On One Subject, Freud Nailed It

Sigmund Freud once wrote:

“Religion originate(s) in the child’s and young mankind’s fears and need for help. It cannot be otherwise.”

He also wrote:

“Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. […] If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man’s evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity.” 

Religion or not, it seems that most people have a hard time accepting the nature of their own individual selves. The hostility and anger with which so many greet the mere mention of the concept individualism — to say nothing of freedom, limited government, individual rights — attests to this fact.

There has to be a reason why most are unfriendly, at best, to the concept of freedom. Mind you, most people want what they call “freedom.” But the concept held in their minds is not autonomous, individual self-responsibility. This concept frightens nearly everyone, and it leads others to become hostile, even hateful.

What most people have in mind when they want their freedom is: “I want to be able to do what I want. I want to have what I want.” Of less importance, or of no importance, is the self-responsibility and rational thought required to get or keep what one wants. It’s as if that whole part of the picture is dropped.

In the modern world, it’s politicians, bad psychotherapists and bad New Age “spiritualists” who appeal to the worst in people. They tell them, “You are entitled to your freedom. ” Well of course they are. But what does freedom actually mean? That’s left undefined, and deliberately so by those who foster this motivation in others for their own questionable agendas.

Freud was talking about religion, but — whether he knew it or not — he was talking about much more. He was talking about the human condition as we know it, still the case more than a century after he lived and wrote. The fact, then as now, is: Most people are profoundly afraid of living.

Humans are trying to get control over the sensory world of objective reality. It’s the world in which they live or are “placed” as Freud put it. Freud was right to distinguish between the “wish-world” people create for themselves as opposed to the real, objective sensory-based world we all inhabit.

I disagree with Freud about much, but I agree with him on this: Most people are frightened of existence, and in their fear they have yet to fully (psychologically) evolve.

Because most people are frightened of existence, they latch on to false or arbitrary beliefs to provide them with supposed aid and comfort. Some rely on an the assistance of an unseen force, an all-powerful force making sure everything goes well for them and that justice prevails at all times. Others prefer a more secular, seen force, in the form of messiahs on earth, be they Jesus, Mohammad, Obama, or the Department of Health and Human Services — it’s all the same principle. It’s all a fantasy, based on the false belief that somebody else will provide “and therefore I am not alone.” This cuts to the heart of secular leftism/social subjectivism, but it’s equally at the core of all things religious.

All of these wish-worlds are on a collision course with reality at all times, and evidence abounds in daily life as to how illogical it all is. No matter. Most hold on to their illusions with relentless tenacity because, to them, it beats the alternative of having to confront their fear of being alive, and of being alone. People will go to great lengths to avoid the truth, and millions have been sacrificed (usually in the name of religion or state) to foster the parade of self-deceit witnessed throughout the mostly tragic story of human history (thus far). The self-deceit continues unabated in our own time, as people in the third world continue to succumb to irrationalism and people in the “free” world systematically prepare to give it all up.

The truth is, and always was, that we are all alone. And this isn’t depressing. It’s actually liberating, if people only developed the courage to see it this way.

We each stand alone in facing existence. We are born alone, and we die alone — in the sense of being one consciousness and one body, at birth and at death. Human relationships and associations, even great loves, are within the realm of possible — and are unquestionably what make life most meaningful. But these relationships must be acquired, built, maintained and — yes — earned by the individuals who have them. “Earned” is a concept considered too harsh, mean and judgmental in the current era, but I’ve yet to encounter anyone who doesn’t in some sense grasp its truth.

We are alone … and that’s OK. Those who stop fighting this fact and instead learn to embrace it are the ones who innoculate themselves against the worst of the emotional disorders, and all other forms of mental anguish.


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