Sigmund Freud Explained This


By Troy Headrick

We’ve seen them on the internet.  The YouTube archives are full to the brim of examples.  I’m talking about mobile phone footage of people protesting the requirement that they wear masks when entering businesses and other public places.  Often, once confronted about not donning an acceptable nose and mouth covering, these angry folks will scream, make obscene gestures, cough in people’s faces, throw things, fall on the floor and roll around (just like I’ve seen young children do), and yell about how their freedom is being taken away.

More “dignified,” state-sanctioned protests against masks can be found by reading the news.  In Texas, the place where I currently reside and where the highly esteemed Greg Abbott, the state’s governor, has belatedly issued an executive order for people to wear masks after fighting, tooth and nail, against such a mandate much earlier in the pandemic when an order of this sort would have saved lives.  Abbott’s fighting against masks and then reluctantly changing his mind is an interesting study of irrational behavior exhibited by “leadership.”  Other American elected officials have also battled against the mandating of masks even as public health experts said that the wearing of them would slow the rate of infection and save lives.

From a psychological point of view, this kind of resistance against the donning of nose and mouth coverings—a easy and inexpensive preventative—is puzzling.  The anger which fuels such resistance is hard to understand.  Such protesters are railing against doing something simple that would be in their own self-interest to do.  It almost looks like they want to put themselves and their loved ones at risk.  Is it possible that they have some perverse, unconscious need to do self-harm?

Back when I was in graduate school, I took a class that required us to read several of Sigmund Freud’s greatest works.  Unfortunately, I got rid of all those texts several years ago, so I’m no longer able to consult them, but I remember a lot of what I learned, including many of Freud’s basic theoretical constructs.  Lucky for us, there are numerous websites which explain Freud’s concepts of “Eros” and “Thanatos,” otherwise known as his “life drive” and “death drive.”

“Freud’s Theories of Life and Death Instincts,” by Kendra Cherry and appearing on the Very Well Mind website, is a very accessible explanation of these two competing drives.  For those who find all this intriguing, I recommend that you check out the website I’ve linked to as well as Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

Cherry points out that Freud believed that humans were motivated by a “life drive” (Eros) and a “death drive” (Thanatos).  Eros, the one most of us are most familiar with, governs sexuality, “basic survival, pleasure, and reproduction,” all of these aimed at the perpetuation of the individual and the species.  Cherry goes on to say that “the energy created by the life instincts is known as libido.”

What many are not aware of is that Freud argued that human behavior was also governed by a self-destructive “death instinct” which he called Thanatos.  Cherry points out “that people generally channel their death instincts outward.  Aggression, for example, arises from the death instinct.  Sometimes these instincts toward destruction can be directed inwards, however, which can result in self-harm or suicide.”  It is important to remember that because these are instincts, they are hardwired in the individual.  They operate below the level of consciousness and thus are difficult (if not impossible) to control through the exertion of willpower.

Many political commentators have tried to label people’s seemingly self-destructive impulse to refuse to don simple nose and mouth coverings during a deadly pandemic as being a kind of political act.  They conclude that mask wearing has thusly become “politicized.”  I see these angry outbursts as caused by something deeper than political affiliation.  In fact, I think that perhaps Thanatos is expressing itself in these vehement protestations and refusals.

Freud’s Eros and Thanatos mean that humans are always being pushed and pulled by competing instincts.  We are pushed to fight tooth and nail for self-preservation while, at the same moment, pulled to engage in destructive acts that can be aimed at others or at ourselves.

The ultimate irony takes place when the anti-maskers scream to assert their freedom “to be” while they act in ways that would put their very “being” at risk.

What do you think about all this?  I look forward to hearing your responses.  Thanks for reading.

Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.

The photo used in this blog was borrowed from here.

