Freud Abstracts on "Civilization and Its Discontents"
The question of the purpose of human life has been raised countless times; it has never yet received a satisfactory answer. Men strive after happiness. This endeavor has two sides: it aims at an absence of pain and unpleasure, and at the experiencing of strong feelings of pleasure. One of the methods of averting suffering is the chemical one, intoxication. Another technique is the employment of displacements of libido which our mental apparatus permits of and through which its function gains so much in flexibility. In another procedure, satisfaction is obtained from illusions, which are recognized as such without the discrepancy between them and reality being allowed to interfere with enjoyment. Another procedure regards reality as the sole enemy and as the source of all suffering, with which it is impossible to live, so that one must break off all relations with it if one is to be happy in any way. Happiness in life can be predominantly sought in the enjoyment of beauty. The man who is predominantly erotic will give first preference to his emotional relationships to other people; the narcissistic man, who inclines to be self-sufficient, will seek his main satisfactions in his internal mental processes; the man of action will never give up the external world on which he can try out his strength. Religion restricts the play of choice and adaptation, since it imposes equally on everyone its own path to the acquisition of happiness and protection from suffering.