Sigmund Freud

10 Things You May Not Know About Sigmund Freud

1. Freud’s death may have been a physician-assisted suicide.By the summer of 1939, Freud was frail and suffering intense pain from terminal, inoperable mouth cancer. On September 21, 1939, Freud grasped the hand of his friend and doctor, Max Schur, and reminded him of his more

Sigmund Freud's Life and Contributions to Psychology

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Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who is perhaps most known as the founder of psychoanalysis. Freud developed a set of therapeutic techniques centered on talk therapy that involved the use of strategies such as transference, free association, and dream interpretation.

Psychoanalysis became a dominating school of thought during the early years of psychology and remains quite influential today. In addition to his influence on psychology, Freud's ideas have permeated popular culture and concepts such as Freudian slips, the unconscious, wish fulfillment, and the ego are even commonly used in everyday language.

Sigmund Freud: Life, Work & Theories

Though his ideas were controversial, Sigmund Freud was one of the most influential scientists in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. It has been over 100 years since Freud published his theories, yet he still influences what we think about personality and the mind.

Freud was born to a wool merchant and his second wife, Jakob and Amalie, in Freiberg, Moravia, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, on May 6, 1856. This town is now known as Příbor and is located in the Czech Republic.

For most of his life, he was raised in Vienna, and he was married there in 1886 to Martha Bernays. They had six children. His daughter, Anna Freud, also became a distinguished psychoanalyst.

In 1909, Freud came to the United States and made a presentation of his theories at Clark University in Massachusetts. This was his first presentation outside of Vienna. By this point, he was very famous, even with laymen.

In 1923, at age 67, Freud was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw after many years of smoking cigars. His treatment included 30 operations over the next 16 years, according to the PBS program, "A Science Odyssey."

Freud lived his adult life in Vienna until it was occupied by Germany in 1938. Though Jewish, Freud's fame saved him, for the most part. The Nazi party burned his books throughout Germany, but they let him leave Austria after briefly confiscating his passport. He and his wife fled to England, where he died in September 1939.

In 1873, Freud entered the University of Vienna medical school. In 1882, he became a clinical assistant at the General Hospital in Vienna and trained with psychiatrist Theodor Meynert and Hermann Nothnagel, a professor of internal medicine. By 1885, Freud had completed important research on the brain's medulla and was appointed lecturer in neuropathology, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Freud's friend, Josef Breuer, a physician and physiologist, had a large impact on the course of Freud's career. Breuer told his friend about using hypnosis to cure a patient, Bertha Pappenheim (referred to as Anna O.), of what was then called hysteria. Breuer would hypnotize her, and she was able to talk about things she could not remember in a conscious state. Her symptoms were relieved afterwards. This became known as the "talking cure." Freud then traveled to Paris to study further under Jean-Martin Charcot, a neurologist famous for using hypnosis to treat hysteria.

After this new line of study, Freud returned to his hometown in 1886 and opened a practice that specialized in nervous and brain disorders. He found that hypnosis didn't work as well as he had hoped. He instead developed a new way to get people to talk freely. He would have patients lie back on a couch so that they were comfortable and then he would tell them to talk about whatever popped into their head. Freud would write down whatever the person would say, and analyze what they had said. This method of treatment is called free association. He published his findings with Breuer in 1895, in a paper called Studien über Hysterie (Studies in Hysteria).

In 1896, Freud coined the term psychoanalysis. This is the treatment of mental disorders, emphasizing on the unconscious mental processes. It is also called "depth psychology."

Freud also developed what he thought of as the three agencies of the human personality, called the id, ego and superego. The id is the primitive instincts, such as sex and aggression. The ego is the "self" part of the personality that interacts with the world in which the person lives. The superego is the part of the personality that is ethical and creates the moral standards for the ego.

In 1900, Freud broke ground in psychology by publishing his book "The Interpretation of Dreams." In his book, Freud named the mind's energy libido and said that the libido needed to be discharged to ensure pleasure and prevent pain. If it wasn't released physically, the mind's energy would be discharged through dreams.

The book explained Freud's belief that dreams were simply wish fulfillment and that the analysis of dreams could lead to treatment for neurosis. He concluded that there were two parts to a dream. The "manifest content" was the obvious sight and sounds in the dream and the "latent content" was the dream's hidden meaning.

"The Interpretation of Dreams" took two years to write. He only made $209 from the book, and it took eight years to sell 600 copies, according to PBS.

In 1901, he published "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life," which gave life to the saying "Freudian slip." Freud theorized that forgetfulness or slips of the tongue are not accidental. They are caused by the "dynamic unconscious" and reveal something meaningful about the person.

In 1902, Freud became a professor at the University of Vienna. Soon, he gained followers and formed what was called the Psychoanalytic Society. Groups like this one formed in other cities, as well. Other famous psychologists, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Jung, were early followers of Freud.

