Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud was a remarkable social scientist that changed psychology through out the world. He was the first major social scientist to propose a unified theory to understand and explain human behavior. No theory that has followed has been more complete, more complex, or more controversial. Some psychologists treat Freud’s writings as a sacred text – if Freud said it, it must be true. On the other hand, many have accused Freud of being unscientific, suggesting theories that are too complicated ever to be proved true or false. He changed prior ideas on how the human mind works and the theory that unconscious motives control much behavior. He applied himself to a new field of studyand struggled with an environment whose rejection of his work endangered his livelihood and that of his family (Freud 3). His work greatly improved the fields of psychiatry, and psychology, and helped millions of mentally ill patients.
He was born on May 6, 1856, in Freiberg, Moravia, a region now in the Czech Republic. His father was a wool merchant and was forty when he had Sigmund, the oldest of eight children (Gay 78). When Freud turned four, his family moved to Vienna, Austria. After graduating from the Spree Gymnasium, Freud was inspired by an essay written by Goethe on nature, to make medicine as his career. After graduating from the medical school of the University of Vienna in 1881, Freud decided to specialize in neurology, the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system (Gay 79).

In 1885, Freud went to Paris to study under Jean Martin Charcot, a famous neurologist. Charcot was working with patients who suffered from a mental illness called hysteria. Some of these people appeared to be blind, or paralyzed, but they actually had no physical defects. Charcot found that their physical symptoms could be relieved through hypnosis (Garcia 209). Freud returned to Vienna in 1886 and began to work with hysterical patients. While discussing the case history of one patient, Freud said: In the study of hysteria, local diagnosis and electrical reactions do not come into picture, while an exhaustive account of mental processes, of the kind we were accustomed to having from imaginative writers, enables me, by the application of a few psychological formulas, to obtain a kind of insight into the origin of a hysteria (Freud 15). He gradually formed ideas about the origin and treatment of mental illness. He used the term psychoanalysis for both his theories and methods of treatment. Freud was always changing and modifying his ideas, and in 1923 published a revised version of his earlier ideas.

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Freud observed that many patients behaved according to drives and experiences of which they were not consciously aware. He then concluded that the unconscious plays a major role in shaping one’s behavior. He also concluded that the unconscious is full of memories of events from early childhood. Freud noted that if these memories were especially painful, people kept them out of conscious awareness. He used the term defense mechanism for the methods by which individuals handled painful memories. Freud believed that patients used mass amounts of energy to form defense mechanisms (Gay 97). Tying up energy could affect a person’s ability to lead a productive life, causing an illness called neurosis. With this theory, scientists have used hypnosis to unlock the defense mechanism to help thousands of patients cope with their problems.
Sigmund Freud also believed that many childhood memories dealt with sex. He believed that his patients’ reports of sexual abuse by a parent were fantasies reflecting unconscious desires (Freud 19). He theorized that sexual functioning begins at birth, and that a person goes through several psychological stages of sexual development. He thought that all children were born with powerful sexual and aggressive urges that must be tamed. In learning to control these impulses, children acquire a sense of right and wrong. The process and the results are different for boys and girls. Freud believed the normal pattern of psychosexual development is interrupted in some people. These people become interested at an earlier, immature stage. He felt such fixation could contribute to mental illness in adulthood. Because of this theory of Freuds, psychologists across the world have developed ways to help people deal with their sexual abuse in the past.

Through out his life, Freud was a cocaine user and a cigar smoker. In 1923, he learned that he had cancer of the mouth from the cigars. He continued his work, though the cancer made it difficult, along with him not being able to quit the habit of smoking cigars (Gay 67). The Nazis gained control of Austria in 1938, and under their rule, Jews were persecuted. Freud, who was Jewish moved to England with his wife and children, to escape being arrested and persecuted (Clark 122). There, he died of cancer in 1939.

Freud was one of the world’s most influential thinkers. He showed the crucial importance of unconscious thinking to all human thought and activity. Freuds strongest impact occurred in psychiatry and psychology. His work on the origin and treatment of mental illness helped form the basis of modern psychiatry. In psychology, Freud greatly influenced the field of abnormal psychology and the study of the personality.

