Sigmund Freud Essay, Research Paper
The brain, an organ we all have. It is an organ whose power can overcome any challenge. The brain holds what we know as the human unconscious mind. This is a place filled with mysteries and contradictions. It is almost impossible to regard a person’s brain without an involuntary tingle of curiosity: what lay deep within the coralline gray whorls of this small, delicate kingdom? What happens along its intricate hallways, within the fine cerebral network of axons and dendrites, whose tiny, myriad sparkings are the physical basis of thought? What thoughts and unique ideas does this lump of flesh hold in its chambers so as to subvert the mind of its owner and warp his will to pure deadly evil or to pure luscious love and joy? What minotaur lurks in these vast chambers of power and knowledge? Who shall finally be the one to find the thread that will help us map this maze and slay this beast of mystery? One can not say. But there was one man. This Theseus of modern day science was the first to explore the deep and vast systematic chambers of the human unconscious mind. His ideas profoundly influenced the shape of modern day society by altering mans view of himself. This modern day Jason who found the thread and began to slay the beast of mystery goes by the name of SIGMUND FREUD.
Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856 in Freiberg, Moravia (now Pribor, Czech Republic)and was the oldest of his father’s second wife. Freuds father, Jakob, encouraged his intellectually gifted son and passed on to him a tradition of skeptical and independent thinking. Freud shared his mother’s attention with seven younger brothers and sisters, but nevertheless he always remained close to his mother. At the young age of 8 he would stand in front of his mother reciting Shakespeare and Darwin. His mother Amalie Freud had high hopes for her oldest son–and those hopes would eventually be realized.1
Freuds literary gifts and insights into human motives and emotions were first apparent in some letters he wrote during adolescence. Later on he considered studying law but decided instead on a career in medical research. Guided by contemporaries such as Ernst Von Brucke and Theodor Meynert, Freud began on a promising research career. His later monographs on aphasia and on infantile cerebral paralysis were both the culmination of his neurological research and an usher of his blossoming psychological insight. In 1886 he married Martha Bernays. In order to support his wife he turned from research to the clinical practice of neurology. By that time Freuds interest in hysteria had been stimulated by Josef Breuer’s successful use of therapeutic hypnosis. Freud took up Breuer’s “cathartic method” and they published their findings in Studies in Hysteria, which outlined their “talking cure” and is generally regarded as the beginning of psychoanalysis. Breuer lost interest when sexuality emerged as central to Freuds view of neurosis.2
Freud, devoting himself to the new science, discarded authoritarian and cumbersome hypnosis by enlisting his patients’ cooperation in “free association” 3. This enabled him to notice the unconsciously motivated resistance of a patient to revealing repressed thoughts and memories, especially sexual ideas. The central discovery of this approach was the unconscious shift of feelings associated with persons in the patients past to the therapist. A comprehensive exposition of the new science of psychoanalysis, The Interpretations of Dreams, was regarded by Freud as his greatest book. At first the book was ignored; gradually however, a number of persons gathered around Freud to study and apply his revolutionary discoveries. Of his early followers, Alfred Adler and C. G. Jung left to form their own schools of psychology, largely because they could not accept infantile sexuality as vital.
Freud’s creativity would continue almost undiminished for almost four decades, during which he developed the technique for psychoanalytic treatment of neuroses and established the guiding principles of psychoanalysis. Shortly after World War I, Freud learned he had cancer of the jaw, to which he would give in after 17 years of pain and disability and 33 operations. When the Nazi occupation of Austria threatened his work and life, he moved to England. He died there on September 23,1939. Indeed, Freud created a wholly new field of scientific inquiry which investigates a human’s internal world through controlled methods of introspection and empathy. Freuds ideas aroused considerable hostility during his time, particularly among his medical colleagues. With psychoanalysis, Freud added psychological treatment methods to the biological basis of psychiatry. Beyond that, Freud’s concepts–such as the powerful influence of the unconscious thought and behavior and the equally powerful influence of the apparently forgotten past on the present–have become part of our culture. Just as Theseus forever changed his fathers empire when he slayed the minotaur, Freud did when he vanquished the mysteries of the human mind.