In 1905, one of Feud's most controversial theories, those about sexual drive, was published as "Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie (Three Contributions to the Sexual Theory)." He theorized that sexual drive is a large factor in determining a person's psychology, even in infants, an idea he had touched upon in earlier works. He also developed the theory of the "Oedipus complex." This theory states that boys have sexual attractions toward their mothers that can create jealousy toward the father.

Another of Freud's controversial sexual theories was talked about in his 1933 lecture titled "Femininity." The theory, which he called "penis envy," stated that females become envious of penises as children, and this envy manifests as a daughter's love for her father and the desire to give birth to a son, because those are as close as she would ever get to having a penis of her own.

Freud is often joked about for his propensity to assign everything with sexual meaning. A likely apocryphal story is that, when someone suggested that the cigars he smoked were phallic symbols, Freud reportedly said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." Some have called this "Freud&rsquos ultimate anti-Freudian joke." However, there is no written record that this quote actually came from Freud, according to Alan C. Elms in a paper published in 2001 in the Annual of Psychoanalysis.

There has been much arguing in psychology and psychiatry circles about Freud's theories during his life and since his death, which may just prove his ideas, according to some. "Freud discovered and taught about the unconscious mind and psychological defenses, including denial and repression," said Dr. Carole Lieberman, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who studied under Anna Freud at her London clinic and practices Freudian psychoanalytic therapy. "So, in fact, in trying to deny Freud's insights, people are actually affirming them."

5. Early Life

Freud was given the name Sigismund Schlomo Freud at birth on May 6, 1856, in Freiberg, which is now part of the Czech Republic. Freiberg at the time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His parents were Jewish, and his father worked as a wool merchant. The family settled in Vienna where Freud went to school. He exhibited high academic abilities, particularly in the fields of math, Latin, Greek, history, and science. Freud was proficient in German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. He was admitted to the University of Vienna at 17 years of age to pursue medicine and graduated in 1881.

Professional Life

After working with Joseph Breur at the Vienna General Hospital, Freud traveled to Paris to study hypnosis under Jean-Martin Charcot. When he returned to Vienna the following year, Freud opened his first medical practice and began specializing in brain and nervous disorders. Freud soon determined that hypnosis was an ineffective method to achieve the results he desired, and he began to implement a form of talking therapy with his patients. This method became recognized as a &ldquotalking cure&rdquo and the goal was to encourage the patient to tap into the unconscious mind and let go of the repressed energy and emotions therein. Freud called this function repression and felt that this action hindered the development of emotional and physical functionality, which he referred to as psychosomatic. The element of using talk therapy eventually became the foundation of psychoanalysis.

Wertheimer, Koffka, Köhler and Gestalt Psychology

Figure 3. When you look at this image, you may see a duck or a rabbit. The sensory information remains the same, but your perception can vary dramatically.

Figure 4. The “invisible” triangle you see here is an example of gestalt perception.

Unfortunately, in moving to the United States, these men were forced to abandon much of their work and were unable to continue to conduct research on a large scale. These factors along with the rise of behaviorism (described next) in the United States prevented principles of Gestalt psychology from being as influential in the United States as they had been in their native Germany (Thorne & Henley, 2005). Despite these issues, several Gestalt principles are still very influential today. Considering the human individual as a whole rather than as a sum of individually measured parts became an important foundation in humanistic theory late in the century. The ideas of Gestalt have continued to influence research on sensation and perception.

Structuralism, Freud, and the Gestalt psychologists were all concerned in one way or another with describing and understanding inner experience. But other researchers had concerns that inner experience could be a legitimate subject of scientific inquiry and chose instead to exclusively study behavior, the objectively observable outcome of mental processes.

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Think It Over

Freud is probably one of the most well-known historical figures in psychology. Where have you encountered references to Freud or his ideas about the role that the unconscious mind plays in determining conscious behavior?


Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) wrote a tremendous amount about obsessional neurosis. The excerpt below, a rather long one, is from a lecture he gave in 1916-1917 in which he offered a symbolic interpretation of a young woman's compulsive bedtime ritual.

[L]et us turn to my second example, which is of quite a different kind&mdasha sample of a very common species, a sleep-ceremonial.