63 thoughts on “Sigmund Freud Explained This

    1. I’m totally with you on Freud. Often, when I read a BIG THINKER like Freud, I’m not necessarily concerned with whether or not his theories are “right” or “wrong.” I’m more interested in whether or not he might possibly be right. I don’t think we can know for sure what happens inside a person when they make choices (of all types). But can a thinker present an interesting and compelling explanation of human behavior. That’s the value in Freud’s thinking.

    2. I find psychology fascinating, which is why I ended up studying it as an undergraduate. I never liked how most psych professors so quickly dismissed Freud’s theories as irrelevant. Most said: “we know better than him today”. I think he was right about a lot of things.

  1. It’s a very interesting topic of conversation you bring up. I’m not sure what the reason is, but as an outsider looking in I find it perplexing given where I live (Hong Kong) and the rest of Asia for that matter – no-one really objected to wearing face masks. If anything people here wore them before the government even asked. There are of course cultural differences at play but if that death instinct theory is to be believed why don’t we see more of the same else where in the world? It seems to be a very American problem. I wonder if herd mentality has a little to do with it also? If everyone else around you is without a mask and shouting about civil liberties would you stick your neck out and wear one or stay silent? Agreed about the irony of it all. It’s an inconvenience for sure – but less inconvenient than death. Thanks for sharing 🙏

    1. Freud was certainly a European and perhaps his thinking is somewhat Eurocentric and “western.” I’m actually not truly concerned about whether or not Freud is right in his psychological assessments. I’m more into speculative thinking. His theories are intriguing and, for me, that’s where their value lies. I do agree that psychology is greatly shaped by sociological forces–like tribal mores and such. Again, though, when I think of humans, I wonder why there is so much self-destructive and counterproductive behavior out there. Why do so many of us engage in behavior that is clearly self-defeating? Thank you for sharing too.

      1. Yeah it’s certainly a tough one to figure out. Tribalism is an age-old instinct that makes most sense to me. If all my brothers and sisters are going into battle I better do the same, even if it means certain death. Perhaps because so many here in Asia were already convinced about wearing facemasks it was done without question – even if some didn’t believe in or understand the science as to why – everyone else is so I will too. It took a while longer for Western science to agree that face masks were absolutely the right thing to do. I remember hearing from a number of Western medical professionals early on during this pandemic who said face masks will have little to no effect which I found so odd because every medical professional in this part of world was adamant about wearing them from day 1. Even the experts can get it badly wrong. At a time when trust in politicians and experts is at all time low this probably didn’t help either. Thanks for replying and bringing up the topic. Find it really interesting.

      2. Like you, I have lived in countries where people were less self-centered and thought more about the common good. My wife, for example, is Egyptian and someone I met while I was living in Cairo. Most Egyptians think about family and community at least as much as they think about self. Also, I sometimes think Americans have a very short memory. If one looks at the photos of the 1918 flu pandemic, one would see plenty of folks masked up. The notion of “American exceptionalism,” the idea that America and Americans are somehow stronger, greater, freer than others never helps. I recall Trump saying that COVID-19 wouldn’t make it to the US, almost like the country had some kind of force field around it or something. By the way, do you blog. You seem like a smart dude. I’d like to see some of your writing. Why not post a link here?

      3. That’s kind of you to say. I have my moments but I think they largely come from a lifetime of stupidity! A little less stupid tomorrow is always the goal. Yes I do blog – fairly new to the game but as a pilot who isn’t flying much these days it’s quickly become a passion to fill my time! I’ll leave a link at the bottom. That notion of American exceptionalism is something I’d not considered either but it makes great sense. So much of what we think and do is written by our national identities – often why I think traveling the world is a great for expanding the mind. Would love to visit Egypt! Moving towards thinking as a collective is something I believe we should all be working toward. Really enjoy your writing and thank you so much for the engaging conversation.

  2. It’s not always helpful to “psychologize” disagreements. People have unconscious motivations, but they usually have conscious motivations as well. As for masks, both sides offer arguments in support of their conclusions. To focus only on their possible motivations does not address the merits of their arguments, pro or con.

