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KRONOS Vol IV, No. 4
NEW DIMENSIONS. . .
GROUP MIND IN DEVELOPMENT (HEGEL AND FREUD)
This is the first in a series of three articles dealing with the general theme of the Hegelian sources of Freud's social and political philosophy. Freud's intellectual achievement has long been recognized for its pervasive influence on modern thought and for its own intrinsic greatness. Yet, it has been difficult to know how to approach and comprehend the Freudian corpus as a whole. Freud's works stretch between the clinical aspects of psychoanalysis and the philosophical speculations of metapsychology, and it is often difficult to pinpoint their interconnections. Moreover, regarding the latter (the philosophical aspects - and the socio-political ideas in particular), what we are often confronted with are scattered and highly suggestive speculations which Freud never organized into a systematic and comprehensive whole. What we need, then, is on the one hand, to create this systematic unification of Freud's social and political ideas; and, on the other, to discover that model and paradigm and those covert philosophical pre-suppositions upon which such a systematic unification and interpretation is based. It will be argued that we can find the source of this paradigm and these pre-suppositions in the philosophy of Hegel.
Thus, in the first article below I attempt to elucidate Freud's social and political theory in terms of his analysis of the group mind and its development what I call Freud's "phylogenic and ethnogenic dialectic". By this is meant the historically regenerative and interacting origination and growth of mankind in civilization - both as a world-historical and universal whole and as a discrete instance (whether a prototype, archetype, or example) of such development. Since, however, the full exposition and comprehension of this social and political theory of Freud's requires reference to Hegelian concepts and parallels and to Freud's own "ontogenic dialectic" (i.e., the origination and growth of the individual - personal self-consciousness as a microcosm and basis of civilization as a socio-political construct), it then becomes necessary to investigate each of these sources in turn.
Hence, the second article in this series - "The Inherent Origins of the State (Hegel and Freud)" - will present an exposition of Hegel's social and political philosophy and will attempt to show in what ultimate respects and conclusions his views may or may not coincide with Freud's.
The last article - "Self-Consciousness as the Hegelian Source of the World View in Freud" - argues first that Hegel's philosophy (and no other) is in fact the appropriate progenitor of Freud's and, second, that the ultimate subject and common paradigm of all their common philosophical speculations is the movement to self-consciousness of the individual mind.
For Freud, the self-conscious growth of the individual from birth to death has its counterpart in the self-conscious growth of a given culture from its birth to death - each exhibiting specific character traits and each overcoming yet retaining earlier stages or phases. At the same time, the whole history of mankind's collective growth as homo sapiens can be seen in terms of an historical progression of various cultures, one building upon the preceding, yet retaining its earlier institutions. Finally, since in each individual, Freud believes, the id "contains everything that is inherited''(1) (i.e., there is a genetic transmission of acquired characteristics and archaic memories), the whole progress of mankind itself and of the particular stages of civilization potentially recurs within both each civilization and each individual.
The "bearer" of the phylogenic dialectic, then, cannot be the individual consciousness but the collective consciousness or mind of humanity, the equivalent of Hegel's Spirit. As Freud clearly states in his Totem and Taboo:
And again, in Moses and Monotheism, Freud writes, "We must conclude that the mental residue of those primeval times has become a heritage which with each new generation needs only to be awakened, not to be reacquired."(3) Thus, "the primitive mind is, in the fullest meaning of the word, imperishable."(4)
The whole structure here is an evident recasting of the Hegelian scheme of the "education" of consciousness through interprojection, duplication, and accumulation of smaller stages within greater by the supersession and retention of the prior, such that essence and origin are transformed each into the other. If we understand "ontogeny" as the origination and growth of the individual person and "ethnogeny" as the origination and growth of the individual culture or state, then "phylogeny, " the origination and growth of both mankind and civilization overall, is inextricably conjoined with them in Freud as in Hegel. Of course, as we shall point out later, there are important differences between Freud and Hegel which result in differences in their evaluative conclusions regarding civilization, not the least of which of relevance here is that Freud, bound in a large degree to a scientific (i.e., positivistic) view of reality, is reluctant to view the total subject of his dialectic as Being as such. That is, ontogeny and phylogeny are not finally recapitulated in cosmogeny.(5) Yet for Freud as for Hegel, man becomes civilized in civilization and civilization becomes humanized through man, though the logical direction of the analysis is from the individual to the collective mind.
