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An introduction to the life of sigmund freud the father of psychology

Fancher All rights reserved. By then Freud had already developed most of the truly foundational ideas of psychoanalysis in a series of major publications, which he attempted briefly to abstract in his five lectures.

Still, some important details and elaborations of the basic theory remained to be worked out, and Freud devoted much of the rest of his career to this project. This commentary will begin by describing Freud's background and then specifying the major works he had completed prior to the lectures in 1909; it will conclude with a brief summary of the major developments in his work and thought during the remainder of his career. In 1860 his father, a Jewish wool merchant of modest means, moved the family to Vienna, where Freud remained until the final year of his long life.

The family constellation was unusual in that Freud's father was much older than his mother, and in a previous marriage had had two sons who were roughly the same age as Freud's mother. Freud was the first of his mother's eight children, and so grew up as the oldest - and most favored - child within his immediate family household. Some have speculated that this unusual situation may have particularly sensitized Freud to family dynamics such as those he later emphasized in formulating the Oedipus Complex.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Be that as it may, young Freud became a brilliant and ambitious student, standing at or near the top of his class at school with particular interests in history and literature. A chance hearing of a lecture on nature during his final year of secondary school turned his attention toward science, and led to his almost impulsive enrollment in the University of Vienna's medical school in 1873.

According to this view, all physiological processes, no matter how complex, had to be accounted for "mechanistically" in terms of ordinary physical and chemical laws.

  1. This was an improvement, but still far from perfect. More than a century has passed since Freud began to use his personal term "psychoanalysis", to describe what was at once his mode of therapy and his developing theory of the mind.
  2. In addition, it is important to know how people should view important and difficult events in everyday life. Otherwise, psychological problems may occur including neurosis due to repression, regression, sublimation and fixation.
  3. They do not disappear, however, but remain in the unconscious waiting for opportunities to be expressed indirectly - not only in dreams but also, in some cases, as hysterical symptoms. Under this new conception, an infant is born in a state of "polymorphous perversity," capable of "sexual" gratification via various autoerotic and non-reproductive activities such as those highlighted by Freud in his fourth lecture.
  4. Thus they became pathogenic ideas.
  5. 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. Princeton University Press, 2010.

In the early 1880s, however, he reluctantly concluded that an academic research career would not be possible for an impecunious Jew in anti-Semitic Vienna. He would have to practice medicine after all, and so he went to the General Hospital for clinical training. There, Freud's prior neurophysiological interests naturally led him to the psychiatry clinic directed by the famous brain anatomist Theodore Meynert 1833-1893.

Under Meynert's direction, Freud became unusually adept at diagnosing organic brain disorders, particularly the effects of localized injuries. He now developed ambitions of specializing in this field, and as Meynert's best student he won a fellowship enabling him to travel to Paris and study with the great French neurologist Jean Charcot 1825-1893 for six months beginning in November of 1885.

Charcot had made his reputation by studying "orthodox" neurological conditions such as polio and multiple sclerosis, but when Freud encountered him he happened to be deep into the study of hysteria.

As Freud relates in the first of his Clark lectures, hysterical symptoms often resemble in some ways the effects of localized brain injuries, but occur in the absence of such injuries. Most physicians of the time dismissed hysteria as malingering and did not take it seriously, but Charcot believed it was a real condition caused by generalized as opposed to localized weakness of the nervous system, and closely related to the susceptibility to hypnosis.

As Freud suggests at the beginning of his second lecture, Charcot's specific theory proved to be incorrect. But with his great prestige he helped elevate the previously "disreputable" subjects of hysteria and hypnosis to scientific respectability, and introduced Freud to their serious and systematic study.

This proved crucial to Freud after he returned to Vienna and tried to establish himself in private practice.

Studies on Hysteria Given a choice, Freud would have specialized exclusively in "ordinary" neurological diseases and brain injuries, and in fact he wrote some very well received works on aphasia and infantile cerebral palsy.

Sigmund Freud (1856—1939)

He found he could not attract enough patients of this type to make a living, however, and somewhat reluctantly, began accepting patients with hysterical symtoms. At first, his therapeutic armamentarium for such cases was sparse, consisting mainly of "hydrotherapy" the prescription of warm or cold baths and "electrotherapy" mild electrical stimulations of the afflicted body parts.

These worked very imperfectly, and much more because of the power of suggestion than any inherent physical effects. Then Freud tried direct hypnosis, where patients were simply hypnotized and told that their symptoms would disappear.

A Look on Freud's Theories

This was an improvement, but still far from perfect. Finally Freud remembered a case that had been described to him many years earlier, before his fellowship with Charcot, by his older friend Josef Breuer 1842-1925.

Sigmund Freud - The Father of Psychoanalysis

Breuer was a highly respected Viennese physician who had supported Freud financially as well as morally when he was a struggling medical student. An introduction to the life of sigmund freud the father of psychology did not normally accept hysterical patients, but the Pappenheims were family friends and he agreed to do what he could for Bertha.