A nineteen-year-old girl, well developed and gifted, was the only child of parents to whom she was superior in education and intellectual liveliness. As a child she had been wild and high-spirited, and in the course of the last few years had changed, without any visible cause, into a neurotic. We will not concern ourselves much with her complicated illness, which called for at least two diagnoses&mdashagoraphobia and obsessional neurosis&mdashbut will dwell only on the fact that she also developed a sleep-ceremonial, with which she tormented her parents. Our present patient put forward as a pretext for her nightly precautions that she needed quiet in order to sleep and must exclude every source of noise. With that end in view she did two kinds of things. The big clock in her room was stopped, all the other clocks or watches in the room were removed, and her tiny wrist-watch was not allowed even to be inside her bedside table. Flower-pots and vases were collected on the writing-table so that they might not fall over in the night and break, and disturb her in her sleep. She was aware that these measures could find only an ostensible justification in the rule in favour of quiet: the ticking of the little watch would not have been audible even if it had been left lying on the top of the bedside table, and we have all had experience of the fact that the regular ticking of a pendulum-clock never disturbs sleep but acts, rather, as a soporific. She admitted too that her fear that flower-pots and vases, if they were left in their places, might fall over and break of the own accord lacked all plausibility. In the case of other stipulations made by the ceremonial the need for quiet was dropped as a basis. Indeed, the requirement that the door between her room and her parents' bedroom should stay half-open&mdashthe fulfilment of which she ensured by placing various objects in the open doorway&mdashseemed on the contrary to act as a source of disturbing noises. But the most important stipulations related to the bed itself. The pillow at the top end of the bed must not touch the wooden back of the bedstead. The small top-pillow must lie on this large pillow in one specific way only&mdashnamely, so as to form a diamond shape. Her head had then to lie exactly along the long diameter of the diamond. The eiderdown (or 'Duchent' as we call it in Austria) [also called a duvet] had to be shaken before being laid on the bed so that its bottom end became very thick afterwards, however, she never failed to even out this accumulation of feathers by pressing them apart.

With your leave I will pass over the remaining, often very trivial, details of the ceremonial they would teach us nothing new, and would lead us too far afield from our aims. But you must not overlook the fact that all this was not carried out smoothly. There was always an apprehension that things might not have been done properly. Everything must be checked and repeated, doubts assailed first one and then another of the safety measures, and the result was that one or two hours were spent, during which the girl herself could not sleep and would not allow her intimidated parents to sleep either.

The analysis of these torments did not proceed so simply. I was obliged to give the girl hints and propose interpretations, which were always rejected with a decided 'no' or accepted with contemptuous doubt. But after this first reaction of rejection there followed a time during which she occupied herself with the possibilities put before her, collected associations to them, produced recollections and made connections, until by her own work she had accepted all the interpretations. In proportion as this happened, she relaxed the performance of her obsessional measures, and even before the end of the treatment she had given up the whole ceremonial.

Our patient gradually came to learn that it was as symbols of the female genitals that clocks were banished from her equipment for the night. Clocks and watches&mdashthough elsewhere we have found other symbolic interpretations for them&mdashhave arrived at a genital role owing to their relation to periodic processes and equal intervals of time. A woman may boast that her menstruation behaves with the regularity of clockwork. Our patient's anxiety, however, was directed in particular against being disturbed in her sleep by the ticking of a clock. The ticking of a clock may be compared with the knocking or throbbing in the clitoris during sexual excitement. She had in fact been repeatedly woken from her sleep by this sensation, which had now become distressing to her and she gave expression to this fear of an erection in the rule that all clocks and watches that were going should be removed from her neighbourhood at night. Flower-pots and vases, like all vessels, are also female symbols. Taking precautions against their falling and being broken at night was thus not without its good sense. We know the widespread custom of breaking a vessel or plate at betrothal ceremonies. Each man present gets hold of a fragment, and we may regard this as a sign of his resigning the claims he had upon the bride in virtue of a marriage-regulation dating from before the establishment of monogamy. In connection with this part of her ceremonial the girl produced a recollection and several associations. Once when she was a child she had fallen down while she was carrying a glass or china vase and had cut her finger and bled profusely. When she grew up and came to know the facts about sexual intercourse she formed an anxious idea that on her wedding-night she would not bleed and would thus fail to show that she was a virgin. Her precautions against vases being broken thus meant a repudiation of the whole complex concerned with virginity and bleeding at the first intercourse&mdasha repudiation equally of the fear of bleeding and of the contrary fear of not bleeding. These precautions, which she subsumed under her avoidance of noise, had only a remote connection with it.

She found out the central meaning of her ceremonial one day when she suddenly understood the meaning of the rule that the pillow must not touch the back of the bedstead. The pillow, she said, had always been a woman to her and the upright wooden back a man. Thus she wanted&mdashby magic, we must interpolate&mdashto keep the man and woman apart&mdashthat is, to separate her parents from each other, not to allow them to have sexual intercourse.

If a pillow was a woman, then the shaking of the eiderdown till all the feathers were at the bottom and caused a swelling there had a sense as well. It meant making a woman pregnant but she never failed to smooth away the pregnancy again, for she had for years been afraid that her parents' intercourse would result in another child and so present her with a competitor. On the other hand, if the big pillow was a woman, the mother, then the small top-pillow could only stand for the daughter. Why did this pillow have to be placed diamond-wise and her head precisely along its centre line? It was easy to recall to her that this diamond shape is the inscription scribbled on every wall to represent the open female genitals. If so, she herself was playing the man and replacing the male organ by her head.

