1st Edition

Norbert Elias and Sigmund Freud The Psychoanalytic Foundations of the Civilizing Process

By André Oliveira Costa Copyright 2024

    This book explores the influence of Freudian psychoanalysis on Norbert Elias’ theory of the civilizing process – an influence acknowledged by Elias himself – conducting a dialogue with a view to analyzing points of contact and distance between them. Examining the development of Elias’ work, it sheds light on the integration of psychoanalytic concepts in his thought, considering the dynamics that exist between individuals and social processes, as the civilizing process affects the psychic economy of individuals and psychic structures serve to sustain civilization. A genealogical study of Freudian concepts as expressed in the trajectory of Elias’s sociology, it will appeal to scholars of sociology and psychology with interests in social and psychoanalytic theory.

    1 - The Court and the Civilization 

    1.1       The desire for distinction and the fetish of prestige  

    1.2       The paradoxes of the court and social anxiety          

    2 - The Dynamics of the Civilizing Process

    2.1       The expansion of civilization

    2.2       The etiquette and the repression of drives     

    2.3       A new grammar of the court society 

    2.4       Superego controls and a new psychic economy of the court

    3 - Logic of Exclusion: The Established and the Outsiders         

    3.1       Integrate and exclude

    3.2       “Us” and “them”: questions about identity   

    3.3       Intolerances and narcissisms of small differences    

    4 - Continuities and Discontinuities of the Civilizing Process     

    4.1       Social habitus: forgetting and segregation    

    4.2       The duty of memory, a collective responsibility   

    4.3       The construction of cases: Norbert Elias's Mozart    

    5 - The Decivilizing Process and the Destinies of Civilization     

    5.1       Considerations on times of war and trauma  

    5.2       The times of trauma   

    5.3       The two sides of the coin: civilization and decivilization    

    6 - Beyond the Civilizing Process   

    6.1       A society that demands satisfaction  

    6.2       The decivilizing spurt

    6.3       The metapsychology of the decivilizing process      

    7 - Freud’s Moses: A Historical Novel       

    7.1       The civilizing process of Jewish monotheism          

    7.2       Transmission of civilization  

    7.3       Historical truth           

    8 - Norbert Elias, Beyond Sigmund Freud

    8.1 Freudian antagonisms      

    8.2 The myth of origins and the civilizing process   


    André Oliveira Costa is psychoanalyst, member of the Norbert Elias Foundation and the Psychoanalytic Association of Porto Alegre (APPOA), Brazil.