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Civilization & Its Discontents: The Criminalization of Inner City Youth

Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents presents a critical analysis of the relationship between civilization and the individual psyche. Freud posits that civilization creates a degree of discontent within the individual due to the suppression of instinctual drives, such as aggression and sexuality, in order to maintain social order. This repression leads to a build-up of tension within the individual, which can result in psychological and social dysfunction.


One manifestation of this dysfunction can be seen in the criminalization of inner city youth. The inner city environment, with its poverty, violence, and lack of resources, can create an environment in which individuals feel alienated from society and unable to fulfill their basic needs. This alienation can lead to a sense of hopelessness and frustration, which can then be directed towards criminal behavior as a means of coping with these feelings.


Furthermore, the criminalization of inner city youth is often fueled by societal prejudices and systemic inequalities. Minority groups are often disproportionately affected by poverty and lack of resources, which can exacerbate the feeling of alienation and marginalization. This, coupled with biased policing and sentencing practices, can lead to higher rates of criminalization and incarceration among inner city youth.


Freud's concept of the "death drive" can also shed light on the criminalization of inner city youth. The death drive, or the impulse towards self-destruction and aggression, is a manifestation of the tension between the individual's instincts and the demands of civilization. In the case of inner city youth, the death drive can be seen as a response to the lack of opportunities and resources available to them, and the feeling that society has failed them.


To address the criminalization of inner cityyouth, it is necessary to address the underlying social and economic conditions that contribute to it. This includes providing access to education, job training, and mental health resources, as well as reforming biased policing and sentencing practices.


Additionally, it is important to acknowledge the psychological toll that the lack of opportunities and resources can have on individuals, and to provide avenues for healthy expression of aggression and other instinctual drives. This can include providing access to sports and other physical activities, as well as creative outlets such as music and art.


In conclusion, Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents can provide insight into the criminalization of inner city youth by highlighting the tension between individual instincts and the demands of society. Addressing this issue requires addressing the underlying social and economic conditions that contribute to it, as well as providing avenues for healthy expression of aggression and other instinctual drives. Only then can we hope to create a society that is truly equitable and just for all.

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