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Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt, 1921
Born Sigismund Schlomo Freud
6 May 1856(1856-05-06)
Příbor, Moravia, Austria–Hungary, (now the Czech Republic)
Died 23 September 1939 (aged 83)
London, England, UK
Residence Austria, UK
Nationality Austrian
Ethnicity Ashkenazi Jew
Fields Neurology
Institutions University of Vienna
Alma mater University of Vienna
Known for Psychoanalysis
Influences Arthur Schopenhauer
Friedrich Nietzsche
Jean-Martin Charcot
Josef Breuer
J.P. Jacobsen
Influenced John Bowlby
Viktor Frankl
Anna Freud
Ernest Jones
Carl Jung
Melanie Klein
Jacques Lacan
Fritz Perls
Otto Rank
Wilhelm Reich
Stanley Kubrick
Notable awards Goethe Prize

Sigmund Freud (German pronunciation: [ˈziːkmʊnt ˈfʁɔʏt]), born Sigismund Schlomo Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September, 1939), was a Jewish-Austrian neurologist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry.[1] Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the defense mechanism of repression and for creating the clinical practice of psychoanalysis for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient (technically referred to as an "analysand") and a psychoanalyst. Freud is also renowned for his redefinition of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life, as well as his therapeutic techniques, including the use of free association, his theory of transference in the therapeutic relationship, and the interpretation of dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires. He was also an early neurological researcher into cerebral palsy. Freud was also a prolific essayist, drawing on psychoanalysis to contribute to the history, interpretation and critique of culture.

While some of Freud's ideas have fallen out of favor or have been modified by Neo-Freudians, and modern advances in the field of psychology have shown flaws in some of his theories, Freud's work remains seminal in humans' quest for self-understanding, especially in the history of clinical approaches. In academia, his ideas continue to influence the humanities and social sciences. He is considered one of the most prominent thinkers of the first half of the 20th century, in terms of originality and intellectual influence.


Early life

Freud was born on 6 May 1856, to Jewish Galician[2] parents in the Moravian town of Příbor, Austrian Empire, which is now part of the Czech Republic. Freud was born with a caul, which the family accepted as a positive omen.[3]

His father, Jakob,[4] was 41, a wool merchant, and had two children by a previous marriage. His mother, Amalié (née Nathansohn), the second wife of Jakob, was 21. He was the first of their eight children and, owing to his precocious intellect, his parents favored him over his siblings, from the early stages of his childhood. Despite their poverty, they sacrificed everything to give him a proper education. Due to the economic crisis of 1857, Freud's father lost his business, and the family moved to Leipzig before settling in Vienna.

In 1865, Sigmund entered the Leopoldstädter Kommunal-Realgymnasium, a prominent high school. Freud was an outstanding pupil and graduated the Matura in 1873 with honors.

After planning to study law, Freud joined the medical faculty at University of Vienna to study under Darwinist Prof. Karl Claus.[5] At that time, the eel life cycle was still unknown. In search of their male sex organs, Freud spent four weeks at the Austrian zoological research station in Trieste, dissecting hundreds of eels without finding more than his predecessors had.

Medical school

While Freud was a first-year medical student at the University of Vienna, he was supervised by German physiologist Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke. Freud adopted Brücke's new "dynamic" physiology.

In 1874, the concept of "psychodynamics" was proposed by Brücke, with the publication of Lectures on Physiology. Brücke, in coordination with physicist Hermann von Helmholtz, one of the formulators of the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy), supposed that all living organisms are energy-systems also governed by this principle.

In his Lectures on Physiology, Brücke set forth the radical view that the living organism is a dynamic system to which the laws of chemistry and physics apply.[6]

This was the starting point for Freud's dynamic psychology of the mind and its relation to the unconscious.[6] The origins of Freud’s basic model, based on the fundamentals of chemistry and physics, according to John Bowlby, stems from Brücke, Meynert, Breuer, Helmholtz, and Herbart.[7] In 1876, he published his first paper about "the testicles of eels" in the Mitteilungen der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, conceding that he could not solve the matter.

