The Present-Day Forms of Discontent in Culture

By François Richard

Is the present-day discontent in culture an extension of the one described by Freud, or does it constitute something altogether different? This article takes up the Freudian idea of a contradiction between barbarism and civilization when it is active at the very heart of the collective cultural Superego. This notion sheds light on the contemporary transformations, on condition that we supplement the notion of the death drive by that of subjective disengagement; that we understand that Freud's “actual neurosis” has been replaced by a new modality of dissatisfaction; and finally that we entertain the complexity of a situation in which we find both mounting moral concern and the brazen expression of shameless cynicism.

  • adolescence
  • borderline cases
  • subjective disengagement
  • civilization and its discontents
  • primary processes
  • group psychology
  • sexuality
  • superego
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