Ideas behind 1984 – Sigmund Freud

We started talking about Freud today until some of you got a little silly … here’s a bit that might help you understand some of the ideas behind 1984.

In two of his books, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego and Civilisation and its Discontents, Freud applied his theories of sexuality and aggression to large groups. In the first of these he writes:

A primary group of this kind is a number of individuals who have put one and
the same object in the place of their ego ideal and have consequently
identified themselves with one another in their ego. ie. they all admire and
want the same thing, so they make themselves the same. In this way the
aggression and competition in the group is mitigated (by ‘love’), or directed
outwards (as racism, religious intolerance, and other forms of group hatred).

You can see in this short description a ‘template’ for the actions of the Party in 1984. It is important in such a group arrangement as this, that order be maintained because chaos and collapse of the group is quite possible.
Freud was also aware of the cost of an individual’s membership of a group.
A ‘decisive step’ toward civilisation lies in the replacement of the individual’s
power by that of the community. This substitution restricts the possibilities of individual satisfaction in the collective interests of law and order.

In times of social breakdown, this replacement of the individual’s power is done byforce, rather than the social institutions that evolved for the purpose. In 1984, as in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, overwhelming and pitiless force produces the response described in the quotation from Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego and in the ‘reforming of Winston Smith.

Try reading this as well.


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