Civilization and Its Discontents

Historical context

This work should be also understood in context of contemporary events: World War I undoubtedly influenced Freud and had an impact on his central observation about the tension between the individual and civilization. Amidst a nation still recovering from a brutally violent war, Freud developed thoughts published two years earlier in The Future of an Illusion (1927), wherein he criticized organized religion as a collective neurosis. Freud, an avowed atheist, argued that religion has tamed asocial instincts and created a sense of community around a shared set of beliefs, thus helping a civilization. Yet at the same time organized religion also exacts an enormous psychological cost to the individual by making him perpetually subordinate to the primal father figure embodied by God.[9]

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