Wild thoughts, you will say, to be running through an unmarried girl's head. I admit that is so. But you must not forget that I did not make these things but only interpreted them.

NOTE: For a devastating critique of Freud's interpretation of this compulsive ritual, see Dolnick, 1998, p. 251.

Sigmund Freud - HISTORY

Freud's famous visit to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, September 10, 1909

Sigmund Freud, the famous Viennese architect of psychoanalysis, had a significant influence on modern adoption theory and practice. So did his daughter Anna Freud, who carried on her father’s legacy after his death in 1939 and became well known in her own right as a developmental researcher, a child analyst, and a theorist of “psychological parenthood.”

Freudian ideas about unconscious desires, erotic instincts, and critical childhood stages in the formation of adult personality and behavior shaped the way that many parents and professionals thought about adoption, especially its special challenges and potential hazards. Early in the twentieth century, physicians, artists, and feminists were in the vanguard of Americans interested in psychoanalysis. Freud lectured at Clark University in 1909 and his translated writings made him a more popular figure in the United States than in any other country in the world. Freud always maintained that the American version of psychoanalysis was hopelessly naive and ridiculously optimistic—he called it a “gigantic mistake”—but Americans paid little attention. They embraced psychoanalysis as a practical means to cure a variety of ailments related to personal adjustment, sexual happiness, and family life. Adoption was just one example.

One starting point for Freud’s approach to development was the belief that becoming an individual required escape, over the course of childhood, from the absolute power and love of parents. In order to accomplish this liberation, he argued, children invariably called upon fantasies—acted out in play and daydreams—and imagined that their “real” parents were much better, kinder, and more exalted than the imperfect people who were actually raising them. Freud called these comforting but entirely fabricated fairy tales the “family romance.” The fictional stories that children told themselves about their origins mattered because they linked Freudian theory directly to adoption.

Freud’s prototypical “family romance”—the one he assumed virtually all children experienced and occasionally remembered—was an adoption scenario. This scenario was developmentally useful precisely because it remained imaginary. It allowed children to safely express ambivalence and anger toward their parents, all the while encouraging them to develop independent identities necessary to becoming a healthy adults.

What worked for most children, however, caused definite problems for children who actually were adopted. Adoptees who imagined another set of parents were not engaged in benign falsehood. They were facing up to reality. “There is a real element of mystery in the illegitimate child’s background which makes such correction by reality either impossible or unconvincing,” wrote social worker Mary Brisley in 1939. The convergence of fantasy and real life was the key issue for psychoanalytically inclined clinicians in social work and psychiatry whose interests included adoption. Viola Bernard, Florence Clothier, Leontine Young, and Marshall Schechter were just a few examples. Psychoanalytic ideas crowded the adoption world from World War II on. Erik Erikson’s concepts of “identity” and “identity crisis” were among the most widely disseminated Freudian ideas, applicable to adolescent development and youth movements in general as well as adoption in particular.

Because the loss of natal parents was an all-too-real component of adoption, the family romances of adopted children pointed toward unanswered and sometimes unanswerable questions. Who were my birth parents? Why did they give me away? Was there something wrong with me? Such painful dilemmas were deeply implicated in the problematic self-images and flawed relationships that some adoptees manifested, and that came to the attention of clinicians. It is not surprising that parents and professionals who took the Freudian family romance seriously favored adoption policies and practices, such as matching, that tried to erase natal kinship, hence concealing the emotionally difficult truth that one set of parents had been lost and replaced with another.

Even at the height of enthusiasm about confidentiality and sealed records, the ritual of telling children about their adoptions acknowledged that adoptees were different than their non-adopted peers. Adoptees’ family romances were more like nightmares than daydreams, and they had the potential to produce deep sadness and distress. Knowing that they had indeed been given away, and feeling that their very selfhood was divided and incomplete, adoptees were at special risk for a range of psychopathologies. Freud’s developmental theory implied that adoptees faced emotional challenges inseparable from the adoption process itself, hence anticipating and helping to bring into being more recent concerns with loss and attachment.

Psychoanalytic approaches to birth parents and adoptive parents also circulated widely in medicine, social work, clinical psychology, and the popular press. By midcentury, illegitimacy was widely perceived as the result of unhappy and destructive parent-child relationships that remained both unconscious and unresolved in adolescence and adulthood. Seen through this Freudian lens, adoptions of children born to unmarried women were no longer tragedies to be avoided, but constructive acts that transferred children to adoptive parents whose psychological (and other) qualifications were superior to those of their neurotic birth mothers. On the other hand, the infertility that logically motivated married couples to adopt was also suspected of having unconscious sources that might signal neurosis or worse.