    1. I hear you. I think of many of my posts as being primarily speculative in nature. I value Freud not because I think he’s completely right in his assessments but because his ideas are so fresh and intriguing, and because he does a persuasive job arguing them. All of us have to admit that self-harm and self-sabotage exists. Where does such behavior come from from? Procrastination, for example, is one of those I really have problems with. Every time I do it, I end up acting against some important goal I’ve set for myself. I truly enjoy thinking on paper. It’s the thinking that has value, not the resolution of thinking. Thanks so much for leaving such an interesting response.

    1. Freud is a GIANT thinker. I’d put him in the same intellectual category as someone like Karl Marx. Such thinkers change the world. There aren’t many like Freud and Marx out there.

    1. Interesting idea. Do you think Americans have always been this way or are they becoming more angry over time? Are other people, in other places, similar, or are Americans especially addicted to outrage? I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts about all this.

  3. Enjoyed reading this. It’s always good to see the classics brought up just to show how much is owed to the genius of pioneers like Freud. And that they’re still applicable today.
    I would just add two things here, that wearing masks is not for the protection of the person wearing it. There is little evidence the basic masks available do anything to prevent inward transmission of aerosolized pathogens. The mask does, however, reduce outward transmission as well as cut down on the distance of spread. So it’s out of consideration for those around us and our family members that we wear masks.
    Secondly, as Amnesty International recently pointed out, there is no human right to be free of a mask. Also, rights can be, from time to time, limited by greater public needs such as the current pandemic or threat to others – the old ‘freedom of speech vs yelling fire in a crowded theatre’ example.
    It seems the anti-maskers are now attempting to deflect that idea by saying it’s all a conspiracy. See, there’s no danger, those statistics, those bodies we see on tv, all a hoax to make you wear a mask.
    Kinda makes you wonder about the level of persecution fear some people have that they would imagine the entire world has conspired to make them wear a mask.
    Thanks for the mental work-out this morning. Always enjoyable.

    1. Thank you, Another Joe, for posting a comment that’s got me thinking. You seem like a thoughtful guy. Do you blog? If so, why not post a link here so we can check out your writing? I know I’d like to read some and I’m sure many others would too. Thanks, again.

      1. Again, thank you Troy, I do blog – have a few, actually, they’re kinda like salted peanuts…This one is a diary of our unique times: Mostly from the perspective of a Canadian—we’re the forgotten folk who sleep next to the elephant…well, that’s how we see ourselves for the most part.
        I apologize for taking so long to reply but life has a habit of interfering with good intentions.

      2. Beware of countries that suffer from Superpower comlexes. It’s better to be “forgotten” than a trampling elephant! Many of us in the US look longingly to the north. Who knows? Depending on how the next election goes, some of us may come for rather longish “visits.” I’m looking forward to checking out your blog! Thanks so much for contributing to this conversation.

  4. Thanks Troy, another thought-provoking post from you.

    Some people have more practice ‘cooperating’ than other people do. For example, I drive the speed limit because I have better things to do than sit stewing in my car while waiting for a speeding ticket to be processed. For some people, ’cause and effect’ seem to be elusive concepts. I also prefer the ‘high’ I get from endorphins over the ‘rush’ one can get from adrenaline.

    The news-flash is that, from moment to moment, we do get to write much of our own life scripts. John Lewis’ life is a great example of choosing steady-on perseverance over self-pity and aggression. I don’t always choose wisely, but it is still always my choice.

    1. Thanks, Bobbie, for leaving a comment that makes me dig deeper into this whole topic. I really appreciate that you took the time to read my piece and to participate in this conversation.

  5. Interesting post. I remember this from Freud. I particularly liked the fact that Freud invited people to challenge his theories. AP2 has a point also. In the early days when I wore a mask in south Glos’ I was ridiculed and laughed at. I did it for my mother who is high risk. I wondered didn’t these people have mothers?

