The Life, Theory And Writing of Sigmund Freud
Published on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at 9:10 pm and is filed under Famous Psychologists
- Sigmund Freud was born May 6, 1856 in the small Austrian town of Freiberg, Moravia (in what is now Czech Republic). He was the eldest of seven children in his family, although his father, merchant wool, had two sons from a previous marriage, and he was already a grandfather at the time of the birth of Sigmund. When Freud was four, his family due to financial difficulties had moved to Vienna. Freud always lived in Vienna and in 1938, a year before his death, he immigrated to England.
- From the very first class Freud was studying brilliantly. Despite limited financial resources, forcing his family to live in a close apartment, Freud had his own room and even an oil lamp with a wick, which he used during class. Other family members were satisfied with candles. Like other young men of that time, he received a classical education, studying Latin and Greek, read the great classical poets, dramatists and philosophers - Shakespeare, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. His love for reading was so strong that the debts in a bookshop were rapidly growing, but it caused no sympathy from his father’s constrained by resources. Freud perfectly mastered the German language and at one time received prizes for their literary victory. He was also fluent in French, English, Spanish and Italian.
- Freud recalled that in his childhood, he often dreamed of becoming a general or minister. However, since he was a Jew, almost any career for him was closed, except medicine and law. Freud has chosen medicine reluctantly. He entered the Medical Faculty of the University of Vienna in 1873. During his studies, he was influenced by the famous psychologist Ernst Brücke. Brücke put forward the idea that living organisms are dynamic energy systems, obeying the laws of the physical universe. Freud took these ideas seriously, and later they have evolved in his views on the dynamics of mental functioning.
- Ambition drove Freud to the commission of a discovery, which would bring him fame even in his student years. He has contributed to science by describing new properties of nerve cells in goldfish, as well as a demonstration of a testicular male eel. But his most important discovery was that in treating many diseases can be used cocaine. He himself used cocaine without any adverse effects and predicted the role for this substance almost a panacea, not to mention its effectiveness as an analgesic. Later, when it became aware of the existence of addiction to cocaine, Freud’s enthusiasm waned.
- After receiving a medical degree in 1881, Freud was appointed at the Institute of brain anatomy and conduct comparative studies of the brain of the fetus and adult. He was never attracted by practical medicine, but he soon resigned his office and began practice as a neurologist privately, mainly for the reason that the scientific work was low-paid, and the atmosphere of anti-Semitism did not provide opportunities for advancement. Everything else, Freud fallen in love and was forced to realize that if he ever marries, he will need a well paid job.
- 1885 marked a critical turning point in Freud’s career. He received a research grant, which enabled him to go to Paris for four months internship with Jean Charcot, one of the most eminent neurologists of the time. Charcot studied the causes and treatment of hysteria - a mental disorder, manifested in a multitude of physical problems. In patients suffering from hysteria were observed symptoms such as paralysis, blindness and deafness. Charcot, using the suggestion in the hypnotic state, could induce or eliminate many of the hysterical symptoms. Although Freud later rejected the use of hypnosis as a method of psychotherapy, Charcot’s lectures and his clinical demonstrations produced a strong impression on him. During a short stay at the famous Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, Freud was a neurologist of psychopathology.
- In 1886, Freud married Martha Bernays, with whom they have lived together for more than half a century. They had three daughters and three sons. The youngest daughter, Anna, was followed in the footsteps of her father and eventually took the leading position in the psychoanalytic direction as a child psychoanalyst. In the 80 years, Freud began to work with Josef Breuer, one of the most famous Viennese physicians. Breuer at the time made some success in treating patients with hysteria through the use of the method of free stories of patients about their symptoms. Breuer and Freud undertook a joint study on the psychological causes of hysteria and therapies of this disease. Their work culminated in the publication of the book ”Studies of Hysteria“ (1895), in which they concluded that the causes of hysterical symptoms are repressed memories of traumatic events. The date of publication of this landmark is sometimes associated with the base of psychoanalysis, but the most creative period in Freud’s life was still ahead.
- Personal and professional relationships between Freud and Breuer abruptly were interrupted at about the same time, when the book “Studies of hysteria” was published. The reasons why colleagues suddenly become bitter enemies, is still not quite clear. Freud’s biographer, the psychoanalyst Ernest Jones argues that Breuer flatly disagreed with Freud on the role of sexuality in the etiology of hysteria, and this predetermined the break (Jones, 1953). Other researchers suggest that Breuer acted as a ”father figure” for the younger Freud and his removal was simply destined by the course of relations as a result of the Oedipus complex by Freud. Whatever the reason, the two men never again met as friends.
