Institutions as in what? For openers, the institutions of religion, a traditional western marriage, and the Have and Have Not horror (which in essence is a profoundly conditioned social structure).
To take the second one first, I suspect there is nothing humans represses more than that "marriage" (especially monogamous marriage) is merely a relative social institution. It's not in any sense biologically hard wired into our species and in spite of all the legal and religious jazz, it is a completely arbitrary social construction.
But for many (most?) of us, it is the God of our lives. But why should that be? Why should this concatenation of "rules" kill our individuality?
Hey, we're the dogs, not the tails, but we certainly don't live like that. When you pass through a marriage abracadabra ritual, you have surrendered the "center of gravity" of your life to what is a social "game", but a game backed up (rather like gold backs up paper money) by OTHER institutions, such as religion and a bunch of dreamed up "laws".
Probably nothing in life is a better example of the infinite stupidity of being a jail cell (often for the rest of your life) with one wall wide open. Yes, there are "consequences" when you get a divorce, but the MAIN thing that keeps probably most of us playing the game is we don't think it IS a game -- even though it's hard to say just how we do think of it.
Obviously, for some of us it's a commandment straight from God (whatever that means). For others, perhaps less religious, it has massive cultural "weight" that chains us to a defined way of life.
In either case, however, these are both simply forms of profoundly successful social conditioning.
It's easy to write off such of critique of marriage as sour grapes or "atheist thinking", but such responses beg the question since they are merely variations of not wanting to face the truth of things. And the truth of things is that institutional marriage is a "passing fancy" of evolution and will almost certainly be selected out in the relatively near future.
Children are not being overlooked in this examination, since it is a common experience for all of us that the toxic infrastructure of most marriages (yes, most!), are horribly destructive to vulnerable children. Love and compatibility is what should hold adults together, not fear of social punishment. However idealistic it may sound to say such things, the only relationship that makes ANY sense is one in which both parties are like birds flying together only for as long as they both want to, i.e., no “institutional chains”.
However, this critique of marriage is secondary to the larger point that we humans are dragging around mountains of anachronistic and criminally stupid conditioning. In short, we "believe" (note a root meaning of "belief" is "lief" -- which is wishful thinking) what we believe mostly because we have been massively socially/culturally programmed to have these beliefs.
As opposed to what? How tragic that we have to even ask that question. As opposed to BELONGING TO OURSELVES, that's what.
Indeed it's entirely possible that the human race is approaching a momentous cusp where if we don't demote our past conditioning from "The Authority" to a vast bank of pragmatic "memes", we are in grave danger of being "conditioned to death".
Religion comes to mind. Do we really NEED religion for ANYTHING? How much longer are we going to allow this institution to keep chaining us to a stake that was set in the earth usually several thousand years ago?
Again, we see an institution (frequently mostly made up of men in dresses) which, in effect, replaces our "sense of self". Nothing reveals the absurdity of institutional religion more than to think we have to ask the institution "who we are". Think about that. It's like having to ask your neighbors who you are -- surely the ULTIMATE act of submission.
The big concept in all this is the straight jacket of social conditioning (or programming or brainwashing or your concept of choice), and that any institutional dog which wags us like a tail is grounded in social conditioning.
Please keep in mind the Have and Have Not horror is ALSO variation of social conditioning. After all, only one or two percent of the human race has nearly ALL of the power and money, so why do we keep bending over for them?
It's naive to think we do it because of "social consequences" if we disobey. Certainly that is a factor, but probably 95% of the reason we keep abjectly kissing the feet of the Haves (aka, the elites, aka, The Beast) is because it never even seriously occurs to us that we can do otherwise.
And why not? You got it: social conditioning. We don't revolt and destroy the Beast to fundamentally equalize the wealth of what is after all the planet of ALL OF US, not so much because of economics, violence, or reprisals, but because we have been systematically brainwashed not to do this.
However, this needs clarification. It’s not so much that we have been conditioned to not destroy The Beast, but (and infinitely more importantly), we have been conditioned to not even THINK ABOUT doing this!
What proof? Easy. Ask yourself (and please be honest!) if you think there's ANY POSSIBILITY WHATSOEVER that we (i.e., 98% of the human race) can turn the Earth into something like the glorious Constitutional Republic envisioned by our genius forefathers.
Marx got lots of things wrong and the Russian Revolution almost immediately turned in to just a new (and even more horrible) form of totalitarianism, but his notion of "each according to his abilities and needs" was one of the most profound social utterances in human history.
OK, now let's get this straight. One or two percent of humanity has basically all the wealth and power and live like Greek Gods. Indeed, the Paris Hilton's and Rupert Murdoch's quite literally live like Kings and Queens; even though they take pains not to use such words. No, the Beast of religious fanatics, vampire elites, and fascist right rings much prefers the secrecy of a Heart of Darkness. Out of sight, out of mind -- something like that.
But please remember these maggots in The Beast are few in number, whereas all the rest of us (i.e., brainwashed human cattle) make up basically the entire human race.
So why do we allow this total insanity and infinite immorality to continue? Why don't we "stand up and be counted" and DESTROY THE BEAST. In spite of all their fire walls, fail safes, and semi control of the engines of power, it would actually be easy. We could do it in two or three weeks. We could literally change the Have and Have Not horror in two or three weeks. Hey, there's BILLIONS of us and probably only a few thousand Kings and Queens.
And yet, all we do is suck our thumbs and watch television. And oh yes, we play the political game, but the political game was invented by and for the elites. Look at Obama. Perhaps he has good intentions, but the jury is still out and probably the best we can hope for at the end of the next four years is a decorated cage.
However, more importantly, even if Obama tries his best, the changes will be superficial because the core dynamics of The Beast are utterly and forever beyond the reach of “politics”.
So, lots of conditionings: marriage, religion, and the eternal Have and Have Not horror. Which brings us back to why are we living like this? Why are we tails wagged by institutions?
Clearly, the answer is the straight jacket of social conditioning. We suck our thumbs, we don’t revolt, we beg for crumbs, because it NEVER seriously enters our minds that we can to otherwise.
Hence, the cusp. If our species doesn't start being self directed INDIVIDUALS, instead of programmed cattle (locked in marriages, religions, and abject submission to The Beast), our species is doomed.
The bad news is that such transcendental liberation must happen in the millions otherwise The Beast will continue to drive the human species to extinction.
The good news is that such liberation can (and must) happen one life form at a time.
And why is this good news? It's good news because from the point of view of each of us, such transcendence of conditioning (i.e., Liberation!) IS POSSIBLE. It's been happening for millennia and it is happening as we speak. The only problem is that it needs to be happening in the millions, not in the hundreds or thousands.
In short, the buck 100% stops with each of us. Indeed, that's what it means to transcend conditioning. It means YOU FIRST BELONG TO YOURSELF (not to a marriage, religion, or Have Not identity), and only a species with millions of such evolved and liberated individuals can and will destroy The Beast.