Sigmund Freud – Biography, Life and Works

Sigmund Freud Image
Sigmund Freud, 1926 Chalk on paper Ferdinand Schmutzer, artist Freud Museum, London (91)

Sigmund Freud – is founder of direction, which became known under the name of depth psychology and psychoanalysis. He was born on May 6, 1856 in the small Moravian town of Freiburg (now Příbor) in a poor family of fur trader. In 1860 the family moved to Vienna, where the future brilliant scientist lived about 80 years of his life.

Early Life

Freud’s family was large, they were 8 children. But only Sigmund was distinguished by his exceptional abilities. He had an extremely sharp mind and a passion for reading. Therefore, his parents have sought to create for him the best conditions. If other children were learning lessons by candlelight, Sigmund was highlighted by the kerosene lamp. Nobody could disturb him from learning. He graduated the high school with honors at the age of 17 and was enrolled in the famous University of Vienna, faculty of medicine.

Studding in Vienna

Vienna was then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, its cultural and intellectual center. The university had distinguished teaching professors. While studying at the university, Freud entered the student union to study the history, politics, and philosophy (this further affected its concepts about culture). But a particular interest for him represented the natural sciences, whose achievements made in the middle of the last century, revolution in minds, laying the foundations of modern knowledge about the body of nature. In the great discoveries of this era – the energy, conservation law and the established law of evolution of Darwin in the organic world – drew Sigmund Freud to belief that scientific knowledge is knowledge of the causes of the phenomena under strict control experience. Sigmund Freud relied on both laws, when he proceeds later to the study of human behavior. The body he represented as a kind of apparatus, a charged energy that is discharged either in normal or in pathological reactions. In contrast to the physical devices, the body is a product of the evolution of the human race and life of the individual. It was also seen, first, from the standpoint of energy resource of the person, the employees “fuel” of its actions and feelings, and secondly, from the perspective of the development of the personality that carries the memory of her childhood and of all mankind, and about his own childhood. Therefore, Sigmund Freud brought up on the principles and ideal precisions, experimental science – physics and biology. It is not limited to the description of phenomena, and searching for their causes and laws (such an approach known as determinism and in all subsequent work of Freud was a determinist). These ideals he followed later when he moved to the area of psychology. His teacher was the outstanding European physiologist – Ernst Brücke. Under his leadership, the student, Freud worked in Vienna at physiological institute, sitting for long hours over the microscope. Under the old age, being internationally recognized psychologist, he wrote to one of his friends that he had never been as happy as during the years spent in the laboratory to study the device of the nerve cells of the spinal cord of animals. The ability to work with concentration, giving him entirely for scientific pursuits, worked out in this period, Sigmund Freud maintained for the next decade. He intended to become professional scientists. But Brücke hadn’t any vacant seat at the physiological institute. Meanwhile, the financial situation deteriorated Sigmund Freud. The difficulties were aggravated by the forthcoming marriage to the same poor, as he, Martha True. He had to leave science and seek for a livelihood. There was one way out – to become a medical practitioner, although this profession, he did not feel any gravity. He decided to take up private practice as a neurologist. Do to this he had to first go to work at the clinic because he hadn’t any medical experience. At the hospital, Sigmund Freud thoroughly develops methods of diagnosis and treatment of children with brain damage (patients with infantile paralysis), as well as various speech disorders (aphasia). His publications on this are well known in the scientific and medical circles. Sigmund Freud was gaining a reputation as a highly qualified neurologist. His patients he treated at the time accepted methods of physiotherapy. It was believed that since the nervous system is a material body, then the painful changes that take place there must be tangible reasons. Therefore, they should be addressed through physical processes, influencing the patient’s heat, water, electricity, etc. Very soon, however, Sigmund Freud became dissatisfied of these physiotherapeutic procedures. The Sigmund Freud in newspaper effectiveness of treatment left much to be desired, and he pondered the possibility to use other methods, such as hypnosis, which some doctors were using have achieved good results. One of such successful practitioners was Josef Breuer, who became the patron of all the young Sigmund Freud (1884). Together they discussed the causes of diseases of their patients and prospects for treatment. Patients, who addressed to them, were mostly women, who suffered of hysteria. The disease manifested itself in various symptoms – fear (phobias), loss of sensitivity, aversion to food, a split personality, hallucinations, spasms, etc.