Let us now look at Freud's analysis of the historical evolution of civilization - state and society.
The process begins, as it does in Hegel, with the family. This is Freud's immediate, natural, and ever-permanent "state," a concrete and unchanging situation into which we are born, and corresponding to the first stage of Hegel's Sittlichkeit.* The primary historical hypothesis in the ethnogenic dialectic is the primal horde. It is from this thesis and its sublation** that all phylogenic evolution proceeds. The primal father of this horde was free and his acts strong and independent. With few libidinal ties, loving no one but himself and giving to objects no more than was barely necessary, he dominated and finally exiled all other males (his sons) and possessed all females. "He, at the very beginning of the history of mankind, was the 'superman' whom Nietzsche only expected from the future."(6) Out of this familial condition emerges a revolt on the part of the brothers, who "killed and devoured their father and so made an end of the patriarchal horde."(7) By their devouring of him they succeeded in achieving, in external and objective form, their prior subjective identification.
From this state of affairs, the second stage of the phylogenic dialectic, there arose the question of the new relation of the brothers to each other and to the females. Perhaps even before the parricide and in their exile a group consciousness had evolved between them, as Freud speculates:
Freud in fact speculates that democracy has its psychological source in homosexuality and that its religio-political bias is therefore essentially matriarchal.(9)
But, in any case, the question now arose of the arbitrary dispositions of their new-won freedom as independent individuals. Here emerges in the socio-political sphere of Freud's ethnogenic and phylogenic dialectic the stage paralleling Hegel's civil society (or, as it appears in Hegel's philosophy of history, the ancient Greek city state). Mutual restrictions for the maintenance of order codified in institutions and rules which re-impose the instinctual renunciation demanded by the father are accepted so long as they are imposed equally and contractually specified. This is the origin of justice - as Freud defines it - the assurance of the rule of law to which all have contributed by a mutual sacrifice of their instincts.(10) Theoretically, then, the "liberty" of the individual was greatest outside civilization. (Although Freud no more believes in the reality or value of such abstract freedom in an impossible "state of Nature" than does Hegel.)
The individuals, now forced to identify with each other, are directed towards this end by such maxims of civilization as the "golden rule" and such philosophical justifications as the Kantian "categorical imperative". Freud notes that, in fact, this identification of each individual with the other is easily seen in the communal or group feeling among school children, whose ''first demand made by this reaction formation is for justice, for equal treatment of all.''(11) The ethical norm thus becomes in principle the fair and equal and, in fact, the commensurable norm. This is the sole basis of social adjudication: "All our social institutions are cut to the pattern of people with a unified, normal ego, which one can classify as good or bad. . . . responsible or not responsible.''(12) The organic and psychic origins of civilization are now to be found in Eros and Ananke:
Reason dictates a program of security for the equal share both of labor and of instinctual renunciation and satisfaction.(14) This is the democratic and liberal component of Freud's social and political philosophy. It is his Enlightenment heritage. But just as in Hegel, it is seen to be - though both an historical reconstruction and a permanent and immanent condition - but a stage or level of the total account of the state.
Reason, guided by enlightened self-interest, appears on the conscious level to guide the construction of our social and political affairs. Yet behind and beyond this there lies a higher level of the operation of the dialectic - in the form of our own (individual and collective) "inconquerable psychic nature.''(15) Neither sexual needs nor the demands of labor and self-preservation are sufficient to bind men into a community. In fact, "sexual desires do not unite men but divide them.''(16) Labor, which, it is true, more than any other activity "attaches the individual so firmly to reality. . . . and gives him a secure place in a portion of reality, in the human community,''(17) nevertheless, is never prized in itself and is rather experienced as an imposition by civilization. Therefore, "necessity alone, the advantages of work in common, will not hold them together.''(18) As Roazen put it, "what initially held society together, Freud thought, was a utilitarian covenant that instinctual renunciation was preferable to anarchy. . . . But the inadequacies of the 'covenant' as an explanatory concept of social cohesion soon became evident to Freud as to us.''(19) And, we may add, as they had previously become evident to Hegel.
