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Sigmund Freud (1856—1939)

What are the most interesting ideas of Sigmund Freud?

❶Brill founded the New York Psychoanalytic Society the same year. Cambridge University Press,

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Freud discussed this model in the essay Beyond the Pleasure Principle , and fully elaborated upon it in The Ego and the Id , in which he developed it as an alternative to his previous topographic schema i. The id is the completely unconscious, impulsive, childlike portion of the psyche that operates on the "pleasure principle" and is the source of basic impulses and drives; it seeks immediate pleasure and gratification. Freud acknowledged that his use of the term Id das Es , "the It" derives from the writings of Georg Groddeck.

The rational ego attempts to exact a balance between the impractical hedonism of the id and the equally impractical moralism of the super-ego; it is the part of the psyche that is usually reflected most directly in a person's actions.

When overburdened or threatened by its tasks, it may employ defence mechanisms including denial , repression, undoing, rationalization, and displacement. This concept is usually represented by the "Iceberg Model".

Freud compared the relationship between the ego and the id to that between a charioteer and his horses: Freud believed that the human psyche is subject to two conflicting drives: The life drive was also termed "Eros" and the death drive "Thanatos", although Freud did not use the latter term; "Thanatos" was introduced in this context by Paul Federn.

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle , Freud inferred the existence of a death drive. Its premise was a regulatory principle that has been described as "the principle of psychic inertia", "the Nirvana principle", and "the conservatism of instinct".

Its background was Freud's earlier Project for a Scientific Psychology , where he had defined the principle governing the mental apparatus as its tendency to divest itself of quantity or to reduce tension to zero. Freud had been obliged to abandon that definition, since it proved adequate only to the most rudimentary kinds of mental functioning, and replaced the idea that the apparatus tends toward a level of zero tension with the idea that it tends toward a minimum level of tension.

Freud in effect readopted the original definition in Beyond the Pleasure Principle , this time applying it to a different principle. He asserted that on certain occasions the mind acts as though it could eliminate tension entirely, or in effect to reduce itself to a state of extinction; his key evidence for this was the existence of the compulsion to repeat. Examples of such repetition included the dream life of traumatic neurotics and children's play. In the phenomenon of repetition, Freud saw a psychic trend to work over earlier impressions, to master them and derive pleasure from them, a trend was prior to the pleasure principle but not opposed to it.

In addition to that trend, there was also a principle at work that was opposed to, and thus "beyond" the pleasure principle. If repetition is a necessary element in the binding of energy or adaptation, when carried to inordinate lengths it becomes a means of abandoning adaptations and reinstating earlier or less evolved psychic positions.

By combining this idea with the hypothesis that all repetition is a form of discharge, Freud reached the conclusion that the compulsion to repeat is an effort to restore a state that is both historically primitive and marked by the total draining of energy: In his essay "Mourning and Melancholia", Freud drew a distinction between mourning, painful but an inevitable part of life, and "melancholia", his term for pathological refusal of a mourner to " decathect " from the lost one.

Freud claimed that, in normal mourning, the ego was responsible for narcissistically detaching the libido from the lost one as a means of self-preservation, but that in "melancholia", prior ambivalence towards the lost one prevents this from occurring. Suicide, Freud hypothesized, could result in extreme cases, when unconscious feelings of conflict became directed against the mourner's own ego.

Initiating what became the first debate within psychoanalysis on femininity, Karen Horney of the Berlin Institute set out to challenge Freud's account of the development of feminine sexuality.

Rejecting Freud's theories of the feminine castration complex and penis envy , Horney argued for a primary femininity and penis envy as a defensive formation rather than arising from the fact, or "injury", of biological asymmetry as Freud held. Horney had the influential support of Melanie Klein and Ernest Jones who coined the term " phallocentrism " in his critique of Freud's position.

In defending Freud against this critique, feminist scholar Jacqueline Rose has argued that it presupposes a more normative account of female sexual development than that given by Freud.

She notes that Freud moved from a description of the little girl stuck with her 'inferiority' or 'injury' in the face of the anatomy of the little boy to an account in his later work which explicitly describes the process of becoming 'feminine' as an 'injury' or 'catastrophe' for the complexity of her earlier psychic and sexual life.