    1. I like Freud (and big thinkers like him) not because I think he’s absolutely right but because his arguments are so intriguing. A lot of what I write I would call “speculative nonfiction.” I enjoy looking at things from a little different point of view. By the way, you make a reference to “South Glos.” That’s got me curious. Where is that? Thanks so much for your comment!

      1. Yes, I agree about Freud. I went off on a tangent reading him as an undergraduate in my early forties. I live in England. South Gloucestershire is in the West, close to Wales and Bristol and closer to the Cotswolds. Good walking and cycling country. Lots of farms. I grew up in Greater London, and my family are from Wexford, Ireland.

      2. Thanks for the clarification. It sounds like a great place to be from. The closest I’ve come to that part of the world was a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, I took a few years back. I thought the city was lovely but a bit cold even in summer. (I was there in July.) If I had my druthers, though, I live some place in Europe. In fact, once upon a time, I lived in Poland. I’ve lived in other places too and like being from everywhere and nowhere.

    1. Hi. I’ve gone back to do more reading myself. I’m glad you’ve taken an interest in Freud and his concepts. Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment.

  6. Excellent and fascinating. I’m going to go back and read the article. Now I wonder what Jung might have said about it. I know he said that it was dangerous to identify too heavily with the Collective Unconscious. Me, I’m convinced U.S.ers are 1/3 Death Cult.

  7. Thanatos force operates below consciousness, and we often do so many things we don’t realise the full meaning of.
    As this is so, best we can ever do is to try to learn who we are, to bring our consciousness to some of that, that is underneath it.

    Rebelling against the masks could mean rebelling against some childhood pressure still alive in us, just because we are not yet aware of it?

    1. Hi. Thanks for joining the conversation. May I ask if you’re a psychologist or someone who works in mental health? I noticed you go by “kounselling.” And you seem familiar with these concepts. Make I ask where you are from too? I always like to meet people from other countries. By the way, I spent nearly 20 years living outside the US.

      1. For now I am just writing what I have learned from finding myself in a deep, wide hole and then working my way out of it.
        I live in London. Originally from Croatia

      2. I really enjoy Europe. I lived for a time in Poland and especially like the eastern part of the continent. Though I have been in many European countries, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see Croatia. I think it must be wonderful though.

  8. I like your scary photo. It reminds me of life and people in general. My son and his family also live in Texas. I worry about them.
    Our governor Phil Scott mandates wearing masks in public starting Aug. 1. Thank goodness it’s very calm around here as far as wearing masks. My husband and I wear a mask when we go out which is not often. Why do some people have to kick and scream about nothing? I remember the same thing happened when the laws came out regarding wearing your seatbelts, etc.
    Nice post. Take care!

    1. How’s it going? I checked out your blog yesterday and left a comment about you living in Vermont. It must be one of the best places to live in the US. (I lived for many years outside the US and am currently looking forward to leaving again at the earliest possible time.) Unfortunately, all of us in Texas have to worry because our state leadership is horrendously inept. I am lucky in that I live in San Antonio, a very blue city. We’re pretty chill too when it comes to doing the smart sorts of things that need to be done. Thanks for dropping by!

      1. I’m doing good and your welcome. I love Vermont. It’s a pretty, laid back state. My son and his family live in Katy, Texas. I hope you get to come back to the USA soon! Take care!

      2. I’m in the US now. Katy is near Houston, I believe. I’ve long wanted to visit the New England states. One day, hopefully, I’ll get to that part of the country. I hope you and yours stay well and safe.

  9. I always just figured it was that we don’t like being told what to do. Regardless, I consider my emotions as very valuable parts of myself, so I prefer that they’re always directed at bringing up those who do good. In general, I’ll only concern myself with immorality so much as it prevents good people from being good. It means that I prefer to see the question as one that wants to know what we can do to protect ourselves and overcome these acts of immorality, more so than why acts of immorality exist in the first place.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and for posting my piece on your site. I was at your blog yesterday, just looking around and will visit again soon. Take care and stay safe.