- Freud’s statement that, the basis of hysteria and other mental disorders are problems related to sexuality, led to his expulsion from the Vienna Medical Society in 1896. By this time, Freud had very little development (if they were) of what later became known as the theory of psychoanalysis. Moreover, his assessment of his own personality and work on the observations of Jones was as follows: ”I have very limited ability or talent - I’m not very good in the natural sciences or mathematics in the long run. But what I have, though in limited form is probably developed very intensively. “
- The gap between 1896 and 1900 was for Freud, a period of solitude, but solitude is very productive. At this time, he begins to analyze his dreams, and after his father’s death in 1896 practicing self-examination within half an hour before bedtime daily. His most outstanding work “The Interpretation of Dreams” (1900) is based on analysis of his own dreams. However, fame and recognition were still far away. For the beginning this masterpiece was ignored by the psychiatric community, and Freud, for his work received only a royalty check in the amount of $ 209. It may seem incredible, but for eight years he managed to sell 600 copies of the publication.
- For five years after the publication of ”The Interpretation of Dreams,” Freud’s prestige has grown so much that he became one of the doctors enjoying the world-famous. In 1902 was founded the society “Psychological environment”, which was attended only by intellectual selected circle of followers of Freud. In 1908 the organization was renamed the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Many of Freud’s colleagues, former members of this society, have become famous psychoanalysts and conducted psychological counseling, each in his own direction: Ernest Jones, Sandor Ferenczi, Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Hans Sachs and Otto Rank. Later, Adler, Jung and Rank came out from the ranks of followers of Freud and led the competing scientific schools.
- The period from 1901 to 1905 was especially creative. Freud published several works, including “The Psychopathology of Everyday Life” (1901), “Three Essays on Sexuality” (1905) and “Humor and its Relation to the Unconscious“ (1905). In ”Three Essays …” Freud has suggested that children are born with sexual urges, and their parents appear in the role of first sexual objects. Public outrage was immediate and had a wide resonance. Freud labeled as sexually perverted, obscene and immoral man. Many medical institutions were boycotted because of their tolerance for the ideas of Freud on the sexual life of children.
- In 1909 an event occurred, moving the psychoanalytic movement from the dead point of relative isolation and revealed to him the path to international recognition. G. Stanley Hall invited Freud to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, to read a series of lectures. The lectures were very well taken, and Freud was awarded with honorary degree of doctor. At that time, his future looked very promising. He achieved considerable fame, patients from around the world were written to him to psychological counseling. But there were problems. First of all, he lost almost all his savings in 1919 due to the war. In 1920 – the death of his 26 year old daughter. But perhaps the most difficult test for him was fear for the fate of two sons who fought on the front. Partly influenced by the atmosphere of World War I and the new wave of anti-Semitism, at the age of 64 years, Freud developed a theory about the universal human instinct - striving to death.
- However, despite pessimism about the future of humanity, he continued to articulate his ideas in new books. Most important are the “Lectures on introduction to psychoanalysis” (1920), ”Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (1920), “Ego and the Id” (1923), “The Future of an Illusion” (1927), “Civilization and its discontented” (1930), “New lectures on introduction to psychoanalysis” (1933) and “An Outline of Psychoanalysis”, published posthumously in 1940. Freud was an exceptionally gifted writer, as evidenced by awarding him the Goethe Prize for Literature in 1930.
- The First World War had an enormous impact on the life and views of Freud. The work in a clinic with hospitalized soldiers expanded his understanding of the diversity and subtlety of psychopathology. Strengthening of anti-Semitism in the 1930s also had a strong influence on his views about the social nature of man. In 1932 he was a constant target of attack of Nazis (in Berlin, the Nazis staged several public burnings of his books). These events, Freud commented: ”What progress, In the Middle Ages would have burned myself, but now they are content with burning my books.” Only thanks to the diplomatic efforts of influential citizens of Vienna, he was allowed to leave the city shortly after the Nazi invasion in 1938.
- Freud’s last years of life were not easy. Since 1923, he suffered from spreading throat and jaw cancer, (Freud smoked 20 Cuban cigars daily), but stubbornly refused medication, except for small doses of aspirin. He worked hard, despite the fact that suffered 33 severe operations, which were to stop the spread of the tumor (because of this he was forced to wear uncomfortable dentures, filling up the free space formed between the nasal and oral cavities, and so at times he could not speak.) It was awaited him another test of resistance: during the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1938, his daughter Anna was arrested by the Gestapo. Just by chance, she managed to escape and reunite with his family in England.
Freud and Psychoanalysis. Freudian Theory
- In the second half of the XIX century when psychology was separated from philosophy, it became an independent scientific discipline. Its main purpose was to reveal the basic elements of mental life of an adult using the method of introspection (self-observation) in the laboratory. This trend, known as structural school was founded by the psychologist Wilhelm Wundt. In 1879 he established the first psychological laboratory in Leipzig.
