Sigmund Freud is an Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis who created an entirely new approach to understanding human personality. Freud is considered one of the most influential and controversial minds of the twentieth century. In this content, we take a closer look at Freud’s life and some of his work.
“ There is a huge gap in our thinking between reality and fantasy, and we view reality completely differently. ” (Introduction to Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud)
Who is Sigmund Freud?
On May 6, 1856, Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia (now Pribor, Czech Republic) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father was a Jewish merchant. His family moved to Leipzig when he was a child and then settled in Vienna, where Freud was educated.
Freud began studying medicine at the University of Vienna in 1873. During this period, he received training from psychiatrist Theodor Meynert and professor of internal medicine, Hermann Nothnagel. During this period, anti-Semitism was on the rise in Vienna. Freud, therefore, had difficulties entering social and academic circles.
Freud’s acquaintance with hypnosis:
After graduating, Freud began working at the Vienna General Hospital. He worked with Josef Breuer on the treatment of hysteria, remembering his painful experiences under hypnosis. Breuer, a physician and physiologist, significantly influenced Freud’s career. Breuer used to tell Freud how he used the technique of hypnosis to heal his patient, Bertha Pappenheim (also known by the pseudonym Anna O.), who was then considered hysterical and was the first female patient in the history of psychoanalysis.
As an intermediary, Pappenheim is one of the leading figures of Jewish feminism and the founder of the Jewish Women’s Association. Breuer would hypnotize his patient and talk to him about things he could not consciously remember. With this method, he was able to keep the patient’s symptoms under control. The method he used to be known as “speech therapy”.
Freud’s Paris period and marriage:
Sigmund Freud, in 1882 got engaged to Martha Bernays. It is also known that the couple sent close to a thousand letters to each other during the period they could not meet. Freud and Martha remained engaged until 1886. In 1885, Freud went to Paris and spent a year there as a student of the neurologist Jean Charcot, who is known for using hypnosis in his treatments. After returning to Vienna in 1886, he married Martha Bernays. Afterward, he opened a practice working on nerve and brain disorders.
Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis:
After opening the practice, Freud realized that the hypnotic method was not responding well enough to his patients. Instead, he started working on a new way to let people speak freely. He would lay his patients on a couch to relax and then tell them to talk about whatever came to mind.
Freud would take note of everything the person said and analyze what he said after the session. He called this method of treatment “free association”. He published his findings in this process with Breuer in an article called “Studien über Hysterie” (Studies on Hysteria) in 1895. In 1896, he coined the term psychoanalysis, which still retains its importance today. In Freud’s research, the basis of the human soul is found in the distinction between conscious and unconscious. According to the psychoanalysis teaching, the personality developed through five different periods.
Sigmund Freud and dreams:
“Dreams show us that the repressed is also present in the normal person and continues its spiritual activity. The dream itself is the expression of the repressed; In any case, according to theory, it is the repressed element that reveals the most important features of dream life, at least for the most part, according to concrete experience.” – (Every Man is the Interpretation of His Dream, Sigmund Freud)
Freud developed the theory that people have an unconscious where their sexual and aggressive urges constantly conflict for supremacy with defenses against them. In 1897 he began to analyze himself and his own experiences intensively. In 1900, his major work “The Interpretation of Dreams”, in which he analyzed dreams, unconscious desires and experiences, was published and marked a turning point in the world of psychology.
In his book, Freud called the energy of the mind libido and said that it was necessary to discharge the libido in order to provide pleasure and prevent pain. In his book, Freud explained his thoughts that dreams are just the fulfillment of desires and that the analysis of dreams can be used to treat neurosis. Freud also introduced the idea that a dream consists of two parts. The first was the “open content”, the apparent images and sounds in the dream. The second was the “hidden content”, the hidden meaning of the dream. “The Interpretation of Dreams” took two years to write. Freud made just $209 from the book, and it took eight years to sell.
Freud’s later work and Floydian Slip:
In 1901, he introduced the concept of “Freud’s slip” to the literature and published his work “The Psychopathology of Everyday Life”. In this work, Freud theorized that forgetfulness or a slip of the tongue was not accidental. According to Freud, there is no such thing as a slip of the tongue, and it is a slip of the mind. These “slips reveal things that are hidden in our subconscious”.
In 1902 Freud graduated as Professor of Neuropathology at the University of Vienna and held that position until 1938. While his medical education did not agree with Freud’s theories, a group of students and followers began to rally around Freud. In 1910, the International Psychoanalytical Association was founded under the chairmanship of Freud’s close friend Carl Jung. Jung later left Freud and began to focus on his theories.
Sigmund Freud and sexuality:
“Most people have an offensive element in their sexuality; this is the tendency to want to dominate the sexual object.” (On Gender, Sigmund Freud)
In 1905, one of Freud’s most controversial theories about the sexual drive, his work “Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie” (Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality), was published. He theorized that the sex drive, an idea he touched on in his earlier work, is a major factor influencing a person’s psychology, even in infants.
The theory of the Oedipus Complex also developed in this process. In Greek mythology, the theory takes its name from Odiepus, who married his mother after his father died. This theory postulates the idea that children have a sexual attraction to their opposite-sex parent, which can cause jealousy. According to Freud, the first love of every child is the parent of the opposite sex.
Here, the “Electra Complex” concept is also used if a girl wants to take her mother’s place. In Freud’s psychosexual development theory, in the period called “phallic”, that is, between the ages of 3-6, sexual impulses and desires emerge in the child, and the child is introduced to masturbation for the first time in this period.
Another of Freud’s controversial sexual theories was discussed in his 1933 lecture entitled “Femaleness”. This theory, which he calls “penis jealousy,” proposes the idea that women were jealous of penises as children and that this jealousy manifests as a girl’s love for her father and her desire to give birth to a boy.
Freud’s last years:
After the First World War, Freud began to spend less time on clinical observation and his theories were; focused on its application to history, art, literature, and anthropology. In 1923, he published “The Ego and the Id”, which proposed a new structural model of the mind divided into the id, ego, and superego. Within Freud’s conceptual framework, the “ego” is the part of the personality that interacts with the world in which one lives; The “superego” is the part of the personality that is ethical and creates moral standards for the ego.
During Freud’s lifetime, much of his theories were discussed in psychology and psychiatry circles, and discussions of his ideas continue today. In 1933, the Nazis publicly burned some of Freud’s books. In 1938, shortly after the Nazi annexation of Austria, Freud left Vienna for London with his wife and daughter, Anna. Freud was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw in 1923 and underwent more than 30 surgeries. He died of cancer on September 23, 1939.