      1. Apologies, I don’t think I posted your piece on my site, but definitely always grateful and appreciate being able to hear your thoughts on matters.

        I don’t give those around me enough credit sometimes. If someone were to tell me to take a deep breath and look around for example, I was most likely doing that the moment I’d read it or reflecting upon it.

  10. I have been in the company of many people who do not wear masks and have yet to see one behave in a fashion you have mentioned. Sounds like your side is throwing the fits. 😀 I mostly do not wear a mask because when I go to the doctor, they do not give me one and the doctor says I should not wear one. Of course the oxygen tube in my nose gives evidence to all who matter. I don’t feel like I need on to protect anyone near me because if this virus is anyway close to as dangerous as they say, I wouldn’t be walking around on my two feet – not at 86 with heart and lung issues. And I just love the exception they make for me because I am hard of hearing. WOW. Normal hearing people would not be able to understand me if they couldn’t see my mouth. Does something sound a bit off about this? I keep looking for common sense and find little. Don’t want a dust up but you have lots of comments, I decided to join the fray.

  11. Excellent article. I agree that what drives the “no mask” behavior in individuals is deeper than politics. In a “New Thought” perspective what drives all of us, in the simplest of terms, are unconscious belief patterns that either serve us (life drive) or no longer serve us (death drive.) We have control of both.

    Groups or what is perceived by some as “our” group can be driven by opinions of “tribal epistemology” where the government, academia, science, and media are seen to oppress the masses. Some like Rush Limbaugh have struck a nerve with a group of the masses that oppose all institutions, except business, lumped together, so masks represent a greater threat to their belief patterns, regardless of their credibility. Unfortunately, a group of the wealthy are using the media to literally create negative beliefs in vulnerable populations to further their continuance of power.

    Could it be that the current political environment encourages fear and activates the death drive? It seems the death drive can be activated in certain people by playing politics, creating fear in certain people by challenging the credibility of government, academia, science, and media? When confronted these people act as if their freedom has been taken away from them as opposed to fearing the real threat of the virus, or injustice, etc. It puts them in a state of fight or flight. What I cannot understand is why for so many, business tycoons are their saviors and are approved by God to act in their behalf. The situation has evolved to where if one of these people are asked to where a mask you are challenging God.

    My wife watches “Karen” videos, which make me nauseous. All I hear are the screams of someone having their “being” attacked, which is so untrue and a fall so far down the rabbit hole it’s embarrassing for them. It is very sad when one realizes the deceitful patterns of belief that one would accept to act in such a manner, coupled with the fact wealthy, powerful men and women are encouraging such deceit and separation.

    This would be a great article for Medium.

    1. Hi, Tim, it’s great to hear from you again. You bring up so many interesting ideas in your comment. I want to thank you for making me think a lot more about my subject.

      I know some people would say that the Freudian concepts of Eros and Thanatos are a lot of mumbojumbo, but we see so many examples, in our everyday lives, of people behaving in self-harming ways. The abuse of alcohol and drugs and doing incredibly wreckless things, like driving too fast and such, are just a few examples. I think it makes a lot of sense that our two most basic drives, because humans are always so conflicted, is the desire to love and nurture and help versus the desire to lash out.

      It’s interesting that your wife watches “Karen” videos because I do too. Such videos were one of my inspirations for this, as I made clear early in my piece.

      I’m wondering if there isn’t something inherently self-destructive in the economic system of capitalism. I’ve heard many theorists say that the unequal distribution of wealth in countries often leads to instability. America seems to be a “late-stage” capitalist country. I’m wondering if our economics is literally killing us. When people start to feel that their government no longer is able or willing to meet their most basic needs, they begin to feel the urge to tear it all down. It does feel like we’re in something of a revolutionary moment.

      I really appreciate your comments because they are alway so intelligent and thought-provoking. I hope you keep dropping by whenever I post anything here.

