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University of Nevada Psychoanalytical Theory Essay

University of Nevada Psychoanalytical Theory Essay

University of Nevada Psychoanalytical Theory Essay


Topics: Choose one of the topics below.

  1. Sublimation. What is Freud’s concept of sublimation? Do you think the effects of sublimation are primarily negative, or might they have some positive effects/potentials? (Note: if you Google “sublimation” you’ll get something like: “divert or modify (an instinctual impulse) into a culturally higher or socially more acceptable activity.” THIS IS WRONG. IF YOU USE THIS IN YOUR PAPER ON THIS TOPIC, YOU WILL NOT GET A PASSING GRADE.)
  2. Happiness. According to Freud, what is happiness and why is it so hard for us to experience it? (Note: Some students only focus on Chapter 2 in developing this argument. That’s not good enough. Others say things like “Freud makes happiness too complicated,” or they basically ignore Freud and provide an alternate theory of happiness. PAPERS THAT DO THIS WILL GET A NON-PASSING GRADE.)
  3. Eros. Explain Freud’s understanding of the relationship between Eros and civilization. On the one hand he seems to think that Eros is a “parent” of civilization, but on the other hand he seems to suggest that Eros is problem for civilization requiring severe restrictions. (Make sure you carefully read everything he says about this in the book.)
  4. Aggression. Explain, analyze, and evaluate Freud’s argument regarding aggression.
  5. Death Drive and Enjoyment. Explain and discuss these two concepts in Freud and Lacan. How are they similar? How are they different? How might they relate to each other?
  6. Superego. What is the superego, as Freud presents it in Civilization and Its Discontents? What role does it play in human life and in civilization? Where does it come from? (Here Googling will lead you astray. Remember, there are many people who write about Freud who don’t understand him at all.)
  7. The Unconscious. Explain the concept of, and the importance for, the “unconscious” in psychoanalysis based on your reading of Freud and McGowan. (Don’t Google this. Doing so will only lead you astray and cause you to fail the paper.)

Overview: For this paper you will develop an interpretive essay based on your reading of Freud, McGowan, and/or Lacan. You should answer the question, supporting your interpretation with evidence from the assigned texts and illustrating it with examples from your own life, observations, or engagement with other texts, movies, plays, etc.

Length: 5 pages, typed, double-spaced.

Citation: Use MLA format.


Thesis. Your essay must be governed by a thesis that (a) responds directly to the essay topic, (b) is arguable, and (c) is stated at the end of the first paragraph having clearly defined all the central terms.

Textual Support. Your thesis must be supported by major interpretive claims (topic sentences) that are supported by at least one appropriate quote or allusion per body paragraph. Your ability to select, interpret, and apply the appropriate textual evidence is key to doing well with the essay. Additionally, you should illustrate your argument with at least one example drawn from your own life, observations, or engagement with other texts, movies, plays, etc.

Reasoning. You must consistently use and apply logical reasoning in developing your thesis.

Writing.Your essay must be written well. There should be no awkward sentences, rough transitions between paragraphs, incoherent paragraphs, extraneous information/unnecessary sentences, typos, or stylistic errors.


For this assignment, you will need to demonstrate your ability to read, analyze, and, to some extent, evaluate a key idea from Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents (or McGowan’s reading of Lacan).

The successful paper will:

  • Demonstrate a clear, sophisticated understanding of Freud’s text and ideas.
  • Will accurately represent Freud’s positions/ideas as presented in Civilization and Its Discontents.
  • Will choose appropriate quotes from Civilization and Its Discontents and effectively integrate them into the student’s own argument regarding the topic.
  • Will state and develop a thesis in response to one of the assigned topics.

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