Sexual Frustration as the Root of Evil
Sigmund Freud contends that people develop neuroses as a result of
frustration. Freud’s essays on this topic postulate that sexual
repression may result in aggressive behavior. These two elements
emerge in the characters in Macbeth. In Freud’s book, Civilization and
its discontents, he takes the premise even farther by correlating
severe sexual frustration with the onset of psychoses. In regard to
Macbeth, I believe that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth portray this spiral
into psychosis as a result of their frustration. We can prove this by
first looking at the ideologies of Freud, and then relating it to the
downfall of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
Freud was both a medical doctor and a philosopher. As a doctor, he was
interested in charting how the human mind affected the body. He
focused on forms of mental illness, such as neurosis and hysteria, and
he endeavored to find effective ways of treating these disorders.
Freud should be considered one of our greatest benefactors because he
pioneered the desire to understand people whose behavior and thoughts
cross the boundaries of convention set by civilization and cultures.
As a philosopher, Freud was interested in exploring the relationship
between mental functioning and certain basic structures of
In his book, Civilization and its Discontents, Freud describes two
fundamental principles, the "pleasure principle" and the "reality
principle." The pleasure principle tells us to do whatever feels good;
the reality principle tells us to subordinate pleasure to what needs
to be done, to work. Subordinating the pleasure principle to the
reality principle is done through a psychological process Freud calls
sublimation, where you take desires that can't be fulfilled, or
shouldn't be fulfilled, and turn their energy into something useful
and productive. A typical Freudian example of this would focus on sex.
Sex is pleasurable; the desire for sexual pleasure, according to
Freud, is one of the oldest and most basic urges that all people feel.
However, we cannot have sex every time we desire. If we did, we could
not accomplish the work we need to complete and maintain appropriate
social behaviors and relationships. Therefore, we have to sublimate
most of our desires for sexual pleasure, and turn that sexual energy
into something else—such as writing a paper, or playing sports. Freud
tells us that, without the sublimation of our sexual desires into more
productive realms, there would be no civilization.
The pleasure principle makes us want things that feel good, while the
reality principle tells us to channel the energy elsewhere. But the
desire for pleasure doesn't disappear, even when it's sublimated in to
work. The desires that can't be fulfilled are packed, or repressed,
into a particular...