In 1877, Freud abbreviated his first name from "Sigismund" to "Sigmund."

In 1879, Freud interrupted his studies to complete his one year of obligatory military service, and in 1881 he received his Dr. med. (M.D.) with the thesis Über das Rückenmark niederer Fischarten ("on the spinal cord of lower fish species").

Freud and psychoanalysis

Group photo 1909 in front of Clark University. Front row: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung; back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sandor Ferenczi.
Berggasse 19
Approach to Freud's consulting rooms at Berggasse

In October 1885, Freud went to Paris on a traveling fellowship to study with Europe's most renowned neurologist, Jean Martin Charcot. He was later to remember the experience of this stay as catalytic in turning him toward the practice of medical psychopathology and away from a less financially promising career in research neurology.[8] Charcot specialised in the study of hysteria and its susceptibility to hypnosis, which he frequently demonstrated with patients on stage in front of an audience. Freud later turned away from hypnosis as a potential cure, favouring free association and dream analysis.[9] Charcot himself questioned his own work on hysteria towards the end of his life.[10]

After opening his own medical practice, specializing in neurology, Freud married Martha Bernays in 1886. Her father Berman was the son of Isaac Bernays, chief rabbi in Hamburg.

After experimenting with hypnosis on his neurotic patients, Freud abandoned this form of treatment as it proved ineffective for many, in favor of a treatment where the patient talked through his or her problems. This came to be known as the "talking cure", as the ultimate goal of this talking was to locate and release powerful emotional energy that had initially been rejected, and imprisoned in the unconscious mind. Freud called this denial of emotions "repression", and he believed that it was often damaging to the normal functioning of the psyche, and could also retard physical functioning as well, which he described as "psychosomatic" symptoms. (The term "talking cure" was initially coined by the patient Anna O. who was treated by Freud's colleague Josef Breuer.) The "talking cure" is widely seen as the basis of psychoanalysis.[11]

Carl Jung initiated the rumor that a romantic relationship may have developed between Freud and his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, who had moved into Freud's apartment at 19 Berggasse in 1896.[12] (Psychologist Hans Eysenck has suggested that the affair resulted in a pregnancy and a subsequent abortion for Miss Bernays.[13]) The publication in 2006 of a Swiss hotel log, dated 13 August 1898, has suggested to some Freudian scholars (including Peter Gay) that there was a factual basis to these rumors.[14]

In his 40s, Freud "had numerous psychosomatic disorders as well as exaggerated fears of dying and other phobias" (Corey 2001, p. 67). During this time, Freud was involved in the task of exploring his own dreams, memories, and the dynamics of his personality development. During this self-analysis, he came to realize the hostility he felt towards his father (Jacob Freud), who had died in 1896,[15] and "he also recalled his childhood sexual feelings for his mother (Amalia Freud), who was attractive, warm, and protective" (Corey 2001, p. 67) considers this time of emotional difficulty to be the most creative time in Freud's life.

After the publication of Freud's books in 1900 and 1902, interest in his theories began to grow, and a circle of supporters developed in the following period. However, Freud often clashed with those supporters who critiqued his theories, the most famous being Carl Jung, who had originally supported Freud's ideas. Part of the reason for the fallout between Freud and Jung was the latter's interest and commitment to religion, which Freud saw as unscientific.[16]

Last years and escape from Austria

In 1932, Freud received the Goethe Prize in appreciation of his contribution to psychology and to German literary culture. One year later (on 30 January 1933), the Nazis took control of Germany, and Freud's books were prominent among those burned and destroyed by the Nazis. Freud quipped:

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.[17]

At that time, he could not have foreseen that all of his many sisters would perish in The Holocaust.

