Picture of Sigmund Freud (Founder of Psychoanalysis Theory)
Sigmund Freud was a Viennese neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis (1856-1939). He took his medical degree at the University Vienne in 1881 and planned a specialist’s career in neurology. Lack of means forced him to abandon his research interests for a clinical career. His interest in what was to become psychoanalysis development during his collaboration with Josef Breuer in 1884, which resulted in StudiesHysteria. The Interpretation of Dreams appeared in 1900, Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex in 1905, and the General Introduction to Psychoanalysis in 1916 – a book that contained the evolving theory of the libido and the unconscious. In subsequent years Freud’s outlook became increasingly broad as revealed by the titles of his later works: Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), The Future of an Illusion (1928), and Civilization and Its Discontents (1930). As early as 1906 Freud had also interested himself in founding an organization to promote the diffusion of psychoanalytic knowledge. Men who were to become famous in their own right joined with him- Adler, Brill, Ferenzi, Jones, Jung, and Stekel. By 1908 the first International Congress of Psychoanalysis had convened, and by 1910 there were branches in all important countries in the world. In 1938, when the Nazis entered England, where he died of cancer of the mouth on September 23, 1939. He left his influence on every department of thought.
II. THEORY SYNTHESIS
Psychoanalysis is a system of psychology directed toward the understanding, cure, and prevention of mental disorders. As conceived by Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis is a dynamic system of psychology that seeks the roots of human behavior in unconscious motivation and conflict. It takes as its point of departure the concept of the libido, which is defined basically as sexual energy, both in its original form and as it is modified during development into all forms of love, affection, and the will to live. How sexual energy develops in the child – whether normal, or blocked and distorted into unhealthy channels – is of great significance in the individual’s overall development and ability to adjust to life’s problems.
In the early stage the libido is said to be polymorphous perverse, since it is fixated on several parts of the body in turn, attachments, that, if they occur in the adult, are considered perversions. The first source of satisfaction is the oral region, with pleasure being obtained from sucking, chewing, and biting, Weaning eventually interferes with this source of satisfaction, and the infant’s libido is next directed toward the anal region, with satisfaction being obtained from the activities of the lower bowel and from playing with feces, a stage of infantile development known as the anal erotic stage. Anal eroticism is eventually frustrated by toilet training and the child progresses to the period of early genital eroticism, satisfaction being derived from masturbation. Fixations may occur during any of these stages, with a resulting weakly developed character structure.
The child is also seeking an external object to satisfy his erotic desires and because of proximity and tenderness toward him, the parent of the opposite sex is chosen. In the boy, this complex of desires is called the Oedipus complex; in the girl it is called the Electra complex. Because the child fears retaliation on the part of the parent for his incestuous desires, he eventually represses them, and a considerable portion of the libidinal energies is directed toward socialization. The beginning of this stage of development marks the end of the infantile period and the beginning of the latent period, which lasts until the stage of adult genital sexuality is reached.
Freud’s account of mind and personality follows a tripartite schema, which in the case of mind involves three levels of consciousness, respectively called the unconscious, the subconscious, and the conscious. The unconscious – the seat of the libido and of repressed memories – is considered by Freud to be the most important level of mind. Personality is considered to have developed out of the primitive, id, or the original, animalistic aspect of the self characteristic of the infant. From the id develops the ego, the part of personality that attempts to deal with reality at the same time as it strives to allow the id as many of its demands as possible. The ego is also under pressure from the superego – Freud’s equivalent of the conscience – which originates from the internalization of parental prohibitions and restrictions and continues to be a kind of ideal aspect of the self that seeks to govern the id through its mediator, the ego. Thus, in Freudian theory, mind is a three-way battleground. Neuroses occur when the ego becomes weakened though severe conflict with the id of with the environment. Normally the ego can withstand great stress but, if its energies have been depleted by maintaining repressions, insufficient energy remains for dealing with reality.
Psychoanalysis as a therapy attempts to overcome repressions and thereby release energy for healthy, normal living. This is largely accomplished by means of free association and dream analysis conducted over long periods of time in order to overcome resistances and get at the sources of the unconscious impulses.
III. PERSONAL INSIGHTS
Freud started his professional activity as a neurologist trying to bring a cure to his neurotic patients. Under the influence of many men and tried his own efforts, he discovered some important new facts about unconscious anxiety in life – the root of all instinctual impulses and so on. Out of this findings, through a new science, psychoanalysis as part of psychology is a new method of treatment of neurosis.
Psychoanalysis focuses primarily on its foundation about sex and aggression.
Freud did not use the experimental methods of science. Instead he relied more on deductive reasoning and subjective observation. That’s why many contemporary writers criticized him and his theory – his theory as unscientific. But for a century now, his theory has been honored and condemned, glorified and vilified, praised and disparaged.
New Standard Encyclopedia
Dictionary of Psychology, J.P. Chaplin, Ph. D.