Applying a light hypnosis (suggestion condition, like sleep), Breuer and Freud asked patients to talk about events that once accompanied the appearance of symptoms. Turned out that when the patients could remember about it and “reprimand” it, the symptoms at least temporarily disappeared. This effect Breuer called the ancient Greek word “catharsis” (purification). Ancient philosophers used this word to denote feelings caused by the human perception of works of art (music, tragedy). It was assumed that these products purify the soul from the hides of its passions, thereby bringing “harmless pleasure.” Breuer has shifted this term from aesthetics to psychotherapy. Behind the notion of catharsis was concealed the hypothesis that symptoms arise from the fact that the patient first experienced the intense, emotionally colored attraction to any action. Symptoms (fears, cramps, etc.) are symbolically replace this unrealized, but the desired effect. The energy of attraction is discharged in a perverted form, as it were “stuck” in the bodies, which sometimes operate abnormally. Therefore, it was assumed that the main task of the doctor – to get the patient to relive the repressed desire and thus make energy (nervous and mental energy) a different direction – namely, to translate it into the path of catharsis, to defuse a depressed appetite in the story of a doctor about it. In this version of the traumatic patient, repressed by consciousness, emotionally colored memories, get rid of them gives a therapeutic effect (disappear movement disorder restored sensitivity, etc.), contained the germ of the future of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. First of all, in these clinical studies “erupted” idea, this has consistently returned to Freud. The foreground is clearly made by the conflicting relations between the conscious and unconscious, but which violate the normal course of conduct of mental states. The fact that the threshold of consciousness crowded past experiences, memories,  ideas, able to influence his work has long been known to philosophers and psychologists. New aspects on which lingered thought Breuer and Freud were, first, the resistance, which renders the consciousness of the Josef Breuer unconscious, with the result that there are diseases of the feelings and movements (up to a temporary paralysis),and secondly, the treatment to the means remove this resistance, at first – to hypnosis, and then – to the so-called “free association”, which will be discussed further. Hypnosis mind control weakened, and sometimes just shot him. This facilitated the hypnotized patient solution, which Breuer and Freud put, – “pour soul in the story of repressed from consciousness experiences.

Hypnosis was especially successfully used by French doctors to examine the experience, of why Freud for a go to Paris for few months, to the famous neurologist Charcot (now his name is preserved in connection with one of physiotherapeutic procedures – the so-called shower Charcot). It was a wonderful doctor, nicknamed “Napoleon of the neuroses.” It has cured most of the royal families of Europe. Sigmund Freud, a young Viennese doctor – joined a large crowd of trainees, which is constantly accompanied by a celebrity during a round at the hospital and at sessions of treatment by hypnosis. The case helped Sigmund Freud to get close to Charcot, to whom he addressed with a proposal to translate his lectures into German. In these lectures, he argued that the cause of hysteria, like any other disease, should be sought only in physiology, in violation of the normal work of the body and nervous system. In an interview with Sigmund Freud, Charcot noted that the source of anomalies in the behavior of neurotic lies in the peculiarities of his sex life. This observation is sunk into the head of Sigmund Freud, especially as he himself, and other doctors faced with the dependence of nervous diseases of sexual factors. A few years later, under the influence of these observations and assumptions, Freud postulated, attached to all its subsequent concepts, whatever psychological problems they may be included, special coloring and permanently connecting it addressed the idea of the omnipotence of sexuality in all human affairs. This ideas of the role of sexual desire as the chief engine of human behavior, their history and culture gave Freudianism specific color, strongly associate it with the ideas, which reduces all the countless variety of forms of life to direct or disguised intervention of sexual forces. This approach denoted by the term “pan sexuality”, courted Sigmund Freud in many Western countries, huge popularity – moreover, far beyond psychology. In this principle were to perceive a sort of universal key to all human problems.