In March 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria in the Anschluss. This led to violent outbursts of anti-Semitism in Vienna, and Freud and his family received visits from the Gestapo. Freud decided to go into exile "to die in freedom". In this goal, he was fortuitously assisted by Anton Sauerwald, a Nazi official who was placed in charge of all of Freud's assets in Austria. Sauerwald, however, was not an ordinary Nazi; while "he had made bombs for the Nazi movement, he had also studied medicine, chemistry and law."[18]

At the University of Vienna, Sauerwald had been a student of Professor Josef Herzig, who often visited Freud to play cards. Sauerwald did not disclose to his Nazi superiors that Freud had many secret bank accounts and disobeyed a Nazi directive to have Freud's books on psychoanalysis destroyed.[18] Instead, Sauerwald and an accomplice smuggled them to the Austrian national library, where they were hidden. Finally, dismayed by a Nazi order to transform Freud's home into an institute for the study of Aryan superiority, Sauerwald signed Sigmund Freud's exit visa.[18] In June 1938, Freud left Vienna aboard the Orient Express train and settled in London. While Freud told a local newspaper that "all my money and property in Vienna is gone", he did not mention his secret bank accounts. When Anton Sauerwald went to trial on charges of absconding with Freud’s secret wealth after the war, Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud's daughter, intervened to protect Sauerwald. She disclosed to Harry Freud, a US army officer who had had Sauerwald arrested, that:

"[The] truth is that we really owe our lives and our freedom to ,... [Sauerwald]. Without him we would never have got away."[18]

Sauerwald was then released from U.S. custody.

After arriving in Britain, Freud and his family settled in 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, London. There is a statue of him at the corner of Belsize Lane and Fitzjohn's Avenue, near Swiss Cottage.

A heavy cigar smoker, Freud endured more than 30 operations during his life due to oral cancer. In September 1939, he prevailed on his doctor and friend Max Schur to assist him in suicide.[citation needed] After reading Balzac's La Peau de chagrin in a single sitting, he said, "My dear Schur, you certainly remember our first talk. You promised me then not to forsake me when my time comes. Now it is nothing but torture and makes no sense anymore." Schur administered three doses of morphine over many hours that resulted in Freud's death on 23 September 1939.[19]

Three days after his death, Freud's body was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium in England during a service attended by Austrian refugees, including the author Stefan Zweig. His ashes were later placed in the crematorium's columbarium. They rest in an ancient Greek urn that Freud received as a present from Marie Bonaparte, and which he had kept in his study in Vienna for many years. After Martha Freud's death in 1951, her ashes were also placed in that urn. Golders Green Crematorium has since also become the final resting place for Anna Freud and her lifelong friend Dorothy Burlingham.

Freud's ideas

Freud has been influential in two related but distinct ways: He simultaneously developed a theory of how the human mind is organized and operates internally, and a theory of how human behavior both conditions and results from this particular theoretical understanding. This led him to favor certain clinical techniques for trying to help cure psychopathology. He theorized that personality is developed by the person's childhood experiences.

Early work

Sigmund Freud memorial in Hampstead, North London. Sigmund and Anna Freud lived at 20 Maresfield Gardens, near this statue. Their house is now a museum dedicated to Freud's life and work.[20] The building behind the statue is the Tavistock Clinic, a major psychological health care institution.

Freud began his study of medicine at the University of Vienna. He took eight years to complete his studies, due to his interest in neurophysiological research, specifically investigation of the sexual anatomy of eels and the physiology of the fish nervous system (as noted above). He entered private practice in neurology for financial reasons, receiving his M.D. degree in 1881 at the age of 25.[21] He was also an early researcher in the field of cerebral palsy, which was then known as "cerebral paralysis." He published several medical papers on the topic, and showed that the disease existed well before other researchers of the period began to notice and study it. He also suggested that William Little, the man who first identified cerebral palsy, was wrong about lack of oxygen during the birth process being a cause. Instead, he suggested that complications in birth were only a symptom of the problem.