- As the main task of psychology Wundt put forward the expansion of processes of consciousness on the basic elements and the study of natural connections between them. Therefore, psychologists of the time were simply overwhelmed by the emergence of a radically different approach to the study of people, developed almost unaided by Sigmund Freud, then a young Viennese doctor.
- Instead of putting human consciousness in the center of the mental life, Freud compared it to an iceberg, a negligibly small portion of which protrudes above the water surface. In contrast, to the prevailed view of man in the nineteenth century, considered reasonable and conscious of his behavior, he puts forward a different theory: people are in a state of incessant conflict, whose origins lie in another, more extensive sphere of mental life - in the unconscious sexual and aggressive impulses.
- Freud as a psychologist first described the psyche as a battlefield between irreconcilable forces of instinct, intellect and consciousness. The term “psychodynamic” indicates just this never-ending struggle between different aspects of personality. Psychoanalytic theory and psychotherapy, as such, are an example of the psychodynamic approach - they look to lead the complex interaction between the conscious motives and unconscious drives that compete or fight each other for supremacy in the regulation of human behavior.
- In the representation according to which the individual is the dynamic configuration of processes in an endless conflict, is expressed the essence of psychodynamic direction, especially in the interpretation of the founder of psychoanalysis, Freud.
- The concept of dynamics as applied to personality assumes that human behavior is likely conditioned, than arbitrary or random. The estimated by psychoanalysis determinism extends to everything we do, feel or think about anything, including even the events that many people regard as a pure accident, as well as the reservation, slips etc.
- This view leads us to the main and crucial theme developed by psychoanalysts. Namely, it stresses the importance of unconscious mental processes in the regulation of human behavior. According to Freud, not only our actions are often irrational, but also the very meaning and causes of our behavior is rarely available to awareness.
- It is difficult to assess the current psychological theories and practices of psychotherapy and treatment of neurosis and depression, without giving due recognition to the theories of Freud. No matter we accept or reject any (or all) of his ideas, it is impossible to dispute the fact that the influence of Freud on Western civilization of the XX century was profound and lasting. It can be argued that, throughout human history, very few ideas have had such a broad and powerful impact. This is certainly a strong statement, but it’s hard to imagine that there are many competitors to Freud. His view of human nature dealt a severe blow which prevailed at the time of submission of Victorian society. He offered a difficult but attractive way to achieve an understanding of such aspects of the mental life of man, which were considered dark, hidden, and apparently inaccessible.
- For nearly 45 years of scientific activity and clinical practice, Freud created:
- the first comprehensive theory of personality;
- a comprehensive system of clinical observation, based on his therapeutic experience and introspection;
- an original method of treatment of neurosis and depression;
- method for studying the psychological processes that are almost impossible to learn any other way.
On our site we consider Freud’s theory and its underlying assumptions.
- Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856 in a small town in the Czech Republic – Freyberg. His mother was Amalia Nathanson, who was born in the town of Brody in the Lvov region in Ukraine, but grew up in Odessa. His father, Jacob was born in the Ivano-Frankovsk region in Ukraine in 1815… read more
- Freud‘s psychoanalytic theory is an example of psychodynamic approach to the study of human behavior. With this approach, it is believed that the unconscious psychological conflicts control human behavior. … read more
- Freud’s Structural Model: Id, Ego, Superego. The interplay between these structures is referred to as the psychodynamics of the personality. … read more
- Photos of Sigmund Freud and his family. Sigmund Freud married Martha Bernays (1861-1951) in 1886. Martha was the granddaughter of Isaac Bernays, a Chief Rabbi in Hamburg. They had 6 children … read more
- Introduction in Depth Psychology – Today the term “psychoanalysis“ is known to everyone as the name of its creator – Sigmund Freud. He succeeded to gain popularity among the general reading public. 40 years after his death, the magazine “Newsweek” notes that his ideas …read more
- Origin and Evolution of Hypnosis. Some of the important people associated with 20th century hypnotism are as follows: Emile Coue, Boris Sidis, Johannes Schultz, Gustav Le Bon, Platanov and Pavlov, William Mc Dougal, Andrew Salter …read more
- The Theory of Alfred Adler - Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, the two representatives of the early psychoanalytic movement, principally disagreed with Freud on the key issues and revised his theory of psychoanalysis in completely different directions. …read more
- The Theory of Carl Gustav Jung - Another remarkable example of a review of psychodynamic theory of Freud is Jung‘s analytical psychology (and in turn, the practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy has also undergone a revision.) …read more