According to Freud, "Elimination of clitoral sexuality is a necessary precondition for the development of femininity, since it is immature and masculine in its nature. In , he stated that clitoral orgasms are purely an adolescent phenomenon and that, upon reaching puberty, the proper response of mature women is a change-over to vaginal orgasms, meaning orgasms without any clitoral stimulation.

This theory has been criticized on the grounds that Freud provided no evidence for this basic assumption, and because it made many women feel inadequate when they could not achieve orgasm via vaginal intercourse alone. Freud regarded the monotheistic God as an illusion based upon the infantile emotional need for a powerful, supernatural pater familias.

He maintained that religion — once necessary to restrain man's violent nature in the early stages of civilization — in modern times, can be set aside in favor of reason and science. Freud argues the belief of a supernatural protector serves as a buffer from man's "fear of nature" just as the belief in an afterlife serves as a buffer from man's fear of death. The core idea of the work is that all of religious belief can be explained through its function to society, not for its relation to the truth.

This is why, according to Freud, religious beliefs are "illusions". In Civilization and Its Discontents , he quotes his friend Romain Rolland , who described religion as an "oceanic sensation", but says he never experienced this feeling. Moreover, he perceived religion, with its suppression of violence, as mediator of the societal and personal, the public and the private, conflicts between Eros and Thanatos , the forces of life and death.

In a footnote of his work, Analysis of a Phobia in a Five year old Boy , Freud theorized that the universal fear of castration was provoked in the uncircumcised when they perceived circumcision and that this was "the deepest unconscious root of anti-Semitism ".

Though not the first methodology in the practice of individual verbal psychotherapy, [] Freud's psychoanalytic system came to dominate the field from early in the twentieth century, forming the basis for many later variants. While these systems have adopted different theories and techniques, all have followed Freud by attempting to achieve psychic and behavioral change through having patients talk about their difficulties.

Psychoanalysis also remains influential within many contemporary schools of psychotherapy and has led to innovative therapeutic work in schools and with families and groups. The neo-Freudians , a group including Alfred Adler , Otto Rank , Karen Horney , Harry Stack Sullivan and Erich Fromm , rejected Freud's theory of instinctual drive, emphasized interpersonal relations and self-assertiveness, and made modifications to therapeutic practice that reflected these theoretical shifts.

Adler originated the approach, although his influence was indirect due to his inability to systematically formulate his ideas. Neo-Freudian analysis places more emphasis on the patient's relationship with the analyst and less on exploration of the unconscious. Carl Jung believed that the collective unconscious , which reflects the cosmic order and the history of the human species, is the most important part of the mind.

It contains archetypes , which are manifested in symbols that appear in dreams, disturbed states of mind, and various products of culture. Jungians are less interested in infantile development and psychological conflict between wishes and the forces that frustrate them than in integration between different parts of the person.

The object of Jungian therapy was to mend such splits. Jung focused in particular on problems of middle and later life. His objective was to allow people to experience the split-off aspects of themselves, such as the anima a man's suppressed female self , the animus a woman's suppressed male self , or the shadow an inferior self-image , and thereby attain wisdom.

Jacques Lacan approached psychoanalysis through linguistics and literature. Lacan believed that Freud's essential work had been done prior to and concerned the interpretation of dreams, neurotic symptoms, and slips, which had been based on a revolutionary way of understanding language and its relation to experience and subjectivity, and that ego psychology and object relations theory were based upon misreadings of Freud's work.

For Lacan, the determinative dimension of human experience is neither the self as in ego psychology nor relations with others as in object relations theory , but language. Lacan saw desire as more important than need and considered it necessarily ungratifiable. Wilhelm Reich developed ideas that Freud had developed at the beginning of his psychoanalytic investigation but then superseded but never finally discarded.

These were the concept of the Actualneurosis and a theory of anxiety based upon the idea of dammed-up libido. In Freud's original view, what really happened to a person the "actual" determined the resulting neurotic disposition. Freud applied that idea both to infants and to adults.

