Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Freud

Freud posited that the sexual instinct underlies most human behavior.  Later in his career, he had to add a Death instinct too, since he survived World War 1.  His reasoning was simple: all animals are born with the instinctual drives to survive, and to reproduce.  They are little homing devices that first find food and shelter, then want to fuck everything they see, and poot out little thems that can carry their genetic material to the winds and seas.

This is not unreasonable, but I don't think it unreasonable to add another instinct: the social instinct.  The desire to be with ones own kind, to connect with them, to synchronize with them, to be with them.  From what I read, the need for social connection is hard wired.  There are sections of the brain dedicated to it.  We suffer, inherently, when we are separated for too long from our own kind.  Damage to this part of the brain is the most important, most damaging, part of trauma.  The capacity for connection, for sending and receiving social transmissions, is impaired or eradicated.

And the other instinct he failed to name was that involved in self regulation, which I might summarize as the capacity for calming oneself.  I am tempted to assert that the most important thing you could ever know about a person is how they calm themselves when they perceive the world as hostile. Not superficial calming: the real deal.  This is who they really are.

Sex, of course, is calming for most people, but what I would assert with some confidence is that it is a poor substitute for the drive for connection.  People MOST want social membership, to be understood, to be ensconced in a safe order of other human beings.  Sex can be a means for two people to open up to one another, but it can also be a means of generating distance and alienation.  Either way, it is neither necessary nor sufficient for anything approaching happiness worthy of the name.

I'll leave it there for now.  This was worth saying, but I will likely expand on it at some point.  My life is large streams of feeling coursing through me, that I can sometimes understand.

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