All parties to adoption, in other words, shared some form of psychological dysfunction. After 1945, the goal of home studies and other therapeutic practices was increasingly to guarantee that professionals trained in psychoanalysis and other human sciences would play a crucial managerial role in the adoption process. Even Jessie Taft, a leading educator who disliked the orthodox Freudian emphasis on trauma—it “implies fear of life itself” she wrote in dismay—believed that skilled psychological interpretation and help belonged at the heart of adoption. With the skills to explore the emotional minefield that placement exposed, the psychological engineers who oversaw family-formation confirmed that adoption was abnormal while also promising to normalize it. Sigmund Freud’s chief legacy, in adoption and elsewhere in American culture, was to multiply deviations and simultaneously insist on their cure.


Freud did not believe in the existence of a supernatural force that has pre-programmed us to behave in a certain way. His idea of the id explains why people act out in certain ways when it is not in line with the ego or superego. "Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires." [2] Freud believed that people rely on religion to give explanations for anxieties and tension they do not want to consciously believe in. Freud argued that humanity created God in their image. This reverses the idea of any type of religion because he believed that it is constructed by the mind. The role of the mind is something that Freud repeatedly talked about because he believed that the mind is responsible for both conscious and unconscious decisions based on drives and forces. The idea that religion causes people to behave in a moral way is incorrect according to Freud because he believed that no other force has the power to control the ways in which people act. Unconscious desires motivate people to act accordingly. Freud did a significant amount of research studying how people act and interact in a group setting. He believed that people act in different ways according to the demands and constraints of the group as a whole. In his book Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, Freud argued that the church and organized religion form an "artificial group" which requires an external force to keep it together. In this type of group, everything is dependent on that external force and without it, the group would no longer exist. Groups are necessary, according to Freud in order to decrease the narcissism in all people, by creating libidinal ties with others by placing everyone at an equal level. The commonness among different people with different egos allows people to identify with one another. This relates to the idea of religion because Freud believed that people created religion in order to create these group ties that they unconsciously seek for.

Greek Theory Edit

According to Freud’s many theories of religion, the Oedipus complex is utilized in the understanding and mastery of religious beliefs. In Freud’s psychosexual stages, he mentioned the Oedipus complex and the Electra complex and how they affect children and their relationships with their same-sex parental figure. According to Freud, there is an unconscious desire for one’s mother to be a virgin and for one’s father to be an all-powerful, almighty figure. Freud’s interest in Greek mythology and religion greatly influenced his psychological theories. The Oedipus complex is when a boy is jealous of his father. The boy strives to possess his mother and ultimately replace his father as a means of no longer having to fight for her undivided attention and affection. Along with seeking his mother’s love, boys also experience castration anxiety which is the fear of losing his genitalia. Boys fear that their fathers will retaliate and castrate them as a result of desiring one’s mother. While the Oedipus complex presents itself in males, females experience a different form of incestuous rivalry known as the Electra complex. Girls become jealous of their mothers and begin to feel desire towards their fathers. Females also experience penis envy which is the parallel reaction to the male experience of castration anxiety. Females are jealous of their fathers’ penis and wish to have one as well. Girls then repress this feeling and instead long for a child of their own. This suppression leads to the girl identifying with her mother and acquiring feminine traits.

Psychoanalysis was founded by Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that people could be cured by making conscious their unconscious thoughts and motivations, thus gaining "insight". The aim of psychoanalysis therapy is to release repressed emotions and experiences, i.e. make the unconscious conscious. Psychoanalysis is commonly used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. It is only by having a cathartic (i.e. healing) experience can a person be helped and "cured".

Id Edit

The id according to Freud is the part of the unconscious that seeks pleasure. His idea of the id explains why people act out in certain ways when it is not in line with the ego or superego. The id is the part of the mind, which holds all of humankind’s most basic and primal instincts. It is the impulsive, unconscious part in the mind that is based on the desire to seek immediate satisfaction. The id does not have a grasp on any form of reality or consequence. Freud understood that some people are controlled by the id because it makes people engage in need-satisfying behavior without any accordance with what is right or wrong. Freud compared the id and the ego to a horse and a rider. The id is compared to the horse, which is directed and controlled, by the ego or the rider. This example goes to show that although the id is supposed to be controlled by the ego, they often interact with one another according to the drives of the ego.

Ego Edit

In order for people to maintain a realistic sense here on earth, the ego is responsible for creating a balance between pleasure and pain. It is impossible for all desires of the id to be met and the ego realizes this but continues to seek pleasure and satisfaction. Although the ego does not know the difference between right and wrong, it is aware that not all drives can be met at a given time. The reality principle is what the ego operates in order to help satisfy the id’s demands as well as compromising according to reality. The ego is a person’s "self" composed of unconscious desires. The ego takes into account ethical and cultural ideals in order to balance out the desires originating in the id. Although both the id and the ego are unconscious, the ego has close contact with the perceptual system. The ego has the function of self-preservation, which is why it has the ability to control the instinctual demands from the id.

