Freud and his psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939) was an austrian neurologist and the founder of “psychoanalysis”.


His life

Sigmund grew up in Vienna, where he spent almost his entire life (from the age of four until one year before his death). As the son of Jacob Freud and his mother Amalia, who were Jewish, he had two stepbrothers from the previous marriage of his father and seven younger siblings. He was favoured over his other siblings.

After joining the local elementary school, he attended a prominent high school in Leopoldstadt in 1865. He graduated in 1873 with excellent marks. In the same year, Freud enrolled the medical school in Vienna, where he, eight years later, received his doctor of medicine. After receiving his M.D., Freud spent three years in a general hospital in Vienna, thereof he was 5 months in the psychiatry department, which was not very developed at that time. In 1885, he went to Paris to study with Jean Martin Charcot, a well known neurologist in Europe at that time. Back in Vienna, Freud now opened his own practice, specializing on neurology. Right after that, in 1886, he married Martha Bernays.

His work

Freud did a lot of experiments to cure his patients. One of them was the treatment with hypnosis. As he recognized that this method was ineffective, he favoured a treatment where he let talk his patients talk through their problems. This was called “talking cure” and it was almost seen as the basis for psychoanalysis. Furthermore, Freud set up several theories, which widely concern the question of how the human mind is structured. Notable is, for example, his theory about the “Stages of Development” (also: “Psychosexual Development”). It says that as humans grow up, they become fixated on different and specific objects during their development (oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage, genital stage). Another important theory resulting from Freud's work is his “Theory on dreams”. Freud called dreams a 'journey into the unconscious', he believed that many people repressed painful memories into their unconscious mind. He coined the phrases “the descriptive unconscious“, “the dynamic unconscious” and “the system unconscious”.

Later Freud put this theory aside and replaced it with the concept of the “ego, super-ego and id”. These three terms divide the human psyche into three parts. The “Id”, after Freud, is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality and it is responsible for the basic drives of a human being. It is according to the “pleasure principle” by Freud. The “ego” is equivalent with the “reality principle” and it seeks to please the basic drives in realistic ways. The “super-ego” aims for perfection, it comprises the individual ego ideals and works in contradiction to the “Id”. Out of these three parts, only the ego is displayed on the surface of the human psyche.

Freud also built up several theories about “Defense Mechanisms”. These are unconscious methods of dealing with anxiety. Some of them are 'compensation', 'denial', 'displacement', 'projection', 'rationalization' and some other terms.

I hope that you all got a really rough overview about Freud's life and his work. If you want to get a bit more into his theories, I found a really good page on the internet, where I almost found all my information on this topic:

Check the page if you are interested in more information.

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