Over a period of several months, he and Bertha together developed the basic, cathartic method of treatment that Freud sketched out in the first of his Clark lectures. Under hypnosis, Bertha would recall previously forgotten but emotionally charged experiences related to the onset of her symptoms.

The treatment seemed effective, and Pappenheim went on to have a distinguished career as a social worker and activist for feminist causes.

Towards the end of the treatment, however, she had begun to express a strong and irrational emotional attachment to Breuer - a manifestation of what Freud would later call "transference. The cathartic method was forgotten and not used again until Freud, launched upon his own practice several years later, remembered being told about it and decided to try it out for himself. When he did so, he found it better than anything else available, and treated a number of patients with some success.

In 1893 he persuaded the reluctant Breuer to collaborate in writing a short, "preliminary communication" describing the technique and containing the famous summarizing statement that Freud repeated in the first Clark lecture: This contained five detailed case studies including that of Bertha Pappenheim disguised under the name, "Anna O.

At the time Studies on Hysteria was published, Freud still confronted two important problems - one practical and the other theoretical. The practical issue arose because not all hysterical patients could be hypnotized, so a more widely applicable technique was necessary for accessing their unconscious pathogenic ideas. The theoretical question was why those ideas had become unconscious in the first place.

Freud's second lecture summarized his interlinked efforts to solve those two problems - efforts that he made without the collaboration of Breuer and that are seen by many scholars as marking the real beginning of Freudian "psychoanalysis.

Although simple in principle, this procedure was difficult in practice because the patients inevitably experienced what Freud called resistance - a blocking, editing or censoring of their accounts that could be overcome only with great persistence and encouragement from the therapist. Unconsciously, the patients seemed to have made a decision that it was better to suffer the pain of the symptom than that of thinking the thought.

The symptom therefore represented a defense against the conscious acknowledgement of the thought. At the same time he was advancing his understanding of hysteria in these ways, Freud was also working energetically on an even more ambitious theoretical project.

He hoped to integrate his new insights about hysteria with his earlier knowledge of neurology, in constructing a comprehensive theoretical model of the mind. The main result was 100 pages of draft manuscript composed in late 1895, that Freud himself never published but that he sent to his best friend and confidant Wilhelm Fliess 1858-1928a physician in Berlin.

  • His work in psychoanalysis was ground breaking and he started to gain notoriety worldwide;
  • Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1998;
  • In 1893 he persuaded the reluctant Breuer to collaborate in writing a short, "preliminary communication" describing the technique and containing the famous summarizing statement that Freud repeated in the first Clark lecture;
  • The answer can only be:

The work, along with a treasure trove of other draft manuscripts and letters sent to Fliess, came to light only after Freud's death. Although the manuscript was untitled and privately referred to by Freud as his "Psychology for Neurologists," his English translators called it the Project for a Scientific Psychology.

Here Freud for the first time seriously considered the subject of dreams. Here was a hypothesis that Freud could put to a psychological test by subjecting the content of dreams to free association.

  • It seems more plausible, as Freud suggested, that the fish represented the patient's mother rather than a penis!
  • A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis.

When he did so dream analysis turned out to be - as he put it in his third lecture - the via regia "royal road" to the unconscious. Dream Interpretation and Self-analysis The first dream Freud analyzed by this new method was one of his own, subsequently known as "The Dream of Irma's Injection.

  • While his theory provides entities, there is an absence of correspondence rules, which means they are impossible to be identified unless referenced to the behavior that is believed to be the cause of the problem;
  • The family constellation was unusual in that Freud's father was much older than his mother, and in a previous marriage had had two sons who were roughly the same age as Freud's mother;
  • Several scientists were inspired by Freud's theories including Jung and Adler, to name a few;
  • The main problem here is that the case studies are based on studying one person in detail, and with reference to Freud, the individuals in question are most often middle-aged women from Vienna i;
  • 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;
  • 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.

Like the content of so many dreams, this experience was disjointed, somewhat bizarre, and made no obvious sense. An introduction to the life of sigmund freud the father of psychology Freud free associated to this directly experienced but nonsensical content of the dream, however, a series of unsuspected ideas emerged that did make sense. These included the recollection that his best friend Fliess not the doctor from the dream had been dangerously negligent in a real operation Freud had asked him to perform on Irma in real life.

Freud also recalled a recent conversation with Fleiss in which they had speculated about the role of trimethylamin in the chemistry of the body's sexual processes. These recollections in turn led to a whole welter of conflict-laden thoughts and wishes regarding both Fliess and Irma - feelings of resentment and anger towards his best friend, and of a certain sexual attraction between himself and his patient, for example.

Many of these thoughts were anxiety arousing and difficult to accept, but Freud felt forced to acknowledge that they were true, that they made sense, and that they therefore constituted the "real" motivation and meaning of his dream. Freud soon became convinced that virtually any dream could be interpreted in much the same way, and moreover could be shown to have some remarkable similarities to hysterical symptoms.

When the remembered dream experience, referred to by Freud as its manifest content, was subjected to free association in the same way that hysterical patients' symptoms were, a previously unconscious latent content was revealed.

