Sigmund Freud Background Info

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Sigmund Freud

Background Info

  • Born in middleclass neighborhood in Vienna

  • Went to school at the University of Vienna in 1873

  • By the 1890’s Freud had become an established physician

  • Married Martha Bernay and had six children; Matilde (1887), Jean Martin (1889), Oliver (1891), Ernst (1892), Sophie (1893), Anna (1895)

Field of Study

  • Austrian Psychologist, inventor of psychoanalysis

  • Had a major impact on Western thought and philosophy

  • discovery of the subconscious, founding of psychoanalysis and theories of human sexuality

  • emphasized that many of our problems in later life come from our relationships with our parents

  • Freud defines psychoanalysis as a procedure for the treatment for the medically ill

  • Freud was intrigued by cases involving child abuse, incest as well as other sexually related cases

Conscious Mind

  • conscious mind is what you are aware of at any particular moment, your present perceptions, memories, thoughts, fantasies, and feelings

  • anything that can easily be made conscious, the memories you are not at the moment thinking about but can readily bring to mind


  • Largest part of the mind

  • It includes all the things that are not easily available to awareness

  • our drives or instincts, and things that are put there because we can't bear to look at them, such as the memories and emotions associated with trauma

  • of our motivations, whether they be simple desires for food or sex, neurotic compulsions, or the motives of an artist or scientist

  • we are sometimes driven to deny or resist becoming conscious of these motives, and they are often available to us only in disguised form

tripartite model of the structure of the mind

  • The id is that part of the mind in which are situated the instinctual sexual drives which require satisfaction

  • the super-ego is that part which contains the 'conscience', socially-acquired control mechanisms (usually imparted in the first instance by the parents) which have been internalized

  • while the ego is the conscious self created by the dynamic tensions and interactions between the id and the super-ego, which has the task of reconciling their conflicting demands with the requirements of external reality

The Id

  • nervous system translates the organism's needs into motivational forces called instincts or drives (Freud called them wishes)

  • translation from need to wish is called the primary process

  • pleasure principle: a demand to take care of needs immediately

  • An example of this is an infant screaming for something. It does not know what it wants, it just knows it wants it now. The id is developed at birth.

  • As a want demands more and more of your attention (like a big piece of chocolate cake when you’re on a diet) that is the object breaking through to the conscious mind

The Ego

  • relates the organism to reality by means of its consciousness

  • it searches for objects to satisfy the wishes that id creates to represent the organisms needs

  • This is called the secondary process

  • functions according to the reality principle: take care of a need as soon as an appropriate object is found

  • Developed at around the age of one year

  • it keeps track of the rewards and punishments handed out by mom and dad

  • Psychoanalysis is used to gain access to that which the ego has tried to hide in the unconscious or disguise by means of other defense mechanisms

Defense Mechanisms

  • The mind possesses a number of 'defense mechanisms' to attempt to prevent conflicts from becoming too acute. A few examples are:

  • repression (pushing conflicts back into the unconscious)

  • sublimation (channeling the sexual drives into the achievement socially acceptable goals, in art, science, poetry, etc.)

  • fixation (the failure to progress beyond one of the developmental stages)

  • regression (a return to the behaviour characteristic of one of the stages).

  • For more info on the defense mechanisms go to:

The Super Ego

  • two aspects to the superego: the conscience, which is an internalization of punishments and warnings; The other is called the ego ideal

  • Ego ideal derives from rewards and positive models presented to the child

  • new set of needs and accompanying wishes of social rather than biological origins

  • Can conflict with the id

  • the superego represents society, and society often wants nothing better than to have you never satisfy your needs at all


  • life instincts: These instincts perpetuate (a) the life of the individual, by motivating him or her to seek food and water, and (b) the life of the species, by motivating him or her to have sex

  • death instinct: every person has an unconscious wish to die

  • nirvana principle: refers to non-existence, nothingness, the void, which is the goal of all life in Buddhist philosophy