Freud hoped that his research would provide a solid scientific basis for his therapeutic technique. The goal of Freudian therapy, or psychoanalysis, was to bring repressed thoughts and feelings into consciousness in order to free the patient from the suffering caused by the repetitive return of distorted forms of these thoughts and feelings.

Classically, the bringing of unconscious thoughts and feelings to consciousness is brought about by encouraging the patient to talk in free association and to talk about dreams. Another important element of psychoanalysis is a relative lack of direct involvement on the part of the analyst, which is meant to encourage the patient to project thoughts and feelings onto the analyst. Through this process, transference, the patient can reenact and resolve repressed conflicts, especially childhood conflicts with (or about) parents.[22]

The origin of Freud's early work with psychoanalysis can be linked to Joseph Breuer. Freud credited Breuer with the discovery of the psychoanalytical method. One case started this phenomenon that would shape the field of psychology for decades to come, the case of Anna O. In 1880, a young woman came to Breuer with symptoms of what was then called female hysteria. Anna O. was a highly intelligent 21-year-old woman. She presented with symptoms such as paralysis of the limbs, dissociation, and amnesia; today this set of symptoms are known as conversion disorder. After many doctors had given up and accused Anna O. of faking her symptoms, Breuer decided to treat her sympathetically, which he did with all of his patients. He started to hear her mumble words during what he called states of absence. Eventually Breuer started to recognize some of the words and wrote them down. He then hypnotized her and repeated the words to her; Breuer found out that the words were associated with her father's illness and death.[23]

In the early 1890s Freud used a form of treatment based on the one that Breuer had described to him, modified by what he called his "pressure technique" and his newly-developed analytic technique of interpretation and reconstruction. According to the traditional story, based on Freud's later accounts of this period, as a result of his use of this procedure most of his patients in the mid-1890s reported early childhood sexual abuse. He believed these stories, but then came to believe that they were fantasies. He explained these at first as having the function of "fending off" memories of infantile masturbation, but in later years he wrote that they represented Oedipal wishful fantasies.[24]

A different version of events starts with Freud's first positing that unconscious memories of infantile sexual abuse were at the root of the psychoneuroses in letters to Wilhelm Fliess in October 1895 before he reported that he had actually discovered such abuse among his patients.[25] In the first half of 1896 Freud published three papers stating that he had uncovered, in all of his current patients, deeply repressed memories of sexual abuse in early childhood.[26] In these papers Freud recorded that with his patients the imputed memories were not conscious, and that on his theory they must be present as unconscious memories if they were to result in hysterical symptoms or obsessional neurosis. The patients were subjected to considerable pressure to "reproduce" infantile sexual abuse "scenes" that Freud was convinced had been repressed into the unconscious.[27] However they generally were unconvinced that what they experienced under the influence of his clinical procedures indicated that they had actually been subjected to early childhood sexual abuse: he reported that even after the supposed "reproduction" of sexual scenes the patients assured him emphatically of their disbelief.[28]

As well as his "pressure technique", Freud's clinical procedures involved analytic inference and the symbolic interpretation of symptoms to "trace back" to infantile sexual abuse "scenes".[29] His claim of one hundred percent confirmation of his theory only served to reinforce previously expressed reservations from his colleagues about the validity of findings obtained by means of the suggestive techniques he was using.[30]


As a medical researcher, Freud was an early user and proponent of cocaine as a stimulant as well as analgesic. He wrote several articles on the antidepressant qualities of the drug and he was influenced by his friend and confidant Wilhelm Fliess, who recommended cocaine for the treatment of the "nasal reflex neurosis". Fliess operated on Freud and a number of Freud's patients' noses whom he believed to be suffering from the disorder, including Emma Eckstein, whose surgery proved disastrous.[31]

