Sigmund Freud Essay, Research Paper
Sigmund Schlomo Freud whose real name at birth was Sigismund,was born on May 6, 1856, in Freiberg, Moravia, now Pribor, in Czech Republic. The son of Jacob and Amalia(who was 20 years younger than her husband). Sigmund had seven younger brothers and sisters. His family constellation was unusual because Freud’s two half-brothers, Emmanuel and Philipp, were almost the same age as his mother. Freud was slightly younger than his nephew John, Emmanuel’s son. This odd situation may have triggered Freud’s interest on family dynamics, leading to his ulterior formulations on the Oedipus Complex. Freud s family background was Jewish, though his father was a freethinker and Freud himself was an assured atheist. Within his home he was known as the golden child . He was treated with the most respect in his house, one incident in particular is when he was trying to study and his sisters were playing the piano and were told to stop because they were disturbing Sigmund. As a child he would keep written descriptions of his dreams, ironically he would later write one the greatest books on psychology The Interpretation of Dreams.
Sigmund Freud showed signs of independence and brilliance well before entering the University of Vienna in 1873. He had a prodigious memory and loved reading to the point of running himself into debt at various bookstores. As a child Sigmund learned six languages, two of which were self taught. To avoid disruption of his studies, he often ate in his room. When Freud was eight years old, he was reading Shakespeare, Goethe, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzche. Inspired by the scientific investigations of the German poet Goethe, Freud was driven by an intense desire to study natural science and to solve some of the challenging problems confronting contemporary scientists.
Though he was intellectual he still suffered hardship due to him being Jewish. An incident in which Freud remembered in one day his father came home and described a story of a man who knocked Freud s father s hat off because he was Jewish. Sigmund expecting a brilliant response was mortified to learn that his father did nothing but pick his hat off the ground and continue on. Sigmund was outraged by his fathers actions and swore that if the time came he would stand up for himself. This anger towards his father for not defending himself can also be seen as an underlining cause for the development of his Oedipus Complex.
Having considered studying law previously, he decided instead on a career in medical research, beginning his studies at Vienna University (1873). His true love was for medicine above all; the idea of studying practicing medicine to him. As a student, Freud began research work on the central nervous system, guided by Ernst von Br cke (1876), and qualified as doctor of medicine in 1881. He worked at the Theodor Meynert’s Psychiatric Clinic (1882-83) and later studied with Charcot, at the Salpetri re, in Paris (1885). He didn t receive his medical degree until 1881 because he saw neurological research was so engrossing that he neglected the prescribed course and remained in school for three years longer than was normally required.
After medical school, Freud spent three years at the General Hospital of Vienna, devoting himself successively to psychiatry, dermatology, and nervous disease; in 1885 he left his post at the hospital. Freud began a private practice, specializing in nervous disorders. He was soon faced with patients whose disorders made no neurological sense. For example, a patient might have lost feeling in his foot with no evidence with no evidence to any sensory damage. He wondered if the problem could be psychological rather physiological. Freud s first published work, On Aphasia, appeared in 1891; it was a study of the neurological disorder in which the ability to pronounce words or to name common objects is lost as a result of organic brain disease. His final work in neurology, an article, Infantile Cerebral Paralysis, was written in 1897 for an encyclopedia, since by this time Freud was occupied largely with psychological rather than physiological explanations for mental disorder.He recorded his valuation and constructed his theories in 24 volumes published between 1888 and 1939.
While exploring the possible psychological roots of nervous disorders, Freud spent several months in Paris, studying with Jean Charcot, a French neurologist from whom he learned hypnosis. On return to Vienna, Freud began to hypnotize patients and encouraging them while under hypnosis to speak openly about themselves and the onset of their symptoms. It was in this way that Freud discovered what he termed the unconscious. Freud s new orientation which he named Psychoanalysis in 1896 was heralded by his collaborative work on hysteria with Viennese physician Josef Breuer. The work was presented in 1893 in a preliminary paper and two years later in an expanded form under the title Studies on Hysteria. The publication of this work marked the beginning of psychoanalytic theory formulated on the basis of clinical observations.