In the former case, seductions were sought as the causes of later neuroses and in the latter incomplete sexual release.

Unlike Freud, Reich retained the idea that actual experience, especially sexual experience, was of key significance.

By the s, Reich had "taken Freud's original ideas about sexual release to the point of specifying the orgasm as the criteria of healthy function. The key idea of gestalt therapy is that Freud overlooked the structure of awareness, "an active process that moves toward the construction of organized meaningful wholes Gestalt therapy usually takes place in groups, and in concentrated "workshops" rather than being spread out over a long period of time; it has been extended into new forms of communal living.

Arthur Janov 's primal therapy , which has been an influential post-Freudian psychotherapy, resembles psychoanalytic therapy in its emphasis on early childhood experience, but has also differences with it.

While Janov's theory is akin to Freud's early idea of Actualneurosis, he does not have a dynamic psychology but a nature psychology like that of Reich or Perls, in which need is primary while wish is derivative and dispensable when need is met. Despite its surface similarity to Freud's ideas, Janov's theory lacks a strictly psychological account of the unconscious and belief in infantile sexuality.

While for Freud there was a hierarchy of danger situations, for Janov the key event in the child's life is awareness that the parents do not love it. Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, co-authors of The Courage to Heal , are described as "champions of survivorship" by Frederick Crews , who considers Freud the key influence upon them, although in his view they are indebted not to classic psychoanalysis but to "the pre-psychoanalytic Freud Research projects designed to test Freud's theories empirically have led to a vast literature on the topic.

In , when the psychologist Saul Rosenzweig sent Freud reprints of his attempts to study repression, Freud responded with a dismissive letter stating that "the wealth of reliable observations" on which psychoanalytic assertions were based made them "independent of experimental verification. Greenberg concluded in that some of Freud's concepts were supported by empirical evidence.

Their analysis of research literature supported Freud's concepts of oral and anal personality constellations, his account of the role of Oedipal factors in certain aspects of male personality functioning, his formulations about the relatively greater concern about loss of love in women's as compared to men's personality economy, and his views about the instigating effects of homosexual anxieties on the formation of paranoid delusions.

They also found limited and equivocal support for Freud's theories about the development of homosexuality. They found that several of Freud's other theories, including his portrayal of dreams as primarily containers of secret, unconscious wishes, as well as some of his views about the psychodynamics of women, were either not supported or contradicted by research.

Reviewing the issues again in , they concluded that much experimental data relevant to Freud's work exists, and supports some of his major ideas and theories. Other viewpoints include those of Hans Eysenck , who writes in Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire that Freud set back the study of psychology and psychiatry "by something like fifty years or more", [] and Malcolm Macmillan, who concludes in Freud Evaluated that "Freud's method is not capable of yielding objective data about mental processes".

Cohen regards Freud's Interpretation of Dreams as a revolutionary work of science, the last such work to be published in book form. William Domhoff has disputed claims of Freudian dream theory being validated. The philosopher Karl Popper , who argued that all proper scientific theories must be potentially falsifiable , claimed that Freud's psychoanalytic theories were presented in unfalsifiable form, meaning that no experiment could ever disprove them.

Scruton nevertheless concluded that psychoanalysis is not genuinely scientific, on the grounds that it involves an unacceptable dependence on metaphor. In a study of psychoanalysis in the United States, Nathan Hale reported on the "decline of psychoanalysis in psychiatry" during the years — Research in the emerging field of neuropsychoanalysis , founded by neuroscientist and psychoanalyst Mark Solms , [] has proved controversial with some psychoanalysts criticising the very concept itself.

Psychoanalysis has been interpreted as both radical and conservative. By the s, it had come to be seen as conservative by the European and American intellectual community. Critics outside the psychoanalytic movement, whether on the political left or right, saw Freud as a conservative. Fromm had argued that several aspects of psychoanalytic theory served the interests of political reaction in his The Fear of Freedom , an assessment confirmed by sympathetic writers on the right.