"The ego is first and foremost a bodily ego it is not merely a surface entity but is itself the projection of a surface. If we wish to find an anatomical analogy for it we can best identify it with the ‘cortical homunculus’ of the anatomists, which stands on its head in the cortex, sticks up its heels, faces backward and, as we know, has its speech-area on the left-hand side. The ego is ultimately derived from bodily sensations, chiefly from those springing from the surface of the body. It may thus be regarded as a mental projection of the surface of the body, representing the superficies of the mental apparatus." [3]

Superego Edit

The superego, which develops around age four or five, incorporates the morals of society. Freud believed that the superego is what allows the mind to control its impulses that are looked down upon morally. The superego can be considered to be the conscience of the mind because it has the ability to distinguish between reality as well as what is right or wrong. Without the superego, Freud believed people would act out with aggression and other immoral behaviors because the mind would have no way of understanding the difference between right and wrong. The superego is considered to be the "consciousness" of a person’s personality and can override the drives from the id. Freud separates the superego into two separate categories the ideal self and the conscience. The conscience contains ideals and morals that exist within a society that prevent people from acting out based on their internal desires. The ideal self contains images of how people ought to behave according to society's ideals.

Freud believed that the answers to what controlled daily actions resided in the unconscious mind despite alternative views that all our behaviors were conscious. He felt that religion is an illusion based on human values that are created by the mind to overcome inner psychological conflict. [4] He believed that notions of the unconsciousness and gaps in the consciousness can be explained by acts of which the consciousness affords no evidence. The unconscious mind positions itself in every aspect of life whether one is dormant or awake. [5] Though one may be unaware of the impact of the unconscious mind, it influences the actions we engage in. [6] Human behavior may be understood by searching for an analysis of mental processes. This explanation gives significance to verbal slips and dreams. They are caused by hidden reasons in the mind displayed in concealed forms. Verbal slips of the unconscious mind are referred to as a Freudian slip. This is a term to explain a spoken mistake derived from the unconscious mind. Traumatizing information on thoughts and beliefs is blocked from the conscious mind. Slips expose our true thoughts stored in the unconscious. [7] Sexual instincts or drives have deeply hidden roots in the unconscious mind. Instincts act by giving vitality and enthusiasm to the mind through meaning and purpose. The ranges of instincts are in great numbers. Freud expressed them in two categories. One is Eros the self-preserving life instinct containing all erotic pleasures. While Eros is used for basic survival, the living instinct alone cannot explain all behavior according to Freud. [8] In contrast, Thanatos is the death instinct. It is full of self-destruction of sexual energy and our unconscious desire to die. [9] The main part of human behavior and actions is tied back to sexual drives. Since birth, the existence of sexual drives can be recognized as one of the most important incentives of life.

Freud's theory of psychosexual development is represented amongst five stages. According to Freud, each stage occurs within a specific time frame of one's life. If one becomes fixated in any of the four stages, he or she will develop personality traits that coincide with the specific stage and its focus.

    – The first stage is the oral stage. An infant is in this stage from birth to eighteen months of age. The main focus in the oral stage is pleasure-seeking through the infant’s mouth. During this stage, the need for tasting and sucking becomes prominent in producing pleasure. Oral stimulation is crucial during this stage if the infant’s needs are not met during this time frame he or she will be fixated in the oral stage. Fixation in this stage can lead to adult habits such as thumb-sucking, smoking, over-eating, and nail-biting. Personality traits can also develop during adulthood that is linked to oral fixation these traits can include optimism and independence or pessimism and hostility.
    – The second stage is the anal stage which lasts from eighteen months to three years of age. During this stage, the infant’s pleasure-seeking centers are located in the bowels and bladder. Parents stress toilet training and bowel control during this time period. Fixation in the anal stage can lead to anal-retention or anal-expulsion. Anal retentive characteristics include being overly neat, precise, and orderly while being anal expulsive involves being disorganized, messy, and destructive. – The third stage is the phallic stage. It begins at the age of three and continues until the age of six. Now sensitivity becomes concentrated in the genitals and masturbation (in both sexes) becomes a new source of pleasure. The child becomes aware of anatomical sex differences, which sets in motion the conflict of jealousy and fear which Freud called the Oedipus complex (in boys). Later the Freud scholars added Electra complex (in girls).
    – The fourth stage is the latency stage which begins at the age of six and continues until the age of eleven. During this stage there is no pleasure-seeking region of the body instead, all sexual feelings are repressed. Thus, children are able to develop social skills and find comfort through peer and family interaction.
    – The final stage of psychosexual development is the genital stage. This stage starts from eleven onwards, lasts through puberty, and ends when one reaches adulthood at the age of eighteen. The onset of puberty reflects strong interest from one person to another of the opposite sex. If one does not experience fixation in any of the psychosexual stages, once he or she has reached the genital stage, he or she will grow into a well-balanced human being.

