Freud offers us three options by which this may be achieved: repression, suppression and sublimation. Since most of us do not possess the strength of character for conscious suppression and self-mastery without self-deception, and lack the talent for much sublimation, the majority will be forced to fall back on repression, with the disguised return of the repressed that this inevitably entails. A major manifestation of the disguised return of our repressed aggressiveness is in the operations of the sadistic superego that retroflects id aggression away from the object world and against the ego. This results in diverse forms of self-punishment, the "moral masochism" Freud (1916) described in "the criminal from a sense of guilt," "those wrecked by success," and other self-sabotaging and self-tormenting character-types.
Freud's view of civilization is the idea that human beings are essentially biological creatures with strong instincts, among which is aggression, which Freud calls "an original selfsubsisting instinctual disposition in man . . . the greatest impediment to civilization." The question then obviously arises: How does civilization channel, cope with, control, or suppress this anti-social instinct? In Chapter VII Freud develops the theory of the superego, the internalization of aggressiveness and redirecting of it back onto the ego and the consequent creation in human beings of guilt, which expresses itself as a "need for punishment." And this primal guilt is, according to Freud, the origin of civilization.
What the father's presence had formerly prevented they themselves now prohibited in the psychic situation of "subsequent obedience" which we know so well from psychoanalysis.
Then follows the erection of an internal authority, and instinctual renunciation due to dread of it—that is, dread of conscience. In the second case, there is the equivalence of wicked acts and wicked intentions; hence comes
the sense of guilt, the need for punishment.
The existence of this tendency to aggression which we can detect in ourselves and rightly presume to be
present in others is the factor that disturbs our relations with our neighbours and makes it necessary for culture to institute its high demands.
The sense of guilt is obviously only the dread of losing love, social anxiety. In a little child it can never be
anything else, but in many adults too it has only changed in so far as the larger human community takes the
place of the father or of both parents.
The tension between the strict super-ego and the subordinate ego we call the sense of guilt; it manifests itself as the need for punishment. Civilization, therefore, obtains the mastery over the dangerous love of aggression in individuals by enfeebling and disarming it and setting up an institution within their minds to keep watch over it, like a garrison in a conquered city.
The aggressiveness is introjected, internalized; in fact, it is sent back where it came from, i. e., directed against the ego. It is there taken over by a part of the ego that distinguishes itself from the rest as a super-ego, and now, in the form of conscience, exercises the same propensity to harsh aggressiveness against the ego that the ego would have liked to enjoy against others.
If he loses the love of others on whom he is dependent, he will forfeit also their protection against many dangers, and above all he runs the risk that this stronger person will show his superiority in the form of punishing him. What is bad is, therefore, to begin with, whatever causes one to be threatened with a loss of love; because of the dread of this loss, one must desist from it.
Civilized man has exchanged some part of his chances of happiness for a measure of security.