Sigmund Freud was born in Frieberg, Moravia (current day Pribor, Czech Republic) in 1856. During the year 1860, Sigmund Freud moved to Vienna, Italy where he would live until his last few years. In 1873, he passed his Matura (school leaving certificate) and enrolls into Vienna University.
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He initially studied biology at Vienna University for six years under the German scientist Ernst Brücke. Ernst Brücke was the direct of Physiology Laboratory, and a specialist in neurology. So under Ernst Brücke, Sigmund Freud started to study more about neurology, setting his path for his career. In 1881, he received his medical degree.
Shortly after graduating, Sigmund Freud married Martha Bernays in 1882. Sigmund Freud would have six children, with the youngest of the six, Anna, eventually becoming a distinguished physcoanalyst herself. Once married, Freud took up a job at Vienna General Hospital. During the years 1885-1886, Freud traveled to Paris and met neurologist Jean Charcot. He would become very interested in Charcot’s work of hypnotism to treat various abnormal mental conditions. Upon returning to Vienna, Sigmund Freud started to study hypnosis, but found that the benefits of hypnosis were not a long term solution. He started to research another method found by one of his older colleague, Josef Breuer. Josef Breuer had found that when you ask a patient to talk about the earliest experiences of a symptom, they will sometimes see positive outcomes. Breuer and Freud would come up with a theory that many neurons (phobias, and paranoias) were the outcome of early traumatic experiences that were “forgotten—hidden from consciousness,” (Thornton). Their treatment allowed for the patients to recall these past experiences, eventually leading to the symptoms fading away. In 1895, Sigmund Freud and his colleague Josef Breuer published Studies in Hysteria.
Shortly after publishing their book, the two colleagues parted ways. The two men parted ways because Freud thought that it should be placed more on sexual origins and the content of neuroses. After parting ways Sigmund Freud continued to develop and perfect his psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a therapy used to treat mental disorders through a process of interacting with conscious and subconscious thoughts in hopes of quieting a fear or conflict. Some techniques include dream interpretation and free association. Dream Interpretation was a technique developed by Sigmund Freud after a period of self analysis. He published his most famous work, The Interpretation of Dreams, in 1900. This would eventually become his greatest work, but at the beginning it would not be accepted throughout much of the community due to how sexually based it was. In 1901, he published Psychopathology of Everyday Life, and in 1905, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Once again his psychoanalytic theories would not be well received. However in the year 1908, the first International Psychoanalytical Congress was held in Salzburg, bringing light to Freud theories. The Congress would soon realize how important Sigmund Freud’s work was, thus leading to his invitation to speak in the United States. From speaking in the United States he would develop and author another book, Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, which would be published in 1916. He would live out the rest of his life, publishing twenty more “volumes of theoretical works and clinical studies,” (Thornton). In the year 1939, Sigmund Freud died of cancer in England.
Sigmund Freud wrote many works dealing with psychoanalysis, but Studies on Hysteria, The Interpretation of Dreams, and The Psychopathology of Everyday Life were some of his greatest works. The main themes between the three books was Freud’s signature study of psychoanalysis. It showed how we can break down our thoughts and dreams to uncover what we fear most or are in conflict with.
His first work that he ever published was Studies of Hysteria. During this time period, the term “hysteria was a general term, which encompassed a wide array of mental illnesses,” (sigmundfreud.net). Both Freud and Breuer agreed that the cause of these mental illnesses originated within your mind. They worked tirelessly to eventually find “the talking cure,” (sigmundfreud.net). The first section of their book, would go into detail about how the cure was found and how it works. They talk about how hysteria can only be brought out and cured by a professional psychoanalysis. Once the professional psychoanalyst had found the unique symptom to each patient, they could bring the forgotten memory to consciousness. Thus curing the patient of all symptoms. The means of bringing the memory to consciousness was through hypnosis, a practice that Freud had studied in France. The second part of Freud and Breuer’s book would showcase patients and how the doctors had cured them. Overall, Freud and Breuer’s work around hysteria opened many doors around mental illnesses during this time. This was the first time that mental illnesses were being studied, thus leading to how we approach mental illnesses today. We have learned that traumatic experiences in our past can “manifest in the present,” (sigmundfreud.net), and that our subconscious is more in control than we ever knew.
In 1901, Sigmund Freud wrote one of his most influential books to psychoanalysis. Psychopathology of Everyday Life went into detail about how important everyday encounters can be. He would dive deeper into the importance of the subconscious mind, explaining how even your dreams represent aspects of your daily life. Freud theorized that even the most meaningless actions were first “preconceived in the subconscious without a person’s awareness,” (sigmundfreud.net). He found that the main factor behind the subconscious developed for many years. This included social aspects of daily life and the moral education of someone. However, Freud did find that sometimes the subconscious can suppress or interfere with the conscious mind. This would result in the loss of a memory, like forgetting someone’s name. Freud found that there was a basic three step pattern. First, there must have been an urge to forget the name. Then, suppression by the subconscious. And finally, there is a relationship between the forgotten name and the individual’s past experiences (sigmundfreud.net). Sigmund Freud again shares one of his greatest contributions to psychoanalysis. He keeps on building on how important our subconscious is to daily life, it acts “like an iceberg, the conscious part of the mind being the tip of the iceberg,” (sigmundfreud.net).
Sigmund Freud’s most well known work and biggest contributor to psychoanalysis was published in the year 1900. The Interpretation of Dreams dove into Freud studies of mind, further building his case for his iceberg theory. He proposed that the mind was always trying to stay awake. Dreams are that path, they represent a way for the mind to keep processing while the person has gone to sleep. Through his study of dreams, Freud discovered that you are able to learn of someone’s motives, or desires, through the analysis of their dreams. He often looked at literature written in the past. But more often than not, Freud came up with the same conclusion that no one had made progress on the analysis of dreams. So starting from scratch, Freud started to study his patients, analyzing their dream for common occurrences. Freud’s work revealed that many times they mind would hide the real meaning of the dream in hopes of protecting “its moral integrity,” (sigmundfreud.net). Using free association, Freud found that by asking the patient to associate objects in the real world with objects in their dreams, he could draw up conclusions. Free association is when a patient is asked to relive their dream. Once again Sigmund Freud found that dreams are very important to remaining sane. By fulfilling their desire or motive in a dreams, the individual is then able to process and remain normal in the real world. According to Freud, many benefits occur because of dreams. Like how dreams can help deal with the loss of a loved one, lower aggression in society, and fulfill desires of revenge. Sigmund Freud’s work from the early twentieth century continues to be a stepping stone for modern day studies of the mind and dreams.
By Sigmund Freud’s death in 1939, he had compiled a massive amount of work and evidence. Through his most major works and studies he built a basis for what is known today as psychoanalysis. His studies brought him to find out the importance of the subconscious, from everyday decisions, to forgetting a name or date. Freud’s studies also came to find a treatment for hysteria, as it was know back then, which was recalling and confronting your past. Then Sigmund Freud published his most famous work about dream interpretation. Freud came to find that dreams were a way to keep sane, cope with the loss of loved ones, release anger, and represent desire. Sigmund Freud passed on a torch to modern day psychoanalysis, he showed them the light down the tunnel, forever hoping to reach the end.
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