Sigmund Freud, the founder of Psychoanalysis was an Austrian physician and neurologist. He
revolutionized the ideas of how the human mind works and
established a theory that the unconscious motives controls many
of the human behaviour. He applied his ideas in the treatment of
mental disorders. This helped millions of people to recover from
various mental disorders. Modified forms of his findings are
applied today for treatments. He is also regarded as one of the
greatest creative minds of all time.
Birth and Early Life.
Freud was born in a middle class Jewish
family on May 6,1856 in Freiberg, Moravia now known as Pribor in
Czech Republic. His father was a wool merchant. Freud was the
oldest of eight children. When he was three years old his family
was forced to move to Leipzig due to anti-Semitic riots. After a
short stay at Leipzig the family moved to Vienna the capital of
Austria to settle there.
Freuds ambition from childhood was to
become a lawyer. The German poet Goethes scientific
investigations on natural science inspired him. So he decided to
join medical school in 1873. In the third year of his university
he started research work on central nervous system in the
physiological laboratory under German Physician Ernest Wilhelm
von Brucke. Due to the interest in research work Freud neglected
his prescribed courses and forced to stay three more years longer
to qualify as a physician. He also had completed his compulsory
military training in this period. He graduated from University of
Vienna in 1881. But, not willing to leave his experimental work
he remained as a demonstrator in the physiological laboratory.
Freud married Martha Bernays in 1888 to
whom he had been engaged four years before their marriage.They
had six children. The last child Anna was born in 1895 and it was
she who followed his profession to become a famous Psychoanalyst.
In 1883 due to the advice of Brucke he
joined General Hospital of Vienna for practical experience. There
he devoted himself to psychiatry and nervous disorders. In 1885
he was appointed as a lecturer in neuropathology at the
University of Vienna.
In the same year Freud received a
government grant to study in Paris under the famous French
Neurologist Jean Martin Charcot, who was working with patients
who suffered from hysteria. The association with Charcot
influenced Freud a lot.
In 1886 Freud returned to Vienna and began
to work with hysteria patients. Although in the beginning he used
hypnosis for the treatment of hysteria, he later abandoned it in
favor of his own technique called free association technique.
Later he came up with new ideas and framed
up his theories into a new system called Psychoanalysis. In 1890 he presented his ideas in public. He met
with violent opposition from medical profession. However, he
attracted a group of followers. Alfred Adler (Austrian
Psychiatrist who later founded Individual Psychology), Otto Rank
(Austrian Psychologist), Eugen Bleuler (Swiss Psychiatrist), Carl
Gustav Jung (Swiss Psychiatrist who later founded Analytical
Psychology) were among the earliest followers of Freud.
Eventually, he gained international recognition and in 1910 the
International Psychoanalytical Association was founded.
Later two of his followers split with Freud
and developed their own themes. They were Alfred Adler and Carl
Jung. Freud was constantly modified his theories with new
findings and published a revised version of many of his earlier
theories in 1923.
In the same year he was stricken with
cancer in his jaw. Painful treatment and surgeries conducted.
With all this agonies and sufferings from his illness he
continued his literary activities for a long period of sixteen
In 1938 Germans Occupied Austria. As a Jew
he had to escape with his family. With the help of his friends he
moved to England. He died in Sept.23,1939.
Theories of Freud
Unconscious and Behavior:
Freud observed that on the behavior of
patients the unconscious plays a major role in shaping the
behavior patterns and they were behaving to the drives and
experiences. He also observed that the unconscious is full of
memories of events from early childhood and these memories people
were kept out of conscious awareness.
Mind and Mental Health:
Based on his studies and clinical
experience, Freud divided the mind into three namely: Id, Ego,
and Superego. The Id is the unconscious part of the mind, the ego
is the conscious part of the mind and the superego is the
conscience. In a healthy person all these three will work in
Initially Freud used hypnosis in the
treatment of neurotic patients. Later he found that if the
patients were allowed to speak out freely about anything that
comes to their mind, they improved a lot. Based on this
observation he devised a method called free association and used
it and dream analysis to the treatment of neurotic patients.
Freud was one of the most influential
thinker in the history. His writings changed many beliefs about
human nature and the strongest impact was on psychology and
psychiatry. His theories had influence not only on the concept of
the nature of human sexuality but also on social relationships.
Freuds contributions went beyond psychoanalysis, into
religion, mythology, art and literature. His ideas and techniques
stood the test of time. Many of them were refined and modified
and are still used in treatment of mental disorders.
Major Works of Freud
The important works are:
The Interpretation of Dreams(1900),
The Psychopathology of Everyday Life(1902)
The Jokes and Their relationship to the
Three Essays on the Theory of
Totem and Taboo(1913),
General Introduction to
The Ego and the Id (1923)
and Civilization and its Discontents(1930)
The Moses and Monotheism(1939)