Sigmund Freud

By Bella Israel

Background

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was born in Frieberg, Moravia. He was a physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist, and influential thinker who worked in close collaboration with Joseph Breuer.


Freud attracted many followers, who formed a famous group in 1902 called the "Psychological Wednesday Society". Freud established an inner circle of devoted followers. At the beginning of 1908, the committee renamed themselves the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.

Theory

Freud elaborated the theory that the mind is a complex energy system. He was the founding father of psychoanalysis, which is a method for treating mental illness and also a theory which explains human behavior. He proposed that physical symptoms are often the surface manifestations of deeply repressed conflicts. He also introduced many words through his theories that are now used, such as anal (personality), libido, denial, repression, cathartic, Freudian slip, and neurotic.

The levels of the mind

The unconscious mind

The conscious mind (everything we are aware of) is only the tip of the iceberg. The unconscious mind governs behavior to a greater degree than people suspect. Freud acknowledged that some events and desires are too frightening or painful for patients to acknowledge. This is known as repression. Dreams serve as valuable clues to how the unconscious mind operates, and can cause repressed material to come through to awareness because the ego's defenses are lowered.
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The Psyche

The psyche is a structural model of the mind which consists of the three entities id (instincts), ego (reality), and superego (morality). Id operates at an unconscious level according to the pleasure principle. It comprises 2 different drives called Eros and Thanatos. Eros is the life instinct, which helps an individual to survive. It directs life sustaining functions such as respiration, eating, and sex. The energy created by life instincts is known as libido. Thanatos is the death instinct, viewed as a set of destructive forces present in all human beings. This is expressed as aggression and violence. However, Eros is stronger than Thanatos, enabling people to survive rather than self destruct.


Ego develops from the id during infancy. The goal of ego is to satisfy the demands of the id in a safe and socially acceptable way. Unlike id, the ego follows the reality principle as it operates in both the conscious and unconscious mind. Ego can use various defense mechanisms to prevent it from becoming overwhelmed.


The superego develops during early childhood, when the child identifies with the same sex parent. It is responsible for ensuring moral standards are followed.

Example of this theory

The case of "Anna O" influenced the future direction of psychology as a whole. She suffered from hysteria without an apparent physical cause. Doctor Joseph Breuer succeeded in treating Anna by helping her recall forgotten memories. Freud pursued the idea of repressed memories for the rest of his life.

Defense Mechanisms

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Sources

McLeod, Saul. "Sigmund Freud's Theories | Simply Psychology." Sigmund Freud's Theories | Simply Psychology. N.p., 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.


Thornton, Stephen. "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.