The Mind of the Moralist , Philip Rieff portrayed Freud as a man who urged men to make the best of an inevitably unhappy fate, and admirable for that reason. Brown in Life Against Death Marcuse criticized neo-Freudian revisionism for discarding seemingly pessimistic theories such as the death instinct, arguing that they could be turned in a utopian direction.

Freud's theories also influenced the Frankfurt School and critical theory as a whole. Freud has been compared to Marx by Reich, who saw Freud's importance for psychiatry as parallel to that of Marx for economics, [] and by Paul Robinson, who sees Freud as a revolutionary whose contributions to twentieth century thought are comparable in importance to Marx's contributions to nineteenth century thought.

Fromm nevertheless credits Freud with permanently changing the way human nature is understood. They believe this began with Freud's development of the theory of the Oedipus complex, which they see as idealist. Jean-Paul Sartre critiques Freud's theory of the unconscious in Being and Nothingness , claiming that consciousness is essentially self-conscious. Sartre also attempts to adapt some of Freud's ideas to his own account of human life, and thereby develop an "existential psychoanalysis" in which causal categories are replaced by teleological categories.

Adorno considers Edmund Husserl , the founder of phenomenology, to be Freud's philosophical opposite, writing that Husserl's polemic against psychologism could have been directed against psychoanalysis. Several scholars see Freud as parallel to Plato , writing that they hold nearly the same theory of dreams and have similar theories of the tripartite structure of the human soul or personality, even if the hierarchy between the parts of the soul is almost reversed.

Whereas Plato saw a hierarchy inherent in the nature of reality, and relied upon it to validate norms, Freud was a naturalist who could not follow such an approach.

Both men's theories drew a parallel between the structure of the human mind and that of society, but while Plato wanted to strengthen the super-ego, which corresponded to the aristocracy, Freud wanted to strengthen the ego, which corresponded to the middle class. Thomas's belief in the existence of an "unconscious consciousness" and his "frequent use of the word and concept 'libido' — sometimes in a more specific sense than Freud, but always in a manner in agreement with the Freudian use.

Auden in his collection Another Time. Literary critic Harold Bloom has been influenced by Freud. The decline in Freud's reputation has been attributed partly to the revival of feminism. Freud is also criticized by Shulamith Firestone and Eva Figes.

In The Dialectic of Sex , Firestone argues that Freud was a "poet" who produced metaphors rather than literal truths; in her view, Freud, like feminists, recognized that sexuality was the crucial problem of modern life, but ignored the social context and failed to question society itself.

Firestone interprets Freud's "metaphors" in terms of the facts of power within the family. Figes tries in Patriarchal Attitudes to place Freud within a "history of ideas". Juliet Mitchell defends Freud against his feminist critics in Psychoanalysis and Feminism , accusing them of misreading him and misunderstanding the implications of psychoanalytic theory for feminism. Mitchell helped introduce English-speaking feminists to Lacan. Gallop compliments Mitchell for her criticism of feminist discussions of Freud, but finds her treatment of Lacanian theory lacking.

Irigaray, who claims that "the cultural unconscious only recognizes the male sex", describes how this affects "accounts of the psychology of women". Psychologist Carol Gilligan writes that "The penchant of developmental theorists to project a masculine image, and one that appears frightening to women, goes back at least to Freud.

Gilligan notes that Nancy Chodorow , in contrast to Freud, attributes sexual difference not to anatomy but to the fact that male and female children have different early social environments. Chodorow, writing against the masculine bias of psychoanalysis, "replaces Freud's negative and derivative description of female psychology with a positive and direct account of her own. Toril Moi has developed a feminist perspective on psychoanalysis proposing that it is a discourse that "attempts to understand the psychic consequences of three universal traumas: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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A close study of Schopenhauer's central work, 'The World as Will and Representation', reveals that a number of Freud's most characteristic doctrines were first articulated by Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer's concept of the will contains the foundations of what in Freud became the concepts of the unconscious and the id.

Schopenhauer's writings on madness anticipate Freud's theory of repression and his first theory of the aetiology of neurosis. Schopenhauer's work contains aspects of what become the theory of free association. And most importantly, Schopenhauer articulates major parts of the Freudian theory of sexuality. These correspondences raise some interesting questions about Freud's denial that he even read Schopenhauer until late in life. Returns of the French Freud: Freud, Lacan, and Beyond.

