Sigmund Freud

A Biography Written by Pamela Castañeda

Freud As a Psychologist

Freud is known as the “father of psychoanalysis”, he was a very well known psychologist of the early twentieth century. Freud was born in Frieberg, Moravia, in 1856,though he moved to Vienna as a little child, but had to flee in 1938 as he was Jew (he fled to England). Freud is considered one of the most influential minds of the twentieth century thanks to the theories he developed on child sexuality, libido, ego, etc. He also developed psychoanalysis, a clinical method used to unfold unconscious conflicts. Freud developed the tripartite model of the personality/mind.

Sigmund Freud "The father of psychoanalysis"

His multiple theories are what is studied in psychology today and what has helped us further understand the human mind.

Some of his most important theories...

More background on Freud:


  • Throughout his career, Freud was influenced by his friend and colleague, Josef Breuer.
  • Even though he treated many people, Freud considered himself a scientist rather than a doctor. In fact, he insisted that the psychoanalysis was a new science, with a scientific method to deal with mental illness.
  • Freud had six children, his youngest daughter, Anna, became a great psychoanalyst later on.
  • Sigmund Freud committed suicide with a dose of morphine after a long battle with oral cancer, he died in 1939.

Sigmund Freud's Theories:

The Mind as an Iceberg

Freud used the analogy of an iceberg to explain the three stages of the mind that he modeled. Consciousness, like the tip of the iceberg, is what people show, the parts of the personality that each person is aware of, of what is in the mind in the moment. Just under the surface line of the iceberg is the preconscious. This stage consists of the memories of recent events. These memories are not part of your immediate awareness anymore, but can be brought to it quickly. The third stage of the mind proposed by Freud is the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is the part that you cannot see, most of the time people don’t know what is in their unconscious mind. The unconscious mind has lots of important and influential material that people keep out of their awareness because they are too threatening to acknowledge completely. Freud believed the unconscious mind is the most important part of the mind, and he believed it directed most of people’s behavior.

Id, Ego and Superego

According to Freud, people are born only with Id. The Id wants whatever brings pleasure to the person in that moment. The Id doesn't care about reality, or anything else that is not one's own satisfaction. When a child is around 3 years old, he or she begins to develop their ego, the second part of the personality. The ego is the part of the personality that understands reality and that other people have needs as well, the ego allows people to see that impulse actions hurt us in the long run. Once a child is at the end of the phallic stage, it develops his or her superego, which is usually developed thanks to our surrounding and our family. The superego is the moral part of the personality, it says what is right and what is wrong.
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Psychosexual Stages

Freud developed this theory after studying many people’s desires and experiences with love. He believed people are driven to seek pleasure by gratifying Id’s desires.

Each psycho-sexual stage represents the fixation of libido -like a sexual drive - in a different part of the body in each stage. As a person grows, there are parts of their body that become higher sources of either pleasure or frustration.
Freud believed that all the tension people build up is caused by libido (sexual energy or desire) and that people feel pleasure by releasing that tension.

The oral stage (0-1 year):
The baby feels pleasure in putting things in its mouth (sucking, biting, breastfeeding, etc.). This stage can show up later in life, you can see it in smokers, nail biters, etc.
The Anal Stage (1-3 years):
The child feels pleasure when defecating because the libido derives from the anal area. Also, in this stage the ego has begun to develop. An early or harsh potty training can cause a hate for mess and a stubborness on the personality. A lineral potty training can cause a messy, rebellious person.
Phallic Stage (3- 5/6 years):
The pleasure now comes from the genitals and masturbation.
Oediphs Complex: A conflict in boys that happens when they develop a sexual desire for his mother, the boy then resolves to adopt his father's behavior.
Electra Complex: The girls wish to be boys when they realize they have no penis. Then she proceeds to take on the female role.

Latency Stage (5/6 - puberty):

During this stage, the libido is "dormant". The child is distracted, or releases that tension in other activities, such as hobbies or meeting with friends, etc.

Genital Stage (puberty to adult):

The pleasure is focused more on heterosexual pleasure instead of self pleasure like what happens in the phallic stage.

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Psychoanalysis

This type of therapy is commonly used to treat depression and anxiety. The psychoanalytic theory suggests that any psychological problem is rooted in the unconscious mind. Therefore, this therapy consists on bringing the unconscious mind's conflicts out so the person can move on.
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Freudian Slip

Freud believed you reveal what your unconscious thinks when you say something you didn't mean to.

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Free Association

Psychoanalytic technique in which the patient just says whatever comes to mind, and that will bring to light what the patient is thinking in their unconscious mind.
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Thank you for reading!