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Sigmund Freud

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Essay title: Sigmund Freud


Sigmund Freud, physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and father of psychoanalysis, is generally recognized as one of the most influential and authoritative thinkers of the twentieth century. Know for his pioneering theories in psychoanalysis. Freud’s is responsible for several theories still used today. The five most well know are, Stages of Development or Psychosexual Development, Theory of Dreams, Id, Ego, Superego, Defense Mechanisms and Anxieties.

He expressed and refined the concepts of the unconscious, of infantile sexuality, of repression, and proposed a tri-partite account of the mind's structure ( id, ego and super ego), all as part of a completely new theoretical and beneficial frame of point for the understanding of human psychological development and the treatment of abnormal mental conditions. Despite the multiple manifestations of psychoanalysis as it exists today, it can in almost all fundamental respects be traced directly back to Freud's original work (American Psychoanalytic Association, 1998). Further, ”Freud's original treatment of human actions, dreams, and indeed of cultural artifacts as always possessing understood symbolic importance has proven to be extraordinarily productive, and has had substantial implications for a wide variety of fields, including anthropology, semiotics, and artistic creativity and appreciation in addition to psychology” (American Psychoanalytic Association, 1998). Nevertheless, Freud's most important and frequently re-iterated claim, that with psychoanalysis he had invented a new science of the mind, remains the subject of much critical dispute and controversy.

Many of Freud’s contributions can be found in crucially important issues. Freud didn't exactly invent the idea of the conscious versus unconscious mind, but he certainly was responsible for making it popular. The conscious mind is what you are aware of at any particular moment, your present perceptions, memories, thoughts, fantasies, feelings and so on. Working closely with the conscious mind is what Freud called the preconscious, what we might today call "available memory:" anything that can easily be made conscious, the memories you are not at the moment thinking about but can readily bring to mind. Now no-one has a problem with these two layers of mind (Edelson, 1986).

The largest part by far is the unconscious. It includes all the things that are not easily available to awareness, including many things that have their origins there, such as 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. According to Freud, the unconscious is the source of our motivations, whether they are simple desires for food or sex, neurotic compulsions, or the motives of an artist or scientist. And yet, we are often driven to deny or resist becoming conscious of these motives, and they are often available to us only in disguised form.

Regardless of the perception of Freud’s theories, there is no question that he had an enormous impact on the field of psychology. His work supported the belief that not all mental illnesses have physiological causes and he also offered evidence that cultural differences have an impact on psychology and behavior. His work and writings contributed to our understanding of personality, clinical psychology, human development, and abnormal psychology.

In order to evaluate the strengths of Freud's theory of psychoanalysis, one must consider a few of the qualities that make a theory of personality or behavior "great." Among the many qualities that people consider to be important are that the theory addresses its problem, can be applied in practical ways, fits with other theories, and withstands the test of time. In addition, a good theory, according to many philosophers of science, is falsifiable, able to be generalized, leads to new theories and ideas, and is recognized by others in the field. Clearly psychoanalysis meets many of these criteria. As noted previously, Freud coined the term "psychoanalysis" in 1856.

Even today, as we are rapidly approaching the twenty-first century, psychoanalysis remains as a convincing option for patients suffering from mental illnesses. The acceptance and popularity of psychoanalysis is apparent through the existence of numerous institutes, organizations, and conferences established around the world with psychoanalysis as their focus (Colby, 1960, p. 55). The theory of

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