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It is a little odd that Freud himself never, except in conversation, used for the death instinct the term Thanatos , one which has become so popular since. At first he used the terms "death instinct" and "destructive instinct" indiscriminately, alternating between them, but in his discussion with Einstein about war he made the distinction that the former is directed against the self and the latter, derived from it, is directed outward.

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Archived PDF from the original on 23 June The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality and Tragedy. Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy. This made it possible and plausible, for the first time, to treat man as an object of scientific investigation, and to conceive of the vast and varied range of human behavior, and the motivational causes from which it springs, as being amenable in principle to scientific explanation.

Much of the creative work done in a whole variety of diverse scientific fields over the next century was to be inspired by, and derive sustenance from, this new world-view, which Freud with his enormous esteem for science, accepted implicitly. An even more important influence on Freud however, came from the field of physics.

The second fifty years of the nineteenth century saw monumental advances in contemporary physics, which were largely initiated by the formulation of the principle of the conservation of energy by Helmholz. This principle states, in effect, that the total amount of energy in any given physical system is always constant, that energy quanta can be changed but not annihilated, and that consequently when energy is moved from one part of the system, it must reappear in another part.

The progressive application of this principle led to monumental discoveries in the fields of thermodynamics, electromagnetism and nuclear physics which, with their associated technologies, have so comprehensively transformed the contemporary world.

From there it was but a short conceptual step—but one which Freud was the first to take, and on which his claim to fame is largely grounded—to the view that there is such a thing as " psychic energy ," that the human personality is also an energy-system, and that it is the function of psychology to investigate the modifications, transmissions and conversions of psychic energy within the personality which shape and determine it.

Freud was arguably the first thinker to apply deterministic principles systematically to the sphere of the mental, and to hold that the broad spectrum of human behavior is explicable only in terms of the usually hidden mental processes or states which determine it.

Thus, instead of treating the behavior of the neurotic as being causally inexplicable—which had been the prevailing approach for centuries—Freud insisted, on the contrary, on treating it as behavior for which it is meaningful to seek an explanation by searching for causes in terms of the mental states of the individual concerned. This suggests the view that freedom of the will is, if not completely an illusion, certainly more tightly circumscribed than is commonly believed, for it follows from this that whenever we make a choice we are governed by hidden mental processes of which we are unaware and over which we have no control.

The postulation of such unconscious mental states entails, of course, that the mind is not, and cannot be, either identified with consciousness, or an object of consciousness.

To employ a much-used analogy, it is rather structurally akin to an iceberg, the bulk of it lying below the surface, exerting a dynamic and determining influence upon the part which is amenable to direct inspection—the conscious mind. There are, he held, an indefinitely large number of such instincts, but these can be reduced to a small number of basic ones, which he grouped into two broad generic categories, Eros the life instinct , which covers all the self-preserving and erotic instincts, and Thanatos the death instinct , which covers all the instincts towards aggression, self-destruction, and cruelty.

Thus it is a mistake to interpret Freud as asserting that all human actions spring from motivations which are sexual in their origin, since those which derive from Thanatos are not sexually motivated—indeed, Thanatos is the irrational urge to destroy the source of all sexual energy in the annihilation of the self.

Having said that, it is undeniably true that Freud gave sexual drives an importance and centrality in human life, human actions, and human behavior which was new and to many, shocking , arguing as he does that sexual drives exist and can be discerned in children from birth the theory of infantile sexuality , and that sexual energy libido is the single most important motivating force in adult life.

However, a crucial qualification has to be added here—Freud effectively redefined the term "sexuality" to make it cover any form of pleasure which is or can be derived from the body. Thus his theory of the instincts or drives is essentially that the human being is energized or driven from birth by the desire to acquire and enhance bodily pleasure.

Initially, infants gain such release, and derive such pleasure, from the act of sucking. Freud accordingly terms this the "oral" stage of development.

