Sigmund Freud was an Austrian psychiatrist who researched the structure and behavior of the mind, as well as the pathologies associated with it.
His main contribution to human knowledge was the creation of psychoanalysis. This discipline is both a research method and a therapeutic technique.
His theory was based on the study of patients, and his cases have been published, supporting his theories. His works and discoveries were published in the late nineteenth century, revolutionizing twentieth-century thinking, for its main innovations:
The possibility of treating psychic conditions with an alternative therapy to drugs: psychoanalysis
The discovery of a sector of thought alien to our own knowledge: the unconscious.
Next, and as a summary of Freud’s theory, we expose the most important characteristics.
Characteristics Of Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856 in the Czech Republic. It was son Jacob Freud, of an orthodox Jew, and his third wife, Amalia Nathansohn.
From a very young age Freud showed his intelligence and curiosity, being able to read in German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Latin and Greek. After studying law, philosophy and zoology outside the university, he graduated as a doctor in 1881. He devoted himself to dermatology and psychiatry. He married Martha Bernays in 1886, with whom he had six children: Mathilde, Jean-Martin, Oliver, Ernst, Sophie and Anna.
In Paris, together with Jean Martin Charcot, he studied the use of hypnosis in the treatment of mental disorders. The concepts of psychoanalysis were developed mainly between 1895 and 1900, but his research continued throughout his life. He died on September 23, 1939, in London.
Psychoanalysis has a double nature: on the one hand it is a research method and on the other hand it is a therapeutic practice. Both aspects of psychoanalysis affect each other.
Both the practice and the research are based on the same descriptive and explanatory theoretical model about the phenomena of the human soul’s life. Psychoanalysis is a form of psychology, but not the only one.
3. The unconscious
It is probable that Freud’s greatest discovery was the existence of unconscious contents in the human mind. The unconscious are all contents that are not accessible to consciousness and that nevertheless are part of thought.
The unconscious is organized in the system of thought, alien to the structure of the word. That is to say that in the unconscious, the concepts are not separated from each other but that nearby thoughts can be fused and confused.
We only have access to the contents of the unconscious when they become preconscious, in the form of dreams, fantasy and art. The unconscious affects all our conscious life, from our musical preferences to our choice of partner.
Psychoanalytic techniques consist of making the unconscious conscious to avoid the psychic suffering of mental illness.
Repression is the process by which the mind converts an event (a fact, person or emotion) into an unconscious content. This is an involuntary defense mechanism that we perform when we find something that becomes intolerable.
However, no content can be repressed completely successfully, but the repressed returns, manifesting itself in the form of jokes, dreams or cultural productions, or, in the worst cases, originating psychic pathologies (such as hysteria, compulsion, hypochondria, etc.). When the psychic pathologies appear, psychoanalysis maintains that the most effective way to cure them is to make the repressed contents conscious.
5. Oedipus complex
Freud discovered that the boy wants to seduce his mother, creating a conflict with the father. The father represents the law, which prevents union with the mother. Freud discovered that the taboo (prohibition) of incest is common to all known cultures. The Oedipus Complex is the stage through which the infant passes in accepting the paternal prohibition and stops looking for the mother.
This process is lodged in the unconscious, leaving marks that condition the choice of future partners. The name of this process was taken by Freud from the myth of Oedipus, an adopted Greek prince who, without knowing it, murders his biological father and marries his biological mother.
6. The interpretation of dreams
Freud discovered that dreams convey unconscious contents, making them preconscious. Dreams can clearly represent a desire, only when consciousness can accept the existence of that desire. However, if the desire has been repressed, it appears covert, that is, an interpretation is necessary.
7. The pleasure principle
Psychoanalytic theory holds that the psyche always seeks to achieve pleasure and avoid displeasure. That is to say that the main motivating force for the functioning of the unconscious is pleasure. That is why the thoughts that produce excessive pain are repressed. However, the conscious mind does not operate under the pleasure principle, but under the reality principle, which is its opposite: the need to adapt to one’s environment. Therefore, that repressed manifests again in the form of a symptom.
8. Structures of the mind
The different functions of the mind can be grouped into three structures:
It: they are the primal impulses and the motor of our behavior. Here is the pleasure principle.
Superego: represents the law, the limits, the principles. It is built thanks to the passage through the Oedipus Complex.
Me: acts by responding to both the id and the superego.
Some of his most important works are:
Studies on hysteria 1895
The interpretation of the dreams. 1898
Psychopathology of everyday life 1900
The joke and its relation to the unconscious. 1905
Three essays for a sexual theory 1905
Totem and taboo. 1905
I have been a lucky man: in life nothing was easy for me.
The good ones content themselves with dreaming what the bad guys do.
It is a good exercise to be completely honest with yourself.
Anyone who wakes up behaves as he does in dreams would be taken for crazy.
I can not think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for protection.
This is absurd! (last words before dying).