Freud proposed a set of defense mechanisms in one's body. These set of defense mechanisms occur so one can hold a favorable or preferred view of themselves. For example, in a particular situation when an event occurs that violates one's preferred view of themselves, Freud stated that it is necessary for the self to have some mechanism to defend itself against this unfavorable event this is known as defense mechanisms. Freud's work on defense mechanisms focused on how the ego defends itself against internal events or impulses, which are regarded as unacceptable to one's ego. These defense mechanisms are used to handle the conflict between the id, the ego, and the superego.

Freud noted that a major drive for people is the reduction of tension and the major cause of tension was anxiety. [10] He identified three types of anxiety reality anxiety, neurotic anxiety, and moral anxiety. Reality anxiety is the most basic form of anxiety and is based on the ego. It is typically based on the fear of real and possible events, for example, being bit by a dog or falling off of a roof. Neurotic anxiety comes from an unconscious fear that the basic impulses of the id will take control of the person, leading to eventual punishment from expressing the id's desires. Moral anxiety comes from the superego. It appears in the form of a fear of violating values or moral codes and appears as feelings like guilt or shame.

When anxiety occurs, the mind's first response is to seek rational ways of escaping the situation by increasing problem-solving efforts and a range of defense mechanisms may be triggered. These are ways that the ego develops to help deal with the id and the superego. Defense mechanisms often appear unconsciously and tend to distort or falsify reality. When the distortion of reality occurs, there is a change in perception which allows for a lessening in anxiety resulting in a reduction of tension one experiences. Sigmund Freud noted a number of ego defenses that were noted throughout his work but his daughter, Anna Freud, developed and elaborated on them. The defense mechanisms are as follows: 1) Denial is believing that what is true is actually false 2) Displacement is taking out impulses on a less threatening target 3) Intellectualization is avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on the intellectual aspects 4) Projection is attributing uncomfortable feelings to others 5) Rationalization is creating false but believable justifications 6) Reaction Formation is taking the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety 7) Regression is going back to a previous stage of development 8) Repression is pushing uncomfortable thoughts out of conscious awareness 9) Suppression is consciously forcing unwanted thoughts out of our awareness 10) Sublimation is redirecting ‘wrong’ urges into socially acceptable actions. These defenses are not under our conscious control and our unconscious will use one or more to protect one's self from stressful situations. They are natural and normal and without these, neurosis develops such as anxiety states, phobias, obsessions, or hysteria.

Freud desired to understand religion and spirituality and deals with the nature of religious beliefs in many of his books and essays. He regarded God as an illusion, based on the infantile need for a powerful father figure. Freud believed that religion was an expression of underlying psychological neuroses and distress. In some of his writing, he suggested that religion is an attempt to control the Oedipal complex, as he goes on to discuss in his book Totem and Taboo.

In 1913, Freud published the book, Totem and Taboo. This book was an attempt to reconstruct the birth and the process of development of religion as a social institution. He wanted to demonstrate how the study of psychoanalysis is important in the understanding of the growth of civilization. This book is about how the Oedipus complex, which is when an infant develops an attachment for the mother early on in life, and incest taboo came into being and why they are present in all human societies. The incest taboo rises because of a desire for incest. The purpose of the totemic animal is not for group unity, but to re-enforce the incest taboo. The totemic animal is not a symbol of God but a symbol of the father and it is an important part of religious development. Totemism originates from the memory of an event in pre-history where the male group members eat the father figure due to a desire for the females. The guilt they feel for their actions and for the loss of a father figure leads them to prohibit incest in a new way. Totemism is a means of preventing incest and as a ritual reminder of the murder of the father. This shows that sexual desire, since there are many social prohibitions on sexual relations, is channeled through certain ritual actions and all societies adapt these rituals so that sexuality develops in approved ways. This reveals unconscious desires and their repression. Freud believes that civilization makes people unhappy because it contradicts the desire for progress, freedom, happiness, and wealth. Civilization requires the repression of drives and instructs such as sexual, aggression, and the death instinct in order that civilization can work.

