Dr. Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud, the founder of Psychoanalysis was an Austrian physician and neurologist. He revolutionized the ideas of how the human mind works and established a theory that the unconscious motives controls many of the human behaviour. He applied his ideas in the treatment of mental disorders. This helped millions of people to recover from various mental disorders. Modified forms of his findings are applied today for treatments. He is also regarded as one of the greatest creative minds of all time.

Birth and Early Life.

Freud was born in a middle class Jewish family on May 6,1856 in Freiberg, Moravia now known as Pribor in Czech Republic. His father was a wool merchant. Freud was the oldest of eight children. When he was three years old his family was forced to move to Leipzig due to anti-Semitic riots. After a short stay at Leipzig the family moved to Vienna the capital of Austria to settle there.


Freud’s ambition from childhood was to become a lawyer. The German poet Goethe’s scientific investigations on natural science inspired him. So he decided to join medical school in 1873. In the third year of his university he started research work on central nervous system in the physiological laboratory under German Physician Ernest Wilhelm von Brucke. Due to the interest in research work Freud neglected his prescribed courses and forced to stay three more years longer to qualify as a physician. He also had completed his compulsory military training in this period. He graduated from University of Vienna in 1881. But, not willing to leave his experimental work he remained as a demonstrator in the physiological laboratory.



Freud married Martha Bernays in 1888 to whom he had been engaged four years before their marriage.They had six children. The last child Anna was born in 1895 and it was she who followed his profession to become a famous Psychoanalyst.


In 1883 due to the advice of Brucke he joined General Hospital of Vienna for practical experience. There he devoted himself to psychiatry and nervous disorders. In 1885 he was appointed as a lecturer in neuropathology at the University of Vienna.

In the same year Freud received a government grant to study in Paris under the famous French Neurologist Jean Martin Charcot, who was working with patients who suffered from hysteria. The association with Charcot influenced Freud a lot.

In 1886 Freud returned to Vienna and began to work with hysteria patients. Although in the beginning he used hypnosis for the treatment of hysteria, he later abandoned it in favor of his own technique called free association technique.

Later he came up with new ideas and framed up his theories into a new system called Psychoanalysis. In 1890 he presented his ideas in public. He met with violent opposition from medical profession. However, he attracted a group of followers. Alfred Adler (Austrian Psychiatrist who later founded Individual Psychology), Otto Rank (Austrian Psychologist), Eugen Bleuler (Swiss Psychiatrist), Carl Gustav Jung (Swiss Psychiatrist who later founded Analytical Psychology) were among the earliest followers of Freud. Eventually, he gained international recognition and in 1910 the International Psychoanalytical Association was founded.

Later two of his followers split with Freud and developed their own themes. They were Alfred Adler and Carl Jung. Freud was constantly modified his theories with new findings and published a revised version of many of his earlier theories in 1923.

In the same year he was stricken with cancer in his jaw. Painful treatment and surgeries conducted. With all this agonies and sufferings from his illness he continued his literary activities for a long period of sixteen years.

In 1938 Germans Occupied Austria. As a Jew he had to escape with his family. With the help of his friends he moved to England. He died in Sept.23,1939.


Theories of Freud

Unconscious and Behavior:

Freud observed that on the behavior of patients the unconscious plays a major role in shaping the behavior patterns and they were behaving to the drives and experiences. He also observed that the unconscious is full of memories of events from early childhood and these memories people were kept out of conscious awareness.

Mind and Mental Health:

Based on his studies and clinical experience, Freud divided the mind into three namely: Id, Ego, and Superego. The Id is the unconscious part of the mind, the ego is the conscious part of the mind and the superego is the conscience. In a healthy person all these three will work in harmony.

Treatment Methods:

Initially Freud used hypnosis in the treatment of neurotic patients. Later he found that if the patients were allowed to speak out freely about anything that comes to their mind, they improved a lot. Based on this observation he devised a method called free association and used it and dream analysis to the treatment of neurotic patients.

Major Influences

Freud was one of the most influential thinker in the history. His writings changed many beliefs about human nature and the strongest impact was on psychology and psychiatry. His theories had influence not only on the concept of the nature of human sexuality but also on social relationships. Freud’s contributions went beyond psychoanalysis, into religion, mythology, art and literature. His ideas and techniques stood the test of time. Many of them were refined and modified and are still used in treatment of mental disorders.

Major Works of Freud

The important works are:

The Interpretation of Dreams(1900),

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life(1902)

The Jokes and Their relationship to the Unconscious(1905)

Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality(1905),

Totem and Taboo(1913),

General Introduction to Psychoanalysis(1920),

The Ego and the Id (1923)

and Civilization and its Discontents(1930)

The Moses and Monotheism(1939)