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The struggle between the urgencies of instinct and the restrictions of civilization is addressed throughout the works of Sigmund Freud, and in Civilization and Its Discontents the theme is developed with particular richness and depth. This famous study explores the guilt that arises when personal desires clash with social norms, and it examines attempts to reconcile the conflict.
In a sense, such guilt is among civilization's building blocks, keeping aggressive and selfish instincts within bounds. But it can also be a source of great frustration, and Freud examines at length many ways of dealing with guilt, from artistic and scientific pursuits to abuse of drink and drugs. The great psychologist offers revealing insights into the motivation behind human behavior as well as the evolution of many social institutions. This seminal study reveals the struggles to resolve conflicts and cast off guilt as spurs to the growth of civilization and culture.