Then the young child develops an interest in its sexual organs as a site of pleasure the "phallic" stage , and develops a deep sexual attraction for the parent of the opposite sex, and a hatred of the parent of the same sex the "Oedipus complex". This, however, gives rise to socially derived feelings of guilt in the child, who recognizes that it can never supplant the stronger parent.

A male child also perceives himself to be at risk. He fears that if he persists in pursuing the sexual attraction for his mother, he may be harmed by the father; specifically, he comes to fear that he may be castrated. This is termed " castration anxiety. This happens at the age of five, whereupon the child enters a "latency" period, in which sexual motivations become much less pronounced. This lasts until puberty when mature genital development begins, and the pleasure drive refocuses around the genital area.

This, Freud believed, is the sequence or progression implicit in normal human development, and it is to be observed that at the infant level the instinctual attempts to satisfy the pleasure drive are frequently checked by parental control and social coercion.

The developmental process, then, is for the child essentially a movement through a series of conflicts , the successful resolution of which is crucial to adult mental health. Many mental illnesses, particularly hysteria, Freud held, can be traced back to unresolved conflicts experienced at this stage, or to events which otherwise disrupt the normal pattern of infantile development.

This model has many points of similarity with the account of the mind offered by Plato over 2, years earlier. The id is that part of the mind in which are situated the instinctual sexual drives which require satisfaction; the super-ego is that part which contains the "conscience," namely, socially-acquired control mechanisms which have been internalized, and which are usually imparted in the first instance by the parents; while the ego is the conscious self that is created by the dynamic tensions and interactions between the id and the super-ego and has the task of reconciling their conflicting demands with the requirements of external reality.

It is in this sense that the mind is to be understood as a dynamic energy-system. All objects of consciousness reside in the ego ; the contents of the id belong permanently to the unconscious mind; while the super-ego is an unconscious screening-mechanism which seeks to limit the blind pleasure-seeking drives of the id by the imposition of restrictive rules.

There is some debate as to how literally Freud intended this model to be taken he appears to have taken it extremely literally himself , but it is important to note that what is being offered here is indeed a theoretical model rather than a description of an observable object, which functions as a frame of reference to explain the link between early childhood experience and the mature adult normal or dysfunctional personality.

Freud also followed Plato in his account of the nature of mental health or psychological well-being, which he saw as the establishment of a harmonious relationship between the three elements which constitute the mind. Failure to resolve this can lead to later neurosis. Repression is thus one of the central defense mechanisms by which the ego seeks to avoid internal conflict and pain, and to reconcile reality with the demands of both id and super-ego.

As such it is completely normal and an integral part of the developmental process through which every child must pass on the way to adulthood. However, the repressed instinctual drive, as an energy-form, is not and cannot be destroyed when it is repressed—it continues to exist intact in the unconscious, from where it exerts a determining force upon the conscious mind, and can give rise to the dysfunctional behavior characteristic of neuroses.

This is one reason why dreams and slips of the tongue possess such a strong symbolic significance for Freud, and why their analysis became such a key part of his treatment—they represent instances in which the vigilance of the super-ego is relaxed, and when the repressed drives are accordingly able to present themselves to the conscious mind in a transmuted form.

Such behavioral symptoms are highly irrational and may even be perceived as such by the neurotic , but are completely beyond the control of the subject because they are driven by the now unconscious repressed impulse. Freud positioned the key repressions for both, the normal individual and the neurotic, in the first five years of childhood, and of course, held them to be essentially sexual in nature; since, as we have seen, repressions which disrupt the process of infantile sexual development in particular, according to him, lead to a strong tendency to later neurosis in adult life.

The task of psychoanalysis as a therapy is to find the repressions which cause the neurotic symptoms by delving into the unconscious mind of the subject, and by bringing them to the forefront of consciousness, to allow the ego to confront them directly and thus to discharge them. This has become so influential today that when people speak of psychoanalysis they frequently refer exclusively to the clinical treatment; however, the term properly designates both the clinical treatment and the theory which underlies it.

The aim of the method may be stated simply in general terms—to re-establish a harmonious relationship between the three elements which constitute the mind by excavating and resolving unconscious repressed conflicts.