      Thank you so much for the kind word. I’ll let you in on somthing. I’ve revised this pieced, cleaned it up some, and extended some of my thoughts so I can send it out to places like Salon, Slate, and such.

      1. Thank you. “Karen” videos bother me because I used to handle complaints by citizens. To be less stereotypic would be to call them emotionally immature people. It brings back a lot of stressful memories, so I do not watch those videos.

        I know nothing about economics. But I’ve taken long hard looks at the various forms of government. I honestly don’t think it matters whether a country is capitalist, socialist or communist or any combination of the above. Hitler and Stalin professed to be socialists and that scares me. Donald Trump also scares me, although he is a product of a capitalist system and a symptom of its inadequacies.

        Good government leaders would be those that follow principles of equality, justice, harmony, and peace. They may not distribute wealth and resources equally, but they give enough where they have a strong middle class with less poverty and provide a substantial health and mental services and retirement. People don’t need much to be secure, even if they want more.

        Any good government would have to regulate and distribute wealth (money, resources, and information) based on a representative body of the population that follows a constitution or set of rules. Any economic system is useless over time if representatives misrepresent the rules and become greedy. How do good leaders in government and business control the greedy? How much and what type of persuasion or force do they use? A strong political, economic, and legal system is only as good as the ability of its leaders to use persuasion or force to counter the efforts of those that are greedy that will misuse the system. If a system is governed by the people, a democracy, it will come back to what type of persuasion or force is used by the public to get their representatives back on track, particularly when elections are not consistent. Karl Marx made some strong points about the use of force by a population to control the distribution of resources.

        In other words, I think it’s more about the leaders than the system. God help us all!

  12. Wearing a mask is believed to be more for the benefit of others than for the benefit of the wearer. It is pretty selfish of those who are at low risk to think they shouldn’t have to wear a mask. Many people do not have symptoms or feel sick, but are carriers. Put on a mask!

    As for Freud, would he say that I have a life wish for feeling this way? Would he say the non-mask-wearer has a death wish? Maybe the non-mask-wearer just doesn’t care if others die! Surely Freud had a theory for that, too…ego-centric, maybe? I’ll have to brush up on Freud!

    Thank you, Troy, for addressing this subject from a psychological standpoint. I have been wondering how some people can be so selfish and so vocal about their senseless views. All the best, Cheryl

    1. Hi, again.

      I know some people would say that the Freudian concepts of Eros and Thanatos are a lot of mumbojumbo, but we see so many examples, in our everyday lives, of people behaving in self-harming ways. The abuse of alcohol and drugs and doing incredibly wreckless things, like driving too fast and such, are just a few examples. I think it makes a lot of sense that our two most basic drives, because humans are always so conflicted, is the desire to love and nurture and help versus the desire to lash out.

      If I remember my Freud correctly, he would say that the job of the ego and superego is to keep the id in check. The id is that part of our subconscious that is basically hedonistic. I’m pretty sure I’m right on that. I’ll check as soon as I finish this comment.

      Of course, the beauty of Freudian thinking is not that it’s the absolutel truth, but that it provides a very compelling explanation of how humans work and what motivates us. As someone who always enjoyed the theoretical and the esoteric when i was in grad school, I’m drawn to intriguing theoretical frameworks of this sort.

      Thanks so much pushing me to think a bit more about all this. Take care and stay safe!

  13. I believe these people are being driven by their survival instinct. At some stage or other in their lives or in their families lives they believe they have been adversely affected by the actions of the state. The state for them is the cause of their problems and anxieties in life. In this state of mind, any instruction by the state to change their behaviour is now proceed as a threat.

    1. Very possible. The state, depending on its orientation, can nurture and protect all citizens (regardless of their socieconomic station in life) or can cater to the needs of the rulers, the supporters of the rules, and the others that make up the “elites.” In other words, states can appeal to our “better angels” or to our “worse devils.” I fear that more and more Americans are feeling that the state is indifferent to their needs and are thus seeing it increasingly antogonistically. Unless such a trend is reversed, we’re in for trouble.