Since the 1970’s, many scholars and mental health professionals have questioned some of Freud’s theories. Feminists attacked Freud because he seemed to believe that in some respects women were inferior to men. For example, he thought that women had weaker superegos than men and were driven by envy. He also thought that women had penis envy and were jealous of men. Other people challenged the theory that patients’ memories of early sexual abuse reflected fantasies rather than actual experiences. As a result of such criticism, most scholars and psychoanalysts now take a more balanced approach to Freud’s theories. They use the ideas and techniques from Freud that they find most useful without strictly following all of his teachings. No one, however, disputes Freud’s enormous influence in the world.

Works Cited
Clark, David. What Freud Really Said. New York: Scholden, 1995.


Freud, Sigmund. The Origin & Development of Psychoanalysis. Ed. Henry Regnay. New
York: Indiana Press, 1965.


Garcia, Emanuel. Understanding Freud. New York: NYU Press, 1992.


Gay, Peter. Freud, A Life Of Our Time. New York: W.W. Norton, 1988.


Macionis, John. Society: The Basics. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2000.

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud Imagine this: a man who can know the brain and understand the conflict that is occurring when we encounter anxiety and unhappiness. Mr. Sigmund Freud had this ability. He knew the human brain all too well. Before entering the University of Vienna in 1873, the youthful Sigmund Freud had signs of brilliance and intelligence. He had a magnificent memory.

He loved reading so much that he once ran up a large bill at a local bookstore that was beyond his budget. He had an obsession with plays, poetry, and philosophy. As a teen, he often ate his supper in his room so he would not lose any time from his studies. After medical school, he began a private practice specializing in nervous disorders. He soon broadened his specialization into hypnosis, unconscious memories, and personality structures. In an example of a patient that Freud examined, he showed that the symptoms she was facing such as coughs and speech disorders, was a result of an event that happened when she was nursing her dying father at his bedside.

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She left from her father`s side and went over to a next door neighbor`s house to dance. She felt guilt over the event. After this observation and others, Freud came to the conclusion that there are three internal tendencies; id, ego, and super-ego. The brain is not cut into three different structures. It is not the three little men that most people picture in there mind that tells you what to do, like good and evil.

It is only three different aspects of the whole brain, and not three different parts. The three aspects, id, ego, and superego, are different levels of consciousness. The memories of a person often fluctuate from level to level. The id operates on a pleasure principle. It seeks immediate gratification. When a person is born, it demands something like eating, drinking, sleeping, and sexual pleasure in its lifetime.

This is something that a person feels that it has to have. This is not a necessity, but it is what the person thinks is a necessity and will do anything to get. If a person wants something really bad, they will go to any measure to get or achieve the goal that they had been reaching for. For example, if a person wants to get a million dollars before they die, they will go to any measure to do this before they die. That is, if the mind is totally controlled by the id. They will go to measures such as stealing the money, even if the person with the money is looking right at them. This is how far the id will go to get what it wants.

If the id doesn`t get what it wants, it will create a memory of what the source of the want comes from. If an infant is hungry, then he will remember the source of the food, such as, the jar of food or the bottle of milk. This is a wish-fulfillment act that will temporarily satisfy the urge to get his food. This still doesn`t change the amount of want for the food. Over time, as the child grows, the id will fade out while the other two tendencies, ego and super-ego, come into perspective more. The ego is the part that suppresses the id from its sudden urges.

Instead of wanting the certain thing right then, the ego waits for the right time and place for the urge to take place. The id sometimes makes a picture of the want, while the ego actually makes a plan for a successful achievement. If a thirsty five-year-old wants water, then the thirsty five-year-old now not only identifies water as the satisfaction of his urge, but forms a plan to obtain water, perhaps by finding a drinking fountain. While the ego is still helping the id, it borrows some of its psychic energy in an effort to control the urge until it is feasibly satisfied. Though the ego suppresses the id, it is the superego that makes you realize right from wrong.

If a person has the chance to steal something, even if not watched, the person will not take the possession because of the superego, that is if it is functioning properly. It is the fear of punishment that comes in as a factor when making the choice of stealing or not. If the person makes the right choice, the mind experiences pride and self-satisfaction. There are two parts of the superego, the conscience and ego ideal. The conscience is what tells you what is right and wrong. It inhabits the id in pursuit of morally right goals, that sometimes are not even pleasurable.

The ego ideal is something that aims the person`s life toward the most right thing to do according to the community. These three levels of thought are some of Sigmund Freud`s most renowned works. Sigmund Freud was the master of the mind and how it functions. This is just one example of freudiana, the term that Eric Woolfson created to describe Sigmund Freud`s works or any facet of his life. His name has become part of our everyday language in that when we make an error in speaking that has a psychological idea it is called a freudian slip.

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