According to Freud, religion originated in pre-historic collective experiences that became repressed and ritualized as totems and taboos. [11] He stated that most, if not all religions, can be traced back to early human sacrifice including Christianity in which Christ on the cross is a symbolic representation of killing the father and eating the father figure is shown with ‘the body of Christ’, also known as Communion. In this work, Freud attributed the origin of religion to emotions such as hatred, fear, and jealousy. These emotions are directed towards the father figure in the clan from the sons who are denied sexual desires towards the females. Freud attributed totem religions to be a result of extreme emotion, rash action, and the result of guilt. [12]

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life is one of the most important books in psychology. It was written by Freud in 1901 and it laid the basis for the theory of psychoanalysis. The book contains twelve chapters on forgetting things such as names, childhood memories, mistakes, clumsiness, slips of the tongue, and determinism of the unconscious. Freud believed that there were reasons that people forget things like words, names, and memories. He also believed that mistakes in speech, now referred to as a Freudian Slip, were not accidents but instead the "dynamic unconscious" revealing something meaningful.

Freud suggested that our every day psychopathology is a minor disturbance of mental life which may quickly pass away. Freud believed all of these acts to have an important significance the most trivial slips of the tongue or pen may reveal people's secret feelings and fantasies. Pathology is brought into the everyday life which Freud pointed out through dreams, forgetfulness, and parapraxes. He used these things to make his case for the existence of an unconscious that refuses to be explained or contained by consciousness. Freud explained how the forgetting of multiple events in our everyday life can be consequences of repression, suppression, denial, displacement, and identification. Defense mechanisms occur to protects one's ego so in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Freud stated, "painful memories merge into motivated forgetting which special ease". (p. 154)

Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, sometimes titled Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex, written in 1905 by Sigmund Freud explores and analyzes his theory of sexuality and its presence throughout childhood. Freud's book describes three main topics in reference to sexuality: sexual perversions, childhood sexuality, and puberty. His first essay in this series is called "The Sexual Aberrations." This essay focuses on the distinction between a sexual object and a sexual aim. A sexual object is an object that one desires while the sexual aim is the acts that one desires to perform with the object. Freud's second essay was explained," Infantile Sexuality." During this essay, he insists that children have sexual urges. The psychosexual stages are the steps a child must take in order to continue having sexual urges once adulthood is reached. The third essay Freud wrote described "The Transformation of Puberty." In this essay, he examines how children express their sexuality throughout puberty and how sexual identity is formed during this time frame. Freud ultimately attempted to link unconscious sexual desires to conscious actions in each of his essays.

The Interpretation of Dreams was one of Sigmund Freud's best known published works. It set the stage for his psychoanalytic work and Freud's approach to the unconscious with regard to the interpretation of dreams. During therapy sessions with patients, Freud would ask his patients to discuss what was on their minds. Frequently, the responses were directly related to a dream. [13] As a result, Freud began to analyze dreams believing that it gave him access to one's deepest thoughts. In addition, he was able to find links between one's current hysterical behaviors and past traumatic experiences. From these experiences, he began to write a book that was designed to help others to understand dream interpretation. In the book, he discussed his theory of the unconscious. Freud believed that dreams were messages from the unconscious masked as wishes controlled by internal stimuli. The unconscious mind plays the most imperative role in dream interpretation. In order to remain in a state of sleep, the unconscious mind has to detain negative thoughts and represent them in any edited form. Therefore, when one dreams the unconscious makes an effort to deal with conflict. It would enable one to begin to act on them. There are four steps required to convert dreams from latent or unconscious thoughts to the manifest content. They are condensation, displacement, symbolism, and secondary revision. Ideas first go through a process of condensation that takes thoughts and turns them into a single image. Then, the true emotional meaning of the dream loses its significance in an element of displacement. This is followed by symbolism representing our latent thoughts in visual form. A special focus on symbolism was emphasized in the interpretation of dreams. [14] Our dreams are highly symbolic with an underlying principle meaning. Many of the symbolic stages focus on sexual connotations. For example, a tree branch could represent a penis. Freud believed all human behavior originated from our sexual drives and desires. In the last stage of converting dreams to manifest content dreams are made sensible. The final product of manifest content is what we remember when we come out of our sleep.

Contemporary Views

While Freud's theories have been widely criticized, it is important to remember that his work made important contributions to psychology. His work sparked a major change in how we view mental illness by suggesting that not all psychological problems have physiological causes.

Freud's belief that mental problems could be resolved by actually talking about them helped revolutionize psychotherapy.

Many contemporary psychologists do not give credence to Freud's ideas, but the theories remain important. To understand where psychology is today, it is essential to take a look back at where we've been and how we got here. Freud's work provides an insight into an important movement in psychology that helped transform how we think about mental health and how we approach psychological disorders.

By studying these theories and those that came after, you can gain a better understanding of psychology's fascinating history. Many terms such as defense mechanism, Freudian slip, and anal retentive have become a part of our everyday language. By learning about his work and theories, you can understand how these ideas and concepts became woven into the fabric of popular culture.

Watch the video: PSYCHOTHERAPY - Sigmund Freud (January 2022).