Freud felt that cocaine would work as a panacea for many disorders and wrote a well-received paper, "On Coca", explaining its virtues. He prescribed it to his friend Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow to help him overcome a morphine addiction he had acquired while treating a disease of the nervous system.[32] Freud also recommended it to many of his close family and friends. He narrowly missed out on obtaining scientific priority for discovering cocaine's anesthetic properties (of which Freud was aware but on which he had not written extensively), after Karl Koller, a colleague of Freud's in Vienna, presented a report to a medical society in 1884 outlining the ways cocaine could be used for delicate eye surgery. Freud was bruised by this, especially because this would turn out to be one of the few safe uses of cocaine, as reports of addiction and overdose began to filter in from many places in the world. Freud's medical reputation became somewhat tarnished because of this early ambition. Furthermore, Freud's friend Fleischl-Marxow developed an acute case of "cocaine psychosis" as a result of Freud's prescriptions and died a few years later. Freud felt great regret over these events, which later biographers have dubbed "The Cocaine Incident".[citation needed] However, he managed to move on, and some speculate that he even continued to use cocaine after this event. Some critics have suggested that most of Freud's psychoanalytical theory was a byproduct of his cocaine use.[33]

The Unconscious

Perhaps the most significant contribution Freud made to Western thought were his arguments concerning the importance of the unconscious mind in understanding conscious thought and behavior. However, as psychologist Jacques Van Rillaer pointed out, "contrary to what most people believe, the unconscious was not discovered by Freud. In 1890, when psychoanalysis was still unheard of, William James, in Principles of Psychology his monumental treatise on psychology, examined the way Schopenhauer, von Hartmann, Janet, Binet and others had used the term 'unconscious' and 'subconscious'".[34] Boris Sidis, a Russian Jew who emigrated to the United States of America in 1887, and studied under William James, wrote The Psychology of Suggestion: A Research into the Subconscious Nature of Man and Society in 1898, followed by ten or more works over the next twenty five years on similar topics to the works of Freud. Historian of psychology Mark Altschule concluded, "It is difficult—or perhaps impossible—to find a nineteenth-century psychologist or psychiatrist who did not recognize unconscious cerebration as not only real but of the highest importance."[35] Freud's advance was not to uncover the unconscious but to devise a method for systematically studying it.

Freud called dreams the "royal road to the unconscious". This meant that dreams illustrate the "logic" of the unconscious mind. Freud developed his first topology of the psyche in The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) in which he proposed that the unconscious exists and described a method for gaining access to it. The preconscious was described as a layer between conscious and unconscious thought; its contents could be accessed with a little effort.

One key factor in the operation of the unconscious is "repression". Freud believed that many people "repress" painful memories deep into their unconscious mind. Although Freud later attempted to find patterns of repression among his patients in order to derive a general model of the mind, he also observed that repression varies among individual patients. Freud also argued that the act of repression did not take place within a person's consciousness. Thus, people are unaware of the fact that they have buried memories or traumatic experiences.

Later, Freud distinguished between three concepts of the unconscious: the descriptive unconscious, the dynamic unconscious, and the system unconscious. The descriptive unconscious referred to all those features of mental life of which people are not subjectively aware. The dynamic unconscious, a more specific construct, referred to mental processes and contents that are defensively removed from consciousness as a result of conflicting attitudes. The system unconscious denoted the idea that when mental processes are repressed, they become organized by principles different from those of the conscious mind, such as condensation and displacement.

Eventually, Freud abandoned the idea of the system unconscious, replacing it with the concept of the ego, super-ego, and id. Throughout his career, however, he retained the descriptive and dynamic conceptions of the unconscious.

Psychosexual development

Freud hoped to prove that his model was universally valid and thus turned to ancient mythology and contemporary ethnography for comparative material. Freud named his new theory the Oedipus complex after the famous Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. "I found in myself a constant love for my mother, and jealousy of my father. I now consider this to be a universal event in childhood," Freud said. Freud sought to anchor this pattern of development in the dynamics of the mind. Each stage is a progression into adult sexual maturity, characterized by a strong ego and the ability to delay gratification (cf. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality). He used the Oedipus conflict to point out how much he believed that people desire incest and must repress that desire. The Oedipus conflict was described as a state of psychosexual development and awareness. He also turned to anthropological studies of totemism and argued that totemism reflected a ritualized enactment of a tribal Oedipal conflict.