Continuing the practice as therapist, Sigmund Freud turned from individual behavior to social. In the monuments of culture (myths, customs, arts, literature, etc.), he sought an expression of the same complexes, all of the same sexual instincts and perverse ways to meet Freud and his colleagues, Clark University them. Following trends “biologization” the human psyche, Sigmund Freud extended to explain the development of its so-called bio-genetic law. Under this law, the individual development of an organism (ontogeny) in a concise and succinct repeats the main stages of development of all species (phylogeny). For a child, this meant that, passing from one age to another, it should be for those milestones that have passed the human race in its history. With this version, Sigmund Freud argued that the core of the unconscious psyche of modern child is formed from the ancient heritage of mankind. In the fantasies of a child and his impulses are reproduced wild instincts of our wild ancestors. Any objective data that speak in favor of this scheme, Freud did not have. It was a purely speculative. Modern child psychology, with its huge experimentally tested material on the evolution of the child’s behavior, totally rejected this scheme. Against its unique interpretation and carefully conducted comparison of cultures of many peoples. It did not find those complexes, which, according to Sigmund Freud, as a curse hanging over the whole human race and condemned them to death, every neurosis. Freud had hoped that by drawing attention to sexual complexes not in the reactions of their patients, and in the monuments of culture, it will add to its versatility and schemes credibility. In fact, his excursions into the history only strengthened the scientific community distrust of the claims of psychoanalysis. His appeal to the data relating to the psyche “primitive people”, “savages” (Sigmund Freud relied on the literature of anthropology), aims to show the similarities between their thinking and behavior and symptoms of neurosis. This was discussed in his work “Totem and Taboo”(1913).

Not cultural-historical research of Sigmund Freud but his ideas concerning the role of unconscious impulses as in the neuroses and in everyday life, its orientation to a depth of psychotherapy became the center of unity around Freud’s large community of physicians, psychiatrists, psychotherapists. Gone are the days when his books did not show any interest. So, it took 8 years to a sold-out the book “The Interpretation of Dreams”, printed in an edition of 600 copies. Nowadays in the West as many copies are sold monthly. Sigmund Freud comes to international fame. In 1909 he was invited to the United States, his lectures attended by many scientists, including the patriarch of American psychology, William James. Embracing Sigmund Freud, he said: “It’s your future.”

In 1910 in Nuremberg, was convened the First International Congress on psychoanalysis. However, soon the midst of this community, which has announced a special science of psychoanalysis is different from psychology, began infighting that led to its disintegration. Many of yesterday’s close associates Sigmund Freud broke with them and created their own schools and directions. Among them were, in particular, have become major psychologists, researchers, as Alfred Adler and Carl Jung. Most parted with Sigmund Freud because of his commitment to the principle of the omnipotence of sexual instinct. Against this dogma was referred to as the facts of psychotherapy and their theoretical interpretation.

Soon, Sigmund Freud himself had to make adjustments in his scheme. This forced life. First World War broke out. Among the military doctors were some familiar with the methods of psychoanalysis. Patients they had were suffering from neurosis not paired with sexual experiences, but their tests with traumatic wartime. With these patients also faced Freud. His previous concept of dreams of the neurotic, which arose under the influence of treatment of the Viennese bourgeoisie at the end of XIX century, was unfit to interpret the mental trauma encountered in combat conditions in yesterday’s soldiers and officers.

Along with the social circumstances (war neurosis) Sigmund Freud had personal motives and treatment to this problem. In the early 20-ies it struck a serious disease caused by the fact that it was malicious cigar smoker. Patiently enduring a painful operation for the other, he continued to work hard. In 1915-1917 he spoke at the University of Vienna with a great rate, published under the title «Introductory Lectures in Psychoanalysis.” The course required additions. He published them in the form of 8 lectures in 1933 in Germany. In 1933 fascism came to power. Among the burned ideologues “new order” was books and books of Sigmund Freud. Learning of this, Freud said: “What progress we have made!” In the middle of the century they would have burned me, these days they are satisfied that burned my books. “He did not suspect that it would take several years, and in the ovens of Auschwitz and Majdanek will be killed millions of Jews and other victims of Nazism, and among them – four sisters of Freud. He himself, the world-famous scientist might have fallen apart after the Nazi annexation of Austria the same fate, if mediated by the American ambassador to France was unable to get permission for him to emigrate to England. Before he left he had to give a receipt to the fact that the Gestapo was drawn to him politely and carefully and that he had no reason to complain. By putting his signature, Freud asked: Is it possible to add that he can heartily recommend the Gestapo to each? In England, Sigmund Freud met with enthusiasm, but his days were close to the end. He suffered of pain, and at his request, his doctor made two injections that put an end to suffering. It happened in London on September 21, 1939.

Further reading:

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