Freud believed that by piecing together his patients accounts of their lives, he decided that the loss of feelings in one s hand might be caused by, say, the fear of hearing or seeing something that might arouse grief or distress. Over time, Freud saw hundreds of patients. He soon recognized that hypnosis was not as helpful as he had first hoped. He then pioneered a new technique termed free association. Patients were told to relax and say whatever came to mind, no matter how horrifying or irrelevant. Freud believed that free association produced a chain of thought that was linked to the unconscious, and often painful, memories of childhood. And this is where Psychoanalysis begins. Underlying Freud s psychoanalytic perception of personality was his belief that the mind was akin to an iceberg- most of it is hidden from view. The conscious awareness is the part of the iceberg that is above the surface but below the surface is a much larger unconscious region that contains feelings, wishes memories which persons are largely unaware. Some thoughts are stored temporarily in a preconscious area, from where they can be retrieved at will. However, Freud was more interested in the mass of thought and feelings repressed- forcibly blocked from conscious thought because it would be too painful to acknowledge. Freud believed that dreams and slips of tongue and pen were windows to his patient s unconscious. Intrusive thoughts or seemingly trivial errors while reading, writing and speaking suggested to Freud that what is said and done reflects the working of the unconscious. Jokes especially were an outlet for expressing repressed sexual and aggressive tendencies. For Freud, there were no accidents. Freud believed that human personality, expressed emotions, strivings, biological impulses and the social restraints against their expression. This conflict between expression and repression, in ways that bring the achievement of satisfaction without punishment or guilt, drives the development of personality. Freud divided the elements of that conflict into three interacting systems: the id, ego, and the superego. Freud did not propose a new, naive anatomy, but saw these terms as useful aids to understanding the mind s dynamics. The id is a reservoir of unconscious psychic energy that continually toils to satisfy basic drives to survive, reproduce and aggress. The id operates on the pleasure principle- if unconstrained, it seeks instantaneous gratification. It is exemplified by a new born child who cries out for satisfaction the moment it feels hungry tired, uncomfortable- oblivious to conditions, wishes, or expectations of their environment. As the child learns to deal with the real world, his ego develops. The ego operates on the reality principle, which seeks to superintend the id s impulses in realistic ways to accomplish pleasure in practical ways, avoiding pain in the process. The ego contains partly conscious, thoughts, judgments, and memories. The ego arbitrates between impulsive demands of the id, the restraining demands of the superego and the real-life demands of the external world. Around 4 or 5, a child s ego recognizes the demands of the newly emerging superego. The superego is the voice of conscience that forces the ego to consider not only the real but also the ideal. Its focus is on how one should behave. The superego develops as the child internalizes the morals and values of parents and culture, thereby providing both a sense of right, wrong, and set of ideals. It strives for perfection and judges our actions, producing positive feelings of pride or negative feelings of guilt. Someone with an exceptionally strong superego may be continually upright and socially correct yet ironically harbor guilt-, another with a weak superego may be wantonly self-indugent and remorseless. Because the superego s demands often oppose the id s, the ego struggles to reconcile the two. Analysis of his patients histories convinced Freud that personality forms during a person s first few years. Again and again his patients symptoms seemed rooted in unresolved conflicts from early childhood. He concluded that children pass through a series of psychosexual stages during which the id s pleasure-seeking focus on distinct pleasure-sensitive areas of the body he called erogenous zones. During the oral stage, usually the first 18 months, an infant s sensual pleasure focuses on sucking,biting, and chewing. During the anal stage, from about 18 months to 3 years, the sphincter muscles become sensitive and controllable, and bowel and bladder retention and elimination become a source of gratification. During the phallic stage, from roughly ages 3 to 6 years, the pleasure zones shift to the genitals. Freud believed that during this stage boys seek genital stimulation and develop unconscious sexual desires for their mothers along with jealousy and hatred for their father, whom they consider a rival. Boys feel unrecognized guilt for their rivalry and a fear that their father will punish them, such as by castration. This collection of feelings he named the Oedipus Complex after the Greek legend of Oedipus, who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother. Originally Freud hypothesized that females experienced a parallel Electra Complex. However, in time Freud changed his mind, saying, It is only in the male child that we find the fateful combination of love for one parent and simultaneous hatred for the other as a rival. Children eventually cope with these threatening feelings by repressing them then identifying with and trying to become like the rival parent. Through this identification process children s superegos gain strength as they incorporate many of their parents values. Freud believed that identification with the same sex parent provides our gender identity- the sense of being male or female. With their sexual feelings repressed and redirected, children enter a latency stage. Freud maintained that during the latency period, extending from about 