Freud originally posited childhood sexual abuse as a general explanation for the origin of neuroses, but he abandoned this so-called "seduction theory" as insufficiently explanatory. He noted finding many cases in which apparent memories of childhood sexual abuse were based more on imagination than on real events. During the late 1890s Freud, who never abandoned his belief in the sexual etiology of neuroses, began to emphasize fantasies built around the Oedipus complex as the primary cause of hysteria and other neurotic symptoms. Despite this change in his explanatory model, Freud always recognized that some neurotics had in fact been sexually abused by their fathers. He explicitly discussed several patients whom he knew to have been abused.[36]

Freud also believed that the libido developed in individuals by changing its object, a process codified by the concept of sublimation. He argued that humans are born "polymorphously perverse", meaning that any number of objects could be a source of pleasure. He further argued that, as humans develop, they become fixated on different and specific objects through their stages of development—first in the oral stage (exemplified by an infant's pleasure in nursing), then in the anal stage (exemplified by a toddler's pleasure in evacuating his or her bowels), then in the phallic stage. Freud argued that children then passed through a stage in which they fixated on the mother as a sexual object (known as the Oedipus Complex) but that the child eventually overcame and repressed this desire because of its taboo nature. (The term 'Electra complex' is sometimes used to refer to such a fixation on the father, although Freud did not advocate its use.) The repressive or dormant latency stage of psychosexual development preceded the sexually mature genital stage of psychosexual development.

Freud's views have sometimes been called phallocentric. This is because, for Freud, the unconscious desires the phallus (penis). Males are afraid of losing their masculinity, symbolized by the phallus, to another male. Females always desire to have a phallus—an unfulfillable desire. Thus boys resent their fathers (fear of castration) and girls desire theirs.

Id, ego, and super-ego

In his later work, Freud proposed that the human psyche could be divided into three parts: ego, super-ego, and id. Freud discussed this model in the 1920 essay Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and fully elaborated upon it in The Ego and the Id (1923), in which he developed it as an alternative to his previous topographic schema (i.e., conscious, unconscious, and preconscious). The id is the impulsive, child-like portion of the psyche that operates on the "pleasure principle" and only takes into account what it wants and disregards all consequences.

The term ego entered the English language in the late 18th century; Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790) described the game of chess as a way to "...keep the mind fit and the ego in check". Freud acknowledged that his use of the term Id (das Es, "the It") derives from the writings of Georg Groddeck. The term Id appears in the earliest writing of Boris Sidis, in which it is attributed to William James, as early as 1898.

The super-ego is the moral component of the psyche, which takes into account no special circumstances in which the morally right thing may not be right for a given situation. The rational ego attempts to exact a balance between the impractical hedonism of the id and the equally impractical moralism of the super-ego; it is the part of the psyche that is usually reflected most directly in a person's actions. When overburdened or threatened by its tasks, it may employ defense mechanisms including denial, repression, and displacement. The theory of ego defense mechanisms has received empirical validation,[37] and the nature of repression, in particular, became one of the more fiercely debated areas of psychology in the 1990s.[38]

The life and death drives

Freud believed that humans were driven by two conflicting central desires: the life drive (libido/Eros) (survival, propagation, hunger, thirst, and sex) and the death drive (Thanatos).[39] Freud's description of Cathexis, whose energy is known as libido, included all creative, life-producing drives. The death drive (or death instinct), whose energy is known as anticathexis, represented an urge inherent in all living things to return to a state of calm: in other words, an inorganic or dead state.

Freud recognized the death drive only in his later years and developed his theory of it in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Freud approached the paradox between the life drives and the death drives by defining pleasure and unpleasure. According to Freud, unpleasure refers to stimulus that the body receives. (For example, excessive friction on the skin's surface produces a burning sensation; or, the bombardment of visual stimuli amidst rush hour traffic produces anxiety.)