Turning away from his early attempts to explore the unconscious through hypnosis, Freud further developed this "talking cure," acting on the assumption that the repressed conflicts were buried in the deepest recesses of the unconscious mind.

Accordingly, he got his patients to relax in a position in which they were deprived of strong sensory stimulation, and even keen awareness of the presence of the analyst hence the famous use of the couch, with the analyst virtually silent and out of sight , and then encouraged them to speak freely and uninhibitedly, preferably without forethought, in the belief that he could thereby discern the unconscious forces lying behind what was said.

This is the method of free-association, the rationale for which is similar to that involved in the analysis of dreams—in both cases the super-ego is to some degree disarmed, its efficiency as a screening mechanism is moderated, and material is allowed to filter through to the conscious ego which would otherwise be completely repressed. The process is necessarily a difficult and protracted one, and it is therefore one of the primary tasks of the analyst to help the patient recognize, and overcome, his own natural resistances, which may exhibit themselves as hostility towards the analyst.

Taking it that the super-ego functioned less effectively in sleep, as in free association, Freud made a distinction between the manifest content of a dream what the dream appeared to be about on the surface and its latent content the unconscious, repressed desires or wishes which are its real object.

To effect a cure, the analyst must facilitate the patient himself to become conscious of unresolved conflicts buried in the deep recesses of the unconscious mind, and to confront and engage with them directly. In this sense, then, the object of psychoanalytic treatment may be said to be a form of self-understanding—once this is acquired it is largely up to the patient, in consultation with the analyst, to determine how he shall handle this newly-acquired understanding of the unconscious forces which motivate him.

One possibility, mentioned above, is the channeling of sexual energy into the achievement of social, artistic or scientific goals—this is sublimation, which Freud saw as the motivating force behind most great cultural achievements.

Another possibility would be the conscious, rational control of formerly repressed drives—this is suppression. Yet another would be the decision that it is the super-ego and the social constraints which inform it that are at fault, in which case the patient may decide in the end to satisfy the instinctual drives.

But in all cases the cure is effected essentially by a kind of catharsis or purgation—a release of the pent-up psychic energy, the constriction of which was the basic cause of the neurotic illness. It should be evident from the foregoing why psychoanalysis in general, and Freud in particular, have exerted such a strong influence upon the popular imagination in the Western World, and why both the theory and practice of psychoanalysis should remain the object of a great deal of controversy.

The Freudian Fallacy to the view that he made an important, but grim, empirical discovery, which he knowingly suppressed in favour of the theory of the unconscious, knowing that the latter would be more socially acceptable see Masson, J.

The Assault on Truth. The supporters and followers of Freud and Jung and Adler are noted for the zeal and enthusiasm with which they espouse the doctrines of the master, to the point where many of the detractors of the movement see it as a kind of secular religion, requiring as it does an initiation process in which the aspiring psychoanalyst must himself first be analyzed.

In this way, it is often alleged, the unquestioning acceptance of a set of ideological principles becomes a necessary precondition for acceptance into the movement—as with most religious groupings. In reply, the exponents and supporters of psychoanalysis frequently analyze the motivations of their critics in terms of the very theory which those critics reject. And so the debate goes on. Here we will confine ourselves to: This is a crucially important issue since Freud saw himself first and foremost as a pioneering scientist, and repeatedly asserted that the significance of psychoanalysis is that it is a new science , incorporating a new scientific method of dealing with the mind and with mental illness.

There can, moreover, be no doubt but that this has been the chief attraction of the theory for most of its advocates since then—on the face of it, it has the appearance of being not just a scientific theory but an enormously strong one, with the capacity to accommodate, and explain, every possible form of human behavior.

However, it is precisely this latter which, for many commentators, undermines its claim to scientific status.

The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Thus the principle of the conservation of energy physical, not psychic , which influenced Freud so greatly, is a scientific one because it is falsifiable—the discovery of a physical system in which the total amount of physical energy was not constant would conclusively show it to be false. If the question is asked: Hence it is concluded that the theory is not scientific, and while this does not, as some critics claim, rob it of all value, it certainly diminishes its intellectual status as projected by its strongest advocates, including Freud himself.

