Sigmund Freud

May 6th 1856 - September 23th, 1939


Sigmund Freud was the eldest of 6 children. He was born May 6th, 1856 in Freiberg, Austria. Both his parents married before having any children out of wedlock. Throughout his life Sigmund freud was the favorite of his parents six children. His parents adored his main attributes about him such as him being a studious and serious child.

Background of Theorist

Earlier in his life he was home schooled by both his parents. Shortly after finishing primary school he joined what was called a sperl gymnasium ( a german grammar school ). Being the smart and studious child his parents knew he was, he quickly became the top of the class. Sigmund, with no surprise graduated earlier than everyone in his age group in 1873. He then decided to pursue medical training as a career for a short while at the University of Vienna. Unfortunately it took him eight years to receive his medical degree because he was so interested in scientific research that it distracted him.

Synopsis of Theory

Sigmund Freud explored the human mind more thoroughly than any other who became before him. His contributions to psychology are vast. Freud was one of the most influential people of the twentieth century and his enduring legacy has influenced not only psychology, but art, literature and even the way people bring up their children.

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

Psychoanalysis is often known as the talking cure. Typically Freud would encourage his patient to talk freely (on his famous couch) regarding their symptoms and to describe exactly what was in their mind.

Freud developed psychoanalysis, a method through which an analyst unpacks unconscious conflicts based on the free associations, dreams and fantasies of the patient. His theories on child sexuality, libido and the ego, among other topics, were some of the most influential academic concepts of the 20th century.

His work supported the belief that not all mental illnesses have physiological causes and he also offered evidence that cultural differences have an impact on psychology and behavior. His work and writings contributed to our understanding of personality, clinical psychology, human development and abnormal psychology.

Freud believes that as a child we pass through three different Psychosexual stages, Oral, Anal, and Phallic. If the child faces issues within each phase issues can carry through into adult hood.

1-The Oral Stage: Birth to 18 Months

2- The Anal Stage: 18 Months to Three Years

3- The Phallic Stage: 3 Years to 6 Years

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The Anal Stage: 18 Months to Three Years

The anal stage occurs from age two to three. The membranes of the anal region provide the major source of pleasurable stimulation.Sigmund believed that during this time children derive pleasure from retaining or eliminating faeces. And this is also the time frame in which many parents choose to potty train their children. It is also thought that an individual who is toilet trained too young or forcefully that an individual was more likely to be obsessively neat in adulthood or mean.

This is also where the expression “anal-retentive” comes from when describing someone that is excessively neat, precise or orderly. As a result if the child didnt have such a strict toilet training experience, Freud claimed it was more likely that the child would grow up to be a nicer and creative adult.

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The Phallic Stage: 3 Years to 6 Years

The phallic stage occurs from ages three to six. Freud believed that children’s pleasure centres focused on their genitals. It focuses on self-manipulation of the genitals as providing the major source of pleasurable stimulation.

He further theorized that young boys develop unconscious sexual feelings for their mothers, complicating their relationships with both parents. Struggling with a feeling that they are in competition with their fathers for the attention of their mums, Freud felt that boys from 3-6 years also fear that their fathers will punish them for these sexual feelings.

In general each stage of development places demands on an individual and arouses conflicts that must be resolved. According to Freud, each young boy symbolically relives the Oedipus drama. He has incestuous cravings for his mother and views his father as a hated rival. Even though the father is considered a rival, the boy also fears his father.

Freud suggested that the boy feels intense anxiety and as a result repressed his sexual desire for his mother . Eventually if all goes well, the boy identifies with the father and comes to have harmless affection for the mother.

The Electra complex is the female counterpart. It is based on the view that each girl wants to possess her father and replace her mother. For either sex, resolution of this conflict is considered essential if a young adult is to develop.

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The Oral Stage: Birth to 18 Months

The first stage that we encounter is the oral stage. This stage occurs during the first two years of life.The mouth is the principal erogenous zone. An erogenous zone according to Freud was a particular part of the body where we seek and gain pleasure from.

For example, according to Freud an infant’s greatest source of gratification is sucking. It is often common to see an infant between the ages of one to two to be constantly putting objects in his or her mouth.

A baby’s first nourishment is received through suckling, and the sucking instinct is usually strong, even in newborns. Freud theorized that an infant’s oral focus brought not only nourishment, but pleasure.

For example if a person is orally fixated (according to Freud, they are stuck in the oral stage of development), a person may bite their nails, chew on pens.

Freud also blamed smoking, finger biting and finger sucking on fixation at the oral stage. On the other hand, if an infant does not receive adequate oral gratification, the individual may be prone to excessive eating or drinking in adult life.

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Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalysis