Freud Essay, Research Paper
The theories of Sigmund Freud were advanced and are very influential to modern society. This Austrian physician and neurologist is commonly considered as having one of the greatest creative minds of recent times.1
Throughout his entire childhood Freud had been planning
a career in law. Not long before he entered the University of Vienna in 1873 Freud decided to become a medical student.
In school he met a boy that was much older than him. Looking up to him and respecting his thoughts, Freud developed a wish to study law as this older student did, and interact in social activities. Also at this time Freud was interested in the theories of Charles Darwin. He heard Goethe’s beautiful essay on nature read aloud and that made him decide to become a medical student.2
He was drawn to a study of science and he wanted to solve problems facing the scientists of his day.3 His intention was not to be a conventional doctor but pressed by his “greed for knowledge,” he studied philosophical-scientific questions.4
One of the scientists he studied he studied with was a French psychiatrist named Jean Martin Charcot who was the director of a mental hospital.
Freud was impressed a great deal while he was with Charcot. He took a lot of interest in his latest investigations upon hysteria. Charcot’s demonstrations provoked in many people a sense of astonishment and skepticism.5 Charcot’s influence channeled Freud’s interest toward psychopathology. He was Freud’s model and had an insatiable willingness to see and listen. Charcot was the kind of scientist that Freud wanted to become, and that he did.6
Over the next few years Freud gradually formulated his own ideas for the treatment of mental illness. He called his new method psychoanalysis. Understanding the neuroses was all vital to the theory of repression. Therapy now had to be very different. It’s purpose was no longer to ‘abreact’ an effect which had traveled on the wrong lines but to uncover repressions and replace them with acts of judgement which may result in either an acceptance or the condemning of what had formerly been turned away from. With all the new aspects of therapy and everything, instead of calling his method of investigation and treatment catharsis, but psycho-analysis.7
The basis of psychoanalysis is that the unconscious mind determines behavior. Freud felt that unconsciousness is a regular and inevitable phase in the process that is part of mental activity. He said that every mental act begins as an unconscious one, and it might remain so or evolve into consciousness according as it meets with resistance or not.8
Repressed feelings can cause personality disorders, self-destructive behavior and physical symptoms such as blindness or paralysis.9 Repression is termed as the power which makes it nearly impossible for women, and also to a lesser degree for men, to enjoy undisguised obscenity. In it, is distinguished the same psychical process which keeps whole complexes of impulses away from their consciousness in cases of serious illness. Freud proposed this as the main factor in the causation of what are known as psychoneuroses.10
One of his techniques was called “free association.” In his practice he wanted the patient to relax and talk about whatever came to mind. He would listen for clues to his patient’s innermost feelings. Freud developed several other methods to bring these feelings to the conscious awareness. He would also interpret dreams as another way to understand unconscious memories.
Free association and the related art of interpretation helped psycho-analysis succeed in one thing. This was that now dreams could be proven to have a meaning.11 Attention was paid to the early childhood remembrances. Freud’s goal was to get his patients to understand their feelings and help them find ways to deal with them.
Although he was famous for being the father of psychoanalysis, Freud was not limited to that field. He came up with his own theory of mind to explain all mental activity and applied that theory to all aspects of culture: art, literature, religion, politics, education, and law.12
His extensive writings show his interest in all these subjects.
Freud is one of the most influential thinkers in history. People understand human nature much better because of his thoughts. His theories on sexual development have opened up discussion and treatment of sexual matters.13
Freud had much to say about the existence of sexual needs in human beings and animals. He described how this need is expressed in biology by the assumption of a sexual ‘instinct.’ He went on to talk about the difference from this supposal in ideas of the popular opinion. Popular opinion believes that sexual needs are absent in childhood, only to set in during puberty and the coming of maturity. Maturity combined with manifestations of an irresistible attraction exercised by sex upon another provoke this. Freud says that these views are all false and by no means true. He felt that those theories include a number of errors, inaccuracies and mad-brained conclusions.14
His emphasis on early childhood experiences has led to the growth of the study of early childhood development. Freud felt that mankind is very accustomed to the lack of memory of the impressions of childhood. He pronounced that a normal three or four year old child already exhibits an immense amount of highly organized mental functioning in the expression of feelings, among other things. Thus there is no reason why amnesia should overtake these psychical acts, which carry no less weight than those of a later age.15
He affected the way criminologists understand the pathology of crime. Some criminals today are given psychiatric treatment instead of prison sentences. Freud’s ideas helped people understand the art movement of surrealism. Like psychoanalysis, surrealistic art delves into the unconscious mind.16
In popular culture, Freud’s ideas are often used to interpret behavior. For example, an incorrect word that has some psychological meaning is called a ‘Freudian slip.’ Art and literature are often analyzed in Freudian terms. In a recent episode of FOX’s “Ally McBeal,” Freud’s book, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious was quoted to prove the subconscious aggression of one character towards another.
“Sigmund Freud–along with Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein—is among that small handful of supreme makers of the twentieth-century mind whose works should be our prized possession.”17
Freud, Sigmund. The Freud Reader. Edited by Peter Gay.
New York: W. W. Norton & Company., 1989.
“Freud, Sigmund.” Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia.
1971. Vol. XI.
Freud, Sigmund. General Psychological Theory; Papers on
Metapsychology. Edited by Philip Rieff. New York:
Macmillan Publishing Company., 1963.
Freud, Sigmund. Jokes and Their Relation to the
Unconscious. Edited by James Strachey. New York:
W. W. Norton & Company., 1960.
Freud, Sigmund. On Dreams. Edited by James Strachey.
London: W. W. Norton & Company., 1952.
“Freud, Sigmund.” The World Book Encyclopedia. 1985. Vol. VII.
“Freud, Sigmund.” The World Book Encyclopedia. 1985. Vol.