The ineluctable forces of psychic development proceed, therefore, almost at once to instill a higher level of social and political bond. This is the third and last stage of the phylogenic dialectic. The identification of individuals, each with the other, is only possible because originally they all identified with and had the primal father - "originally rivals, they have succeeded in identifying themselves with one another by means of a similar love for the same object. "(20) Freud's historical reconstruction proceeds as follows:
Though the sons hated their father,
Passing through the natural immediate state (grounded in the subjective familial bond) and thence through the external state (the rational contractual arrangement and coordination of the differentia of private persons in civil society), we now have come to the genesis of the state proper. For it is through the dialectical transformation of social consciousness described above, that both ethics and religion (the two pillars of the state) and the state itself (as the fullest expression of collective self-realization) first emerge.
Freud's examination of totemism and taboo is the basis of his argument. Thus, Freud claims, "totemism, the first form of religion of which we know, contains as an indispensible part of its system a number of laws and prohibitions which plainly mean nothing else but instinctual renunciation."(24) It "arose from the filial sense of guilt, in an attempt to allay that feeling and to appease the father by deferred obedience to him."(25) And the various taboos proscribed by the totem Freud sees as the phylogenic origin of morals: "taboo conscience is probably the earliest form in which the phenomenon of conscience is met with."(26)
Briefly, the results of this situation are as follows. The totem animal becomes the symbolic manifestation of the father and thus the killing or harming of actual animals of this species is forbidden and its idea apotheosized. While this special treatment allays the sense of guilt, this surrogate father in turn protects, loves, and indulges. At the same time, the frustrated resistance of Nature to the satisfaction of desire, the hardships of labor, and whatever may have been included under the category of "necessity" is now seen as just punishment for the original sin of parricide.(27) Exogamy, the renunciation (the denial of the fruits of the parricide) of all females within the family, the latter now defined in terms of the totem, becomes established. This perpetuates the original subservience to the primal father. Patriarchy is reinstituted.
In effect, the exigencies of Eros and Ananke and the program of satisfaction effecting the construction of civil society from a democratic standpoint (through the intervention of enlightened self-interest) appearing on the preceding level, are now both transformed and reinforced on the third level. Instinctual renunciation in the sphere of sexuality and labor is here dictated by the phylogenic dialectic of identification-remorse.
At the same time, the historical and cultural achievement of the second level is by no means abrogated and forgotten, but is "autgehoben" and institutionalized within the third, just as in the Hegelian scheme, where Civil Society is reconstituted within the State proper. As Freud puts it, the worshiping of the totem also includes
This negative moment in the dialectic finds its concrete expression in the tribal ritual feast, which
The ethical force of the communal meal is the symbolic ''confirmation of fellowship and mutual obligation."(30) The political force of this convocation and dissolution of prior restriction finds is parallel in the traditional democratic ideal of the cyclical convocation of "the people" or "estates" to whom absolute sovereignty is restored. It is then that the self-directed interests of the individual as individual are again re-awakened by the joy of this negative freedom. As Freud later puts it, when the totem or primal father has become spiritualized into the "ego ideal," since "the ego ideal comprises the sum of all the limitations to which the Ego has to acquiesce . . . the abrogation of the ideal would necessarily be a magnificent festival for the Ego.''(31)
Yet it is from the last stage that Freud's theory of the modern state and its ethnogenic and phylogenic origins comes into full focus as does its sources in the Hegelian scheme. Freud bases this view upon his psychological investigations of the group and its leader. The essentially ethnogenic and historical speculation of such works as Moses and Monotheism and Totem and Taboo form the foundation for the phylogenic psychology of the individual and group mind in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. The former works describe the dialectical relationship of the identity functions between individual and group in the prototype. What we are collectively shown there, on one level, is the individual as the son of the primal father's family, identifying with him, having that identity negated and transmuted into the brother consciousness of civil society, and finally a negating of that negation, by the introjection of the newly hypostatized father image (totem) of the group as a whole as his own self-image.