This latent content seemed to stand in many of the same relationships to the manifest content that unconscious pathogenic ideas stood to hysterical symptoms. In both instances the conscious products were psychologically "safer" - i. Further, individual symptoms and manifest dream images both seemed to represent several different unconscious ideas at once; e. Freud called this phenomenon overdetermination in the case of symptoms and condensation in the dreams. A fluent recaller of his own dreams, Freud now he became his own best subject in psychoanalytical research.

And after his father died in 1896, he also literally became his own patient.

  1. 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. Modern Psychoanalysis — Helpful page with information on how Freud changed the study of psychoanalysis.
  2. The Complete Works of Sigmund Freud — In this web page you will find information and links to the complete works of Freud. The purpose of dreamwork is to transform the forbidden wish into a non-threatening form, thus reducing anxiety and allowing us to continue sleeping.
  3. 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.
  4. Freud presented this view only tentatively, and it dealt with a relatively technical detail of his theory. 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.
  5. This inspired Freud to use the same technique, although he eventually discovered the fleeting effects of hypnosis on the treatment of mental conditions.

Even though the death had been expected for some time it precipitated a severe personal crisis in which Freud felt as if he had been "torn up by the roots. This was the famous self-analysis, regarded by many of Freud's followers as his greatest and most heroic accomplishment.

Following as best as he could his rule of allowing his associations to go where they would without censorship, Freud discerned within himself a number of consciously very uncomfortable ideas and memories.

In particular, he detected a constellation of attitudes and impulses dating from childhood, when - he was forced to believe - he had wished for the exclusive possession of his mother as a source of sensual, "sexual" gratification, and for he removal or "death" of his father, whom he perceived as the main rival for that gratification.

The words "sexual" and "death" have been enclosed in quotation marks here because they represent those concepts as understood by Freud as a young child, differing from his mature understanding of the terms. But Freud had no doubt that these childhood attitudes were the genuine precursors and originating points for the adult concepts. So here, within himself, was the original evidence for the Oedipus complex which he soon came to view as a nearly inevitable consequence of any child's development, and which he elaborated upon in his fourth lecture at Clark.

This self-knowledge helped Freud to solve a problem that had arisen in his understanding and treatment of hysteria. Previously, he had been increasingly impressed by the regularity with which his patients' associations had led to "memories" of a sexual nature, dating from childhood.

Surprisingly often, these remembered scenes entailed sexual abuse, usually at the hands of a parent. Indeed, Freud in 1896 had published papers proclaiming a seduction theory of hysteria: Presumably the experiences had not been perceived as "sexual" by the immature children at the time of their occurrence, but after the onset of puberty their memories became disturbingly charged with new meaning and "sexualized after the fact," causing them to be repressed from normal consciousness.

Thus they became pathogenic ideas. This theory was not well received, as one eminent Viennese physician called it "a scientific fairy tale. He confessed to Fliess in late 1897 that in too many cases the uncovering of these "memories" failed to produce the expected symptom relief, and that in too many cases contrary evidence suggested they could not be literally true.

Even in Freud's own family a sibling had developed hysterical symptoms, and if his theory were correct it would point to his own father as a child abuser. This just did not ring true. Freud's self-analysis and postulation of the Oedipus complex pointed to a possible resolution. His an introduction to the life of sigmund freud the father of psychology of traces of childhood sexuality in himself suggested that these might be universal, and that the traditional definition of "sexuality" should be revised.

Instead of being a highly specific, genitally and heterosexually oriented instinct to copulate and reproduce, "sexuality" should be thought of as a highly general drive for sensual gratification of many different kinds, present in all individuals from infancy onwards. Under this new conception, an infant is born in a state of "polymorphous perversity," capable of "sexual" gratification via various autoerotic and non-reproductive activities such as those highlighted by Freud in his fourth lecture.

By the time the child reaches the age of five or six, many of these pleasures arouse condemnation from parents and society, and thus cause such severe anxiety that the urges for them must be repressed into unconsciousness.

They do not disappear, however, but remain in the unconscious waiting for opportunities to be expressed indirectly - not only in dreams but also, in some cases, as hysterical symptoms.

Introduction to Sigmund Freud - the Father of Psychoanalysis

Hysterical pathogenic ideas, like the disturbing latent content of many dreams, could be interpreted as disguised representations of childhood wishes rather than actual experiences.

With his increasing sense of the pervasiveness of unconscious motivation, and with free association available as a technique for revealing it, Freud turned his attention to diverse phenomena such as jokes and mistakes or "slips". As he argues in the third lecture, these psychic creations apparently are not random, but like symptoms or dreams they express by allusion wishful ideas that are too dangerous or embarrassing to be directly stated.

While treating his patients, Freud gradually came to place as much emphasis on the analysis of their dreams as on their symptoms. Dreams often provided more detailed and useful insight than symptoms did into the patients' underlying personality dynamics. Here was the phenomenon of transference, which Freud discussed in his fifth lecture where the term was translated as "transfer" as one of the most important aspects of the relationship between patient and psychoanalyst.

Freud's Major Works In essence, Freud's five lectures abstracted the contents of six important longer works he had published prior to 1909.