Freud: Happiness is Contrast, or, Why I Can’t Have A Pool.

Before reading Civilization And Its Discontents I had associated Freud with scary ideas about your subconscious and such. There was a sort of stigma attached to the idea of Freud. I understand that this is but one of his published works, but I found myself agreeing with almost all of his ideas and finding them to be in a far different form then I had expected.

Religion. I’ve struggled a lot with these questions of religion. I’m pretty atheist (no not a pretty atheist, although that is how i’m known in some circles) and have never thought it a good idea to listen to what a diety has to tell you. That being said, I desperately want to believe we as global…globe, are connected somehow. I think we need a way to see that all the biological parts of this world amount to some sort of unified whole, and it has some meaning. I think lots of people feel this way, obviously that’s why there is religion. In any case I really like Freud’s explanation of it. He says that religion is really more of a sense of the oceanic rather than faith. He then explains this oceanic feeling by bringing in the ego. What I got from it was that when we were born our ego was less of an internal entity. It didn’t exist as much, really, because we hadn’t had a chance to develop it. We didn’t think about ourselves in the context of ourselves, we thought of ourselves in context with the rest of the world around us and were therefore more connected to the entire world. Our ego was the world so to speak. This is why we have this nagging feeling of connectedness, and why we build fancy churches to bring us together and such. Is it based in any solid science? No, not really. Does it make a lot of sense? Yeah, I think so.

Other things that Freud said that I liked: We as humans must do something in order to deal with reality, such as gardening. Happiness is an episodic phenomenon…Ah yes, contrasting happiness! That was a fairly cool thought. This idea that all enjoyment or pleasure ever is, is a contrast. We could not experience “goodness” if all we ever had was goodness. It ties in a bit with our “death principle” because we can never stay in the current state of things, we need to create chaos somehow in our lives in order to understand and appreciate peace. This is interesting, especially when applied to a political global theory.

I’m not sure if my mother read a lot of philosophy, or was just a wise woman, but she seems to get to a lot of the points of these philosophers in her motherly advice. When I was little, I wanted to have a pool because my rich friend had one. Our own pool! But my Mom told me I didn’t really want a pool because then I wouldn’t enjoy going to my rich friends house to swim. It wouldn’t be special. BAM. FREUD. Thanks mom.

1 thought on “Freud: Happiness is Contrast, or, Why I Can’t Have A Pool.

  1. Cool mom you have~

    The interesting thing about happiness as a contrast is what defines the contrast (ie. the quantification of “happiness” and it’s range of effectiveness given the quantified “unhappiness”). Many theories have been put forth with regards to this issue, the most popular in pop-culture being a sort of zero-sum equilibrium in which equal amounts of happiness and unhappiness exist over the span of X time and/or space (some claim it to be a global variable, although that’s dubious considering happiness’ subjective nature). Honestly, though, quantifying happiness–even personally–is like trying to count the hairs on your head, keep a daily record of them for a duration of at least a year, and compare those daily values to each other in order to determine the average number of hairs on your head over the course of time after assigning arbitrary values to each hair based on length, texture, smell, etc. Definitely not easy.

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