A related but perhaps more serious point is that the coherence of the theory is, at the very least, questionable. What is attractive about the theory, even to the layman, is that it seems to offer us long sought-after and much needed causal explanations for conditions which have been a source of a great deal of human misery. However, even this is questionable, and is a matter of much dispute. In general, when it is said that an event X causes another event Y to happen, both X and Y are, and must be, independently identifiable.

At a less theoretical, but no less critical level, it has been alleged that Freud did make a genuine discovery which he was initially prepared to reveal to the world. However, the response he encountered was so ferociously hostile that he masked his findings and offered his theory of the unconscious in its place see Masson, J.

What he discovered, it has been suggested, was the extreme prevalence of child sexual abuse, particularly of young girls the vast majority of hysterics are women , even in respectable nineteenth century Vienna. He did in fact offer an early "seduction theory" of neuroses, which met with fierce animosity, and which he quickly withdrew and replaced with the theory of the unconscious.

Questions concerning the traumas suffered by his patients seemed to reveal [to Freud] that Viennese girls were extraordinarily often seduced in very early childhood by older male relatives. Doubt about the actual occurrence of these seductions was soon replaced by certainty that it was descriptions about childhood fantasy that were being offered.

By what standard is this being judged? The answer can only be: By the standard of what we generally believe—or would like to believe—to be the case. Freud, according to them, had stumbled upon and knowingly suppressed the fact that the level of child sexual abuse in society is much higher than is generally believed or acknowledged. If this contention is true—and it must at least be contemplated seriously—then this is undoubtedly the most serious criticism that Freud and his followers have to face.

Further, this particular point has taken on an added and even more controversial significance in recent years, with the willingness of some contemporary Freudians to combine the theory of repression with an acceptance of the wide-spread social prevalence of child sexual abuse.

On this basis, parents have been accused and repudiated, and whole families have been divided or destroyed. In this way, the concept of repression, which Freud himself termed "the foundation stone upon which the structure of psychoanalysis rests," has come in for more widespread critical scrutiny than ever before. Here, the fact that, unlike some of his contemporary followers, Freud did not himself ever countenance the extension of the concept of repression to cover actual child sexual abuse, and the fact that we are not necessarily forced to choose between the views that all "recovered memories" are either veridical or falsidical are, perhaps understandably, frequently lost sight of in the extreme heat generated by this debate.

The theory upon which the use of leeches to bleed patients in eighteenth century medicine was based was quite spurious, but patients did sometimes actually benefit from the treatment!

And of course even a true theory might be badly applied, leading to negative consequences. One of the problems here is that it is difficult to specify what counts as a cure for a neurotic illness as distinct, say, from a mere alleviation of the symptoms. In general, however, the efficiency of a given method of treatment is usually clinically measured by means of a control group—the proportion of patients suffering from a given disorder who are cured by treatment X is measured by comparison with those cured by other treatments, or by no treatment at all.

Such clinical tests as have been conducted indicate that the proportion of patients who have benefited from psychoanalytic treatment does not diverge significantly from the proportion who recover spontaneously or as a result of other forms of intervention in the control groups used.

So, the question of the therapeutic effectiveness of psychoanalysis remains an open and controversial one.

Sigmund Freud Essay

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Sigmund Freud ( to ) was the founding father of psychoanalysis, a method for treating mental illness and also a theory which explains human behavior.

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Sigmund Freud's work and theories helped shape our views of childhood, personality, memory, sexuality and therapy. Other major thinkers have contributed work that grew out of Freud's legacy, while others developed new theories out of opposition to his ideas.

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Sigmund Freud (—) Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was a physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and influential thinker of the early twentieth century. Sigmund Freud research paper writing prompts. Writing prompts can be extremely useful when you have to write a research paper or just your weekly homework.

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Freud research papers discuss Freud and his psychological theories. Paper Masters will custom write research on Sigmund Freud and any aspect of his life or work, including his thoughts on the nature of . Sigmund Freud () was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a movement that popularized the theory that unconscious motives control much behavior. He became interested in hypnotism and how it could be used to help the mentally ill.