psychical energy from ego-desire (e.g., sexual gratification) to the satisfaction of cultural aims (e.g., work, art, politics).  C&D, ch. 4: "[C]ivilization is obeying the laws of economic necessity, since a large amount of the psychical energy which it uses for its own purposes has to be withdrawn from sexuality."

Ideal demands—the requirements of civilization to live in a way that will contribute to the "perfect" functioning of civilization.  E.g., "Love thy neighbor as thy self" or "Love thy enemies."  Ideal demands are antagonistic to sexuality (Eros) and aggression (Thanatos).

Eros and Thanatos—Freud identifies two drives that both coincide and conflict within the individual and among individuals.  Eros is the drive of life, love, creativity, and sexuality, self-satisfaction, and species preservation.  Thanatos, from the Greek word for "death" is the drive of aggression, sadism, destruction, violence, and death.  At the conclusion of C&D, Freud notes (in 1930-31) that human beings, following Thanatos, have invented the tools to completely exterminate themselves; in turn, Eros is expected to "make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with an equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result?"

In Civilization and its Discontents, Freud struggles with paradoxes:

1.     Human behavior is motivated by a desire for happiness ("satisfaction of needs").  Humans bond together to promote happiness.  This bonding or "civilization" works against individual happiness.

2.     Although civilization prevents happiness, it is necessary for human life.

3.     In order for civilizations to be coherent, they channel their aggression toward scapegoats (those excluded from the coherence), but with little effect: "In this respect the Jewish people, scattered everywhere, have rendered most useful services to the civilizations of the countries that have been their hosts; but unfortunately all the massacres of the Jews in the Middle Ages did not suffice to make that period more peaceful and secure for their Christian fellows" (C&D, ch. 5)