Sigmund Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents” establishes the development of civilization through analyzing individuals where they live in a threatening world and seek ways to gain pleasure and prevent pain. Freud believes that civilization’s formation is similar to the formation of an individual. Human beings are divided into three parts: superego, ego and the Id in which each one is trying to rule against the individual. In order for human beings to create the greatest amount of happiness and prevent pain they join together with other humans and create civilization. Thus, Freud explains that human beings give up certain features of their ego interests to join with others in which results in a civilization.
According to Freud, the superego is a representation of one’s conscience because it distinctively portrays what is right or wrong. The superego voices and regulates the intentions and actions of the ego. It also consumes most of society’s rules and expectations of the ideal life in which it targets perfection. The superego can cause one of the greatest punishments to humans: guilt. Freud believes that guilt is the result of an individual’s failure. The superego is the most aggressive actor in a civilization. It causes an individual unhappiness because it sets high demands that the individual may not be able to meet. Thus, Freud implies the irony behind individual’s purpose of creating civilization. Civilizations are created to guard human beings from unhappiness, but it seems to be individual’s biggest source of unhappiness because it sets very high expectations and their instincts are not always met.
Sigmund Freud refers to the ego as a representation of the individual’s self as a person, “his perceptions, thoughts and feelings”. The ego allows an individual to be able to distinct the outside world from the inside world as to what is real. Freud associates the ego with an “oceanic” feeling of oneness with the world. The ego’s role is to separate from pain and displeasure created by the outside world or to simply identify a reality apart from itself. It also creates an idea of what is common sense and logic. One’s ego is a presentation of their image to the world. According to Freud, the ego is responsible for creating civilization because individuals give up parts of their ego such