  • The ego is the center of powerful forces: reality; society, as represented by the superego; biology, as represented by the id

  • It can feel threatened or overwhelmed, there are many types of anxiety

  • realistic anxiety or fear

  • moral anxiety: threat comes not from the outer, physical world, but from the internalized social world of the superego

  • neurotic anxiety. This is the fear of being overwhelmed by impulses from the id (losing control e.g. Temper, rationality, peace of mind)

Psychosexual Development Stages of Infantile Sexual Development

  • The oral stage lasts from birth to about 18 months. The focus of pleasure is the mouth (sucking and biting)

  • The anal stage lasts from about 18 months to three or four years old. The focus of pleasure is the anus (“holding it in”). This is also where the child learns BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION

  • The phallic stage lasts from three or four to five, six, or seven years old. The focus of pleasure is the genitalia (self explanatory)

  • The latent stage lasts from five, six, or seven to puberty (sexual drive is suppressed while learning)

  • The genital stage begins at puberty, and represents the resurgence of the sex drive in adolescence, and the more specific focusing of pleasure in sexual intercourse

The Oedipal Crisis

  • All children yearn for mother’s attention (essentially in a sexual way)

  • Son recognizes father as an archetype as he is a rival (gets to sleep with mother etc.)

  • castration anxiety, the fear of losing one's penis (develops as boys notice the difference between males and females)

The Theory of Hysteria

  • Every hysteria is the result of a traumatic experience, one that cannot be integrated into the person's understanding of the world

  • Or the result of a traumatic childhood experience (sexual abuse/molestation)

  • The emotions appropriate to the trauma are not expressed directly

  • They express themselves in behaviors that in a weak, vague way offer a response to the trauma

  • These symptoms are meaningful

  • When the client can be made aware of the meanings of his or her symptoms (e.g. through hypnosis) then the unexpressed emotions are released and no longer need to express themselves as symptoms

  • secret sexual desires lay at the bottom of all these hysterical neuroses


  • To re-establish a harmonious relationship between the id, ego, and superego which constitute the mind by uncovering and resolving unconscious repressed conflicts

  • when a hysterical patient was encouraged to talk freely about the earliest occurrences of her symptoms and fantasies, the symptoms began to disappear, and were eliminated entirely

  • she was induced to remember the initial trauma which caused them

The Big C

  • That’s right, Freud liked the yeyo. In fact, he loved cocaine so much that he sent it to friends, his fiancé, and prescribed it to his patients. Freud became interested in cocaine after reading a German doctor’s report that the drug increased soldiers’ endurance. He continued his work with a new energy.

  •  Freud concluded Uber Coca (1884) by recommending seven conditions for which cocaine pharmacotherapy might prove valuable:

  • as a mental stimulant

  • as a possible treatment for digestive disorders

  • as an appetite stimulant in case of wasting diseases

  • as a treatment of morphine and alcohol addiction

  • as a treatment for asthma

  • as an aphrodisiac

  • as a local anaesthetic

Major Works

  • Freud’s work can be divided into four main periods:

  • The exploration of neurosis, from the inception of practice (1886) until the "Studies on Hysteria" -1895.

  • Self-analysis - 1895-1899.

  • Id psychology, in which was elaborated the first system of psychoanalytic psychology - 1900-1914.

  • Ego psychology, involving a considerable extension and elaboration of the earlier ideas, lasting from 1914 until 1939

Studies in Hysteria (Freud and Breuer, 1895)

  • Studies in Hysteria (Freud and Breuer, 1895)

  • The Aetiology of Hysteria (1896)

  • The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)

  • The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901)

  • Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905)

  • Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916)

  • The Ego and the Id (1923)

Works Cited

  • Explorer of the Unconscious – Margaret Muckenhoupt

  • Philosophy ~ 100 ~ Essential Thinkers– Philip Stokes




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