      Thanks very much for your comment.

  14. Great post and thank you.
    I don’t really care what Freud thinks and this is not meant to be critical in any way. I just think people are stupid enough to believe what they want matters above everything including humanity. I don’t need an explanation by Freud. I need logic because because right now logical action will save us.
    There is a game called follow the leader. Some people will follow it because it gives them direction and they are afraid of their power being taken away. Covid understood this and laughed, knowing sooner or later they would have to face reality.
    Let’s face it, you don’t need a medical medical degree at this stage of Covid to understand a necessity for a mask. It is logical, has been right from the start. This was and still is about the economy because somewhere along the line someone forgot that if people are dead there is no economy. People in power have the means mostly to protect themselves in some way unlike the rest of us. They wanted to keep things going to maintain their power. They didn’t want to worry about the little things like wearing of masks – it would frighten people and they may not have gone to work.
    Now we are all paying the price for their need for power. It is that simple. We need to stop pussy-footing around and call a spade a spade. If we want to play follow the leader then we need to choose better leaders.
    Wearing a mask is not about your rights; it is about looking after each other.

    1. Thanks for such a great comment! Some weeks ago–or maybe it was longer?–I wrote a post on wishful thinking, which is a form of magical thinking. What too many Americans suffer from (other than the things you mentioned) is the inabiliity to think critically and logically. As someone who’s spent a career focusing on understanding critical thinking and helping others get better at it, I’m appalled by what I see. Lots of people think that if they wish something to be true that it will become true. They can’t distinguish reason from unreason and view superstition as being on a par with science. I’m not for sure how long a country can continue to survive in such a state or what it will look like if such a situation continues. I also think our economic system is at least partly to blame. Dog-eat-dog capitalism creates a culture of selfishness. “I’ve got mine, eff you,” is where many peoples’ heads are at. This is me-over-everyone else thinking. The only hope I have is that a large swath of the public is beginning to radically examine how America operates and how its culture works.

  15. I find these concepts of “Life drive” and “Death drive” very interesting. It is definitely obvious to me in some of my friends that these things exist. (Probably more obvious in myself too if I could leave my being and look in on my own life for a day or two.)

    I believe there is enough anger and pain in the world without us actively adding to it. Examining the “why” of feeling the way we do is important, especially if changing our perception and behaviour might benefit others.

    I’m sure my comment here has actually just rehashed a bit of what you’ve said. In any case, thank you for this enlightening read. As I live in New Zealand where masks have not become conpulsory as yet, I learn a lot from hearing about what is going on elsewhere.

    1. (Masks are not compulsory because there have been no new community transmission cases for many days, and it seems we are managing well. I work one poor decision could lead to a wave two, but if that happens it seems or government has a good plan in place.)

    2. Hi, Hamish. So, you’re from New Zealand. Lucky you! You’ve got the best leadership in the world right now. Jacinda Ardern is the envy of all countries who are led by folks like Trump. You should count your blessings.

      I’ve always enjoyed looking until psychological topics like human motivation. Freud provides us with a very interesting theory about how people are moved to either self-preserve and nurture or lash out. Like you, I’ve observed enough people in my lives to make me want to believe that Freud was really on to something.

      For me, the value of Freud is not whether he was right or not. His value lies in providing us with a very interest lens through which we can observe human behavior.

      Take care, Hamish. It’s always good to hear from you.

      1. Thank you. Your writing encourages deep thought, which I think in turn encourages growth. Peace to you and yours.

  16. Wow, what a great article to get my brain going this morning. Not only is your post interesting and well thought out and interesting, but I also found all the comments quite fascinating too. I actually like the way you psychologised the issue.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. Freud is really fun. I’m not so interested in whether he’s right or not. I’m more interesting in using his theories to examine human behavior.

  17. I love your thoughts on this, the way you connected everything, and bought up Freud’s theories, something that is usually dismissed in universities. I love the way you explained it all with simplicity.

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