Fight Club is a movie that is based on a Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name. The movie adaptation was written by Jim Uhls, directed by David Fincher and released October 15, 1999. The movie is about the life of the narrator, a depressed insomniac who works as a recall coordinator for an automobile company. The narrator is refused medication by his doctor, he turns to attending a series of support groups for different illnesses and uses these support groups for emotional release and this helps to temporarily cure his insomnia. This newfound cure ceases to help him when a girl, Marla Singer who is not a victim of any illness for which the support groups are offered begins to attend the support groups. The narrator returns from a business trip to find his apartment destroyed by an explosion, he calls Tyler Durden, a soap maker and sales man he met on one his business trips. Tyler offers the narrator a place to stay and together they start an underground “Fight Club” the narrator uses as his therapy for his insomnia. The club grows and becomes a source of psychotherapy for many other men. One of the concepts highlighted in the movie is how modern-day men in a supposedly civilized world use violent aggressive acts towards each other to as a means of emotional release and satisfaction.
In this paper I intend to explore how the ideas of civilization and the human aggressive instincts portrayed in the movie characterize reality. This is going to be achieved using psychoanalytical concepts of civilization and the individual’s inevitable quest for satisfying their instincts as identified in Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents. The paper will focus more specifically on the instincts of aggression and self-destruction as opposing forces of civilization, and how they impact the purpose of human life in terms of reality.
The beginning of the movie identifies the narrator as someone who is uncertain as to what his purpose of life due to the fact that his desires are at odds with civilization. He is unsatisfied with his life because he finds that life has a lack of meaning for him and finds himself depressed as a result of allowing civilization to suppress his innermost desires or instincts, “like so many others I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct” (Fight Club). Freud asserts that the purpose of human life is the pursuit of what makes one happy (Freud 25), thus Freud implies that our perception of reality is built from the incline toward satisfying our natural instincts. Freud argues that even though civilization was initially developed to protect us it has turned to become one of the major obstacles for the individual to achieve the purpose of life which is satisfaction of natural needs; “our civilization is largely responsible for our misery, and that we should be much happier if we gave it up and returned to primitive conditions (Freud 38).
The premise that civilization acts as a impediment for the individual is...