On another level, the primal father, himself undergoes the following transformations described by Freud: from natural first father, to symbolical totem animal, to spiritualized God (i.e., Jehovah/Christ - the ethical ground and ideal end in the sacred realm) and to concrete hero, priest, hereditary king (the flesh and blood personal embodiment of legitimated autonomy and temporal power in the secular realm). Thus, the Freudian dialectic - like the Hegelian - breaks down the father/brother/son distinction to such a degree that they become, in the end, inseparable identity relations. Finally, the group or community as a whole identifies itself: - first, as the clan delimited by the father and replaced by the totem; then as the "chosen" group, bearing the suffering and redemption in itself of the first act by which it made and had itself for itself; and, lastly, as the modern state, which is nothing but the more complex "spiritualization" of the preceding stages.(32)
Since our concern here is specifically socio-political rather than anthropological or religious, let us now look at Freud's analysis of the group mind. We shall find, in Freud's investigations of the dialectic of this group mind, a full psychological explanation for this identity in difference. This identity dialectic is a cohesive force which supersedes mere contractual adhesion, and "rationalizes" (in the Hegelian sense) all customs, laws, and institutions both public and private. It finally reconciles all opposition between the individual as private and as public - the ideal of the state. Freud's dialectic is meant to show how, in the historical evolution of society and the state, the individual's struggle for self-consciousness can find its resolution and satisfaction by showing how the phylogenic dialectic can "procure for the group precisely those features which were characteristic of the individual and which are extinguished in him by the formation of the group."(33) It is nothing less than a psychological account, within the ethnogenic dialectic, of Hegel's conception of the "world historical individual," and, simultaneously, within the phylogenic dialectic, of Hegel's conception of "the Crown" (the "last moment of individuality"), which supersedes all other authority by expressing the general will of Objective Spirit in subjective decision and becoming thereby the self-determining synthetic unity of the whole.
The Freudian equivalent for Hegel's "Crown" is the leader, the great man, the head of state, the one in whom each member of society has himself as his own. Freud says of him:
It is thus to be noted that (with its ground both in the archaic and prehistoric memories of the collective unconscious and in the personal recollections and fantasies of childhood) the position of the leader has both the attributes of an individuated objective personality and of a spiritualized idea or ideal (sacred or ethical). The leader becomes for each individual in corpore his own self and in mente his idea of that self. Because identity is the earliest and original form of emotional tie, in the group the individual regresses to this first form of self-possession:
Each individual within the group shares with his fellow group members aim-inhibited libidinal ties which are based on a common identification with the leader. Thus, they unite with each other and with the real person who is the common locus of their ideal being. All groups presuppose "there being a head - in the Catholic Church, in an army, the Commander-in-Chief - who loves all the individuals in the group with an equal love."(36) While a democratic strain is inherent in the notion that in the presence or respect of the leader all are equal, the leader himself transcends all limitation as the perfection of the group's aspirations.(37) Thus, in the group we find a "double tie" - "identity and putting the object in place of the ego-ideal. "(38)
Freud speaks of the leader essentially in terms of the "ego-ideal," a term for the aspirational rather than restrictive component of the super-ego or conscience. It is in terms of this concept that the notion of a "primary group" is defined: - "a number of individuals who have put one and the same object in place of their ego ideal and have consequently identified themselves with one another in their Ego. "(39) The ego ideal is loved "on account of the perfections which we have striven to reach for in our own Ego, and which we should now like to procure in this round-about way by means of satisfying our narcissism." Since the devotion of the ego to the abstract idea, the ego-ideal, can no longer be distinguished from the devotion to-the object, "the object has been put in place of the ego-ideal." This identification, Freud says, may be "described as 'fascination' or 'bondage'." The former he characterizes as an "enrichment" of the self with the properties of the object; and the latter is characterized as "impoverishment" of the self, by withdrawal of its own individual will and ends.(40)
Yet, to say that the leader is an object put in place of our own egoideal is not to say that he is not also the externalization of the inhibitive or restrictive structures of our own super-egos. Freud equally observes in every group a "desire to be ruled and oppressed and to fear its masters.''(41) Nor are we to think of the leader, as super-ego or as ego-ideal, as an external object which does not also replace the ego itself, for this is the point of the socio-political dialectic. The leader becomes the embodiment of the re-externalized ethical principles by which each self knows and measures itself in relation to every other self. He is the projection, focalization, concretization, and personification of these ethical principles, which in him merge and emerge out of their "abstract formality." At the same time, this leader becomes the permanent identity source for the re-internalization or introjection into the individual self-consciousness of the externalized super-ego of the group which has become his group.(42)
Thus, as in the Hegelian social and political dialectic, "the route from ancient tyranny to modern constitutional monarchy" is the "closing of a circle" in so far as the state begins and ends with the rule of one man.(43) Likewise, in the Freudian model, "what began in relation to the father is completed in relation to the group."(44) Whereas, in the Hegelian model, the family relation (based on biological determination) becomes transformed into the state, based upon the dialectical determinations of Spirit's higher objective levels; in the Freudian model, the family relation (based on ego psychology) becomes transformed into the state, based on the dialectical determinations of group psychology. For both, the theoretical result is the same - the state is to function as the fullest and most complete embodiment of self-consciousness.
