“An Outline of Psychoanalysis” by Sigmund Freud (1993)

“Impeded aggression seems to mean severe damage; it really looks as if we have to destroy other things and people in order to avoid destroying ourselves, in order to protect ourselves of our self-self-destructive tendency. Undoubtedly a sad revelation for the moralist!”

To be honest, the first three chapters of this book was so teleological in approach or ignorant of alternative resolutions, that I seriously contemplated stopping reading - significant, since I have become quite religious about finishing books.

At times it would seems Freud stretches his theories so wide that they begin to tear. To name a couple of examples, his theories about the female ‘penis envy’ and exploration into telepathy seems pretty nonsensical to me.

Yet the hours I spent reading this book was definitely not wasted. Even when Freud appears to be wrong, he is wrong in such an interesting way that it still outlines value.

To give an example, Freud condenses human psyche into two major drives: the self-preservation and the species-preservation. As Freud expatiate the latter drive wish to establish and maintain order, whilst the former wants to fornicate, eliminate threats and acquire resources. In the dialect between these two drives, species-preservation turns into a death-drive, (todestrieb) and self-preservation turns into Eros.

This is a quite neat and logical assumption. Our inclination to aggression, versus the superego of society, urges us to suppress our violent tendencies. If we cannot expression aggression outwards, we will express it inwards. 

This argument makes sense, if one discount how monotheistic the theory is. Obviously, you cannot take a system as complex as the human motivation and condense it all to a singular cause. It sounds plausible because human action is made by some odd mixture of drives, thus there will naturally be a correlation between singular causes and actions. Yet the desire for singular causes is not the attempt to explain, it’s the attempt to reduce. Thus you will never get further than a half-baked theory that cannot stand the scrutiny of ample analysis.