6 to puberty, sexuality is dormant and children play mostly with peers of the same sex. At puberty, latency gives way to the final stage-the genital stage- as youths begin to experience sexual feelings towards others. In Freud s view, maladaptive behavior in the adult results from conflicts unresolved during earlier psychosexual stages. At any point in the oral, anal, or phallic stages, strong conflict can lock, or fixate, the person s pleasure-seeking energies in that stage. Thus people who were either orally overindulged or deprived, perhaps by acting tough and macho. They might continue to smoke or eat excessively to satisfy their needs for oral gratification. Those who never never resolve their anal conflict, a desire to eliminate at will that combats to demands of toilet training, may be both messy and disorganized( anal-expulsive ) or highly controlled and compulsively neat ( anal-retention ). To live in social groups, impulses cannot be freely acted on. They must be controlled in logical, socially acceptable ways. When the ego fears losing control of the inner struggle between the demands of the id and the superego, the result is anxiety. Anxiety, said Freud, is the price paid for civilization. Unlike specific fears, the dark cloud of anxiety is unfocused. Anxiety is therefore, difficult to cope with, as when we feel unsettled but have no basis for feeling that way. Freud proposed that the ego protects itself against anxiety with ego defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms reduce or redirect anxiety in various ways, but always by distorting reality. Such examples follow: 1. Regression banishes anxiety arousing thoughts and feelings from consciousness. According to Freud, repression underlies every defenses mechanisms, each of which can disguise threatening impulses and keep them from reaching consciousness. Freud believed that repression explains why lust a parent is not remembered from childhood. However, he also believed that repression is often incomplete, with the repressed urges seeping out in dream symbols and slips of the tongue. 2. Regression- retreating to an earlier, more infantile stage of development where some psychic energy still fixates. Thus, when facing the the anxious first days of school, a child may result to the oral comfort of thumb sucking. 3. In reaction formation, the ego unconsciously makes unacceptable proposition of I hate him, may become I love him. Timidity becomes daring. Feelings of inadequacy become bravado. According to the principle behind this defense mechanism, vehement social crusaders, may be motivated by the very sexual desires against which they are crusading. 4. Projection disguises threatening impulses by attributing them to others. Thus, He hates me, may be a projection of the actual feeling, I hate myself. According to Freudian theory, racial prejudice may be the result of projecting one s own unacceptable impulses or characteristics onto members of another group. 5. The familiar mechanism of rationalization allows people to unconsciously generate self-justifying to hide from the real reasons for certain actions. Thus students who fail to study may realized, All work and no play makes Jill a dull person. 6. Displacement diverts one sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more psychologically acceptable object than the one that aroused them. For example a student upset about a bad grade may snap at their roommate. 7. Sublimation is the transformation of unacceptable into socially valued motivations. Sublimination is therefore socially adaptive and may even be a wellspring for great cultural and artistic achievements. Freud suggested the da Vinci s paintings of Madonna s were a sublimation of his longing for intimacy with his mother, from whom he was separated at a very young age. In 1900, Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams, and introduced the wider public the notion of the unconscious mind. In 1901, he published The Psychopathogy of Everyday Life, in which he theorized Freudian slips. In 1902, Freud was appointed professor at the University of Vienna, though under much controversy, he began to gather a devoted following. By 1906 there were 17 disciples, and soon more, who formed a Psychoanalytic Society. Other such groups emerged in other cities. From time to time sparks would fly and even a member would leave or be outcast. Even the ideas of the outcasts, however, reflected Freud s influence. Freud continued working, developing his theories, writing which produced a stunning volume of work. In 1909 he made his first international presentation of his theories, at Clark University in Massachusetts. His name was becoming a household word. In 1923, he was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw, a result of years of smoking cigars. He was 67. He would have 30 operations over the next 16 years to treat the progressive disease. Meanwhile, a political cancer was growing in Europe. By 33, The nazi party had risen to power in Germany. They burned books by Freud, among others. They took over Austria in 1938. Freud s Passport was confiscated, but his fame and the influence of foreigners persuaded the occupying forces to let him go, he and his fled to England. He died there in September 1939.
I do not think there can be anything else said, but of course there is but there not much space left. Sigmund Freud, when explored and understood and when applied to one s own being and reality. It not only raises many questions but it can also answer a lot of them. In my studies of The meanings and understandings of Sigmund Freud I ve come to see that many of his concepts apply to everyday instances. I think he was one of the most interesting and amazing men who seemed to be destined for genius. His ideas while very controversial for his time were the most intellectual for any period. He is to a God to the science of psychology. I most say that the time I ve had to understand his concepts have been the most enlightening of my life.