Yet, not only is a total synthesis of states into one world state left an open (though unlikely) possibility in both Freud and Hegel, but in Freud, and unlike Hegel here, the final synthesis and satisfaction of individual and group (which the dialectic of the state is meant to achieve) also remains incomplete, deficient, and essentially negative. Thus, Freud observes, although the group mind "is capable of creative genius in the field of intelligence, as is shown above all by language itself,"(45) creative genius is essentially the product of the solitary individual. In fact, in this sphere of creativity and imagination, groups tend to inhibit intelligence, since they are "entirely conservative" and have "a deep aversion to all innovations and advances and an unbounded respect for tradition."(46)
Similarly, within the ethical sphere, Freud notes that "in certain circumstances the morals of a group can be higher than those of the individuals that compose it" - and this is so even when it is counter to a rational belief in the utility of such moral principles. Nevertheless, it may just as equally occur that, by obedience to the authority of the leader, the individual "may put his former conscience out of action, and so surrender to the attraction of the increased pleasure" (which "is certainly obtained from the removal of inhibitions"), and thereby find himself "doing or approving things which he would have avoided in the normal conditions of life."(47)
Freud seems on occasion to think of this "psychological poverty" of the group (as he calls it) as a malformation of the identity synthesis of individuals within the group through the person of the leader. Thus, he states:
That is, the synthesis of individual and group may not occur where the group remains on the democratic level of civil society's social contract and has not yet identified with a common ego ideal. Hegel, too, allows for this possible malformation.
But, beyond the above considerations, Freud also seems to think there is something fundamentally and intrinsically (and not accidentally) wrong about the group itself. This is because there are, he says, ''difficulties attaching to the nature of civilization which will not yield to any attempt at reform."(49) Thus, "psychological poverty," the incapacity for full synthesis, must remain a permanent feature of state and society and of the individual who must reside therein.
A main reason for this seems to be that the formation of the group mind itself is viewed by Freud not as an advance (after the manner of Hegel) but as a descent of "several rungs in the ladder of civilization." Hence, Freud states that "the psychology of such a group. . . . corresponds to a state of regression to a primitive activity, and of just such a sort as we should be inclined to ascribe to the primal horde."(50)
The full implications for this view - and its relation to the Hegelian, from which it evidently differs - must be made explicit by returning again to the fundamental principles which underlie the Freudian and Hegelian dialectics.
It will be necessary, in Freud as in every other case, to present the theory of man ("the psychology") so as to discover in it the logical bases and pre-suppositions of the theory of the state ("the politics"). Moreover, and true to another long-standing tradition (from Plato onwards), Freud finds in the state and societal organism a reduplication of the structure of the individual organism. This requires greater amplification. Still further, with regard to their origination and evolution, we find (in Freud's theory, as in several others) a recapitulation of ontogeny in phylogeny and ethnogeny.
In Freud, however, these parallel factors form structures inextricably intertwined and interprojected to a degree matched only by Hegel's social and political theory. It is not merely a functional and mechanistic analogy of parts (e.g., head/ruler, muscles/executive, etc.). It is not only an analogy of therapy (e.g., Freud states that there is an analogy between the "process of civilization and the path of individual development" such that the ethics of a culture can be seen as the hypostatization of the super-ego of the communal organism, the lowering of whose excessive demands Freud envisions as the task of the therapist of society).(51) But further, he postulates an historically regenerative and perpetually oscillative and dialectical recapitulation of ontogeny in ethnogeny and phylogeny, and vice versa.
