Known as the “father of psychology,” Freud developed many of the first theories of modern physiology. His ideas and concepts will continue to be studied through the years. He put forth many new concepts about sexuality, consciousness, unconsciousness and instincts. He spent his whole life devoted to discovering the secrets of the human nature. Personally I think this guy was weird.
Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856 in Freiburg. The town of Freiburg later became Pribor and was eventually absorbed into the modern state of Czechoslovakia. Freud’s father, name Jakob Freud was a Jewish wool merchant. Freud’s mother Amalie Nathanson was from Galicia. She was Jakob’s second wife. Sigmund had eight brothers and sisters in all. Two of which were from Jakob’s first marriage. The other six were from Amelia. His first influences to science were when he heard lectures on Goethe. In 1873 he applied to the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Vienna, here was where he changed his name from Sigismund to Sigmund. He earned is doctorate in medicine and worked as a research assistant under Ernst Von Brucke, as a neurologist. In 1882, Freud became interested in the effects and benefits of cocaine. He spent long hours recording the effects they had on his body. These studies hurt his status as a scientist because other scientists already documented the harmful effects cocaine has on the body. In 1886 Freud started his first office of neurology in Vienna. That same year he married Martha Bernays. This marriage produced six children named Mathilde, Martin, Oliver, Ernst, Sophia and Anna. Also around that time in 1885 he produced his studies on hysteria. In 1900 Freud published his first book called the “Interpretation of Dreams”, which made him famous. The next year he published “Psycho Pathology of Everyday Life”. Also in 1901 he became an associate professor of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Vienna, where he gained his doctorate. Later he founded the International Association of Psychoanalysis in 1910. In 1920 he was hired as a full professor of the University of Vienna where he gained vast experience with patients, sometimes spending up to twelve hours with single patients. Also in 1920 he published “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”. In 1923 Freud became ill with cancer. To deal with the pain Freud developed an intense and uncontrollable cocaine habit. In 1939 Freud died of cancer in London at age 83. His daughter Anna later became a pioneer creating child psychoanalysis and founding the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic.
Freud developed theories about the parts of the conscious and unconscious which developed during the first eight years of life. He separated it into three parts: the id, ego and super ego. The id possesses the instincts that we gain at conception. The id is the most important part of the three components. The id provides the basic necessities, such as the will to survive, obtain food and seek shelter. The ego drives the voluntary behavior of the human body. It is the link between the id and the outside world. It is gives one as the ability to choose. The ego’s main job is the awareness of stimuli. The id and the ego control the demands of instincts and they have many important defenses against anxiety. Displacement directs energy onto another object, e.g. blaming others. Rationalization, sublimation, and regression are among the other defense mechanisms of the id and ego. The third and last aspect of the mind is the super ego, also known as the conscience. It basically maintains the information learned from the parents’ admonitions through the early years of life. It represents lessons and experiences a human goes through during his/her lifetime. Freud developed a theory that each of the three basic mental parts keeps each other in check. Like the checks and balances system our government uses. So that each has a specific power over the other but all are equal. Freud tried to narrow down all the needs the mind wants to only the basic necessities or libido.
Freud sought to break down childhood into four basic periods of conflict. Anxiety occurs if the needs of the child are not met. The first stage would be the oral stage, which is from birth to the age one. So named because of the fact that the newborn gains all stimuli and nourishment by the mouth through breast-feeding. The second stage is the anal stage. It is after the oral stage until the third year of the newborn’s life. Named thus because of the conflict of learning to be toilet trained. The phallic or third stage finds the child facing the Oedipus complex. Oedipus was a mythological man in Greek history. He was born not knowing who is mother was and later in life he fell in love with his mother and she convinced him to kill his father. He then cut out his eyes in self-denial. Freud suggests that everyone has the urge to sleep with their mother and kill their father (a bit odd). In the phallic stage the female learns about the absence of a penis (the first signs of penis envy). Thus considering herself inferior and spends the rest of her life feeling inferior. The conflict during the phallic stage involves masturbation and narcissism. The last and most mature stage is the genital period. Here the child learns about the opposite sex and pleasure comes not from self-gratification but understanding the needs of another.
Freud has developed many theories about human nature. Other famous scientists in this area include Alfred Adler and Carl Jung. Freud came up with theory of psychoanalysis by using himself as a subject. He spent his entire life studying human nature and childhood. His ideas, concepts and theories shall be continued on through the years. I believe his ideas are only considered important as reflect the lives of individuals with whom Freud worked, i.e. psychiatric patients. They appear radical when we attempt to apply them in their entirety to healthy individuals.