In order to understand this complex dialectic, therefore, and in order to see its roots and find its proper interpretation in Hegel, we must turn to an exposition and analysis of Hegel's social and political theory. Finding there the paradigm of the Freudian theory, we can return to the Freudian "psychology".
. . . to be continued.
BIBLIOGRAPHY1. Sigmund Freud, An Outline of Psychoanalysis in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. and trans. by James Strachey (London: Hogarth Press, 1953) .
2. S. Freud, Totem and Taboo,-trans. by James Strachey (New York: W.W. Norton, 1950).
3. S. Freud, Moses and Monotheism, trans. by Katherine Jones (New York: Random House/Vintage, 1967).
4. S. Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, trans. and ed by James Starchy (New York: W.W. Norton, 1959).
5. S. Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, trans. and ed. by James Strachey (New York: W.W. Norton, 1961).
6. Shlomo Avineri, Hegel's Theory of the Modern State (London: Cambridge University Press, 1972).
7. Paul Roazen, Freud: Social and Political Thought (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970).
NOTES1. Cf. Outline of Psychoanalysis, Ch. 1.
2. Totem and Taboo, p. 158.
3. Moses and Monotheism, p. 170.
4. "Thoughts for the Times on War and Death," p. 219. It is worth noting that Freud tenaciously held to this conception of the reduplication of phylogeny in ontogeny, the transformation of essence into origin, and its necessary assumption of the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Though, as Roazen points out, it may be "logically possible to remove these elements, and translate Freud's phylogenic stages into ontogenic ones" (p. 156). This, satisfactory as it may be to those who find the objections of modern psychology compelling, is nevertheless contrary to Freud's explicit intent. Moreover, one ought not to "excuse" Freud's historical speculations (as Roazen does p. 37) as the result of a timorous unwillingness to claim that his theories rested merely upon psychological truth and not also upon an historical ground.
5. But cf., below, "Conclusion" (sec. V).
6. Group Psychology, p. 55.
7. Totem and Taboo, p. 141.
8. Group Psychology, p. 56.
9. Cf. Totem and Taboo, p. 144; Moses and Monotheism, p. 145; Group Psychology, pp. 35 and 73.
10. Civilization and Its Discontents, p. 42.
11. Group Psychology, p. 52.
12. Cf. The Question of Lay Analysis, Ch. 5.
13. Civilization and Its Discontents, p. 48.
14. Ibid., p. 48.
15. Cf. Ibid., ch. 3.
16. Totem and Taboo, p. 144.
17. Civilization and Its Discontents, pp. 26-27 and 50-51.
18. Ibid., p. 69.
19. Roazen, Freud, p. 155.
20. Group Psychology, p. 52.
21. Totem and Taboo, p. 143.
22. Civilization and Its Discontents, p. 79.
23 Moses and Monotheism, pp. 149-50.
24. Ibid., pp. 15 2-5 3.
25 Totem and Taboo, p. 145.
26. Cf. Totem and Taboo, pp. 141-54.
27. Ibid., p 150.
28. Moses and Monotheism, p. 153.
29. Totem and Taboo, p. 145.
30 Ibid., p. 134.
31. Group Psychology, p. 63.
32 Cf. Moses and Monotheism, pp. 142-47 and 169-176.
33. Group Psychology, p. 18.
34 Moses and Monotheism, pp. 139-40.
35. Group Psychology, p. 39.
36 Ibid., p. 26.
37 Ibid., p. 53.
38 Ibid., p 62.
39. Ibid., p. 48.
40. Cf. Ibid., p. 45.
41. Ibid., p. 11.
42 Ibid., pp. 46 and 64.
43. Avineri, Hegel's Theory of the Modern State, p. 110.
44. Civilization and Its Discontents, p. 80.
45.For their various views on this subject, cf. The Philosophy of Right, pars. 32, 324, 327, 331; Avineri, Hegel's Theory of the Modern State, pp. 198-207; Group Psychology,
pp. 32-34; and Freud's 'Thoughts for the Times on War and Death" and his "Why War?" in SE, XXII, 207.
46 Group Psychology, pp. 11, 15, and 17.
47 Ibid., pp. 14-17.
48. Civilization and Its Discontents, pp. 62-63.
50 Group Psychology, p. 54.
51. Cf. Civilization and Its Discontents, ch. 8.