Conversely, pleasure is a result of a decrease in stimuli (for example, a calm environment the body enters after having been subjected to a hectic environment). If pleasure increases as stimuli decreases, then the ultimate experience of pleasure for Freud would be zero stimulus, or death.[citation needed]

Given this proposition, Freud acknowledged the tendency for the unconscious to repeat unpleasurable experiences in order to desensitize, or deaden, the body. This compulsion to repeat unpleasurable experiences explains why traumatic nightmares occur in dreams, as nightmares seem to contradict Freud's earlier conception of dreams purely as a site of pleasure, fantasy, and desire. On the one hand, the life drives promote survival by avoiding extreme unpleasure and any threat to life. On the other hand, the death drive functions simultaneously toward extreme pleasure, which leads to death. Freud addressed the conceptual dualities of pleasure and unpleasure, as well as sex/life and death, in his discussions on masochism and sadomasochism. The tension between life drive and death drive represented a revolution in his manner of thinking.

These ideas resemble aspects of the philosophies of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. Schopenhauer's pessimistic philosophy, expounded in The World as Will and Representation, describes a renunciation of the will to live that corresponds on many levels with Freud's Death Drive. Similarly, the life drive clearly parallels much of Nietzsche's concept of the Dionysian in The Birth of Tragedy. However, Freud denied having been acquainted with their writings before he formulated the groundwork of his own ideas.[40]

Freud's legacy


Freud's theories and research methods have always been controversial. He and psychoanalysis have been criticized in very extreme terms.[41] For an often-quoted example, Peter Medawar, a Nobel Prize winning immunolgist, said in 1975 that psychoanalysis is the "most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the twentieth century".[41] However, Freud has had a tremendous impact on psychotherapy. Many psychotherapists follow Freud's approach to an extent, even if they reject his theories.

One influential post-Freudian psychotherapy has been the primal therapy of the American psychologist Arthur Janov.[42][43][44]

Freud's contributions to psychotherapy have been extensively criticized and defended by many scholars and historians.

Critics include H. J. Eysenck, who wrote that Freud 'set psychiatry back one hundred years', consistently mis-diagnosed his patients, fraudulently misrepresented case histories and that "what is true in Freud is not new and what is new in Freud is not true".[45]

Betty Friedan also criticised Freud and his Victorian slant on women in her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique.[46] Freud's concept of penis envy—and his definition of female as a negative[47]—was attacked by Kate Millett, whose 1970 book Sexual Politics explained confusion and oversights in his work.[48] Naomi Weisstein wrote that Freud and his followers erroneously thought that his "years of intensive clinical experience" added up to scientific rigor.[49]

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen wrote in a review of Han Israëls's book Der Fall Freud published in The London Review of Books that, "The truth is that Freud knew from the very start that Fleischl, Anna O. and his 18 patients were not cured, and yet he did not hesitate to build grand theories on these non-existent foundations...he disguised fragments of his self-analysis as ‘objective’ cases, that he concealed his sources, that he conveniently antedated some of his analyses, that he sometimes attributed to his patients ‘free associations’ that he himself made up, that he inflated his therapeutic successes, that he slandered his opponents."[50]

Jacques Lacan saw attempts to locate pathology in, and then to cure, the individual as more characteristic of American ego psychology than of proper psychoanalysis. For Lacan, psychoanalysis involved "self-discovery" and even social criticism, and it succeeded insofar as it provided emancipatory self-awareness.[51]

David Stafford-Clark summed up criticism of Freud: "Psychoanalysis was and will always be Freud's original creation. Its discovery, exploration, investigation, and constant revision formed his life's work. It is manifest injustice, as well as wantonly insulting, to commend psychoanalysis, still less to invoke it 'without too much of Freud'."[52] It's like supporting the theory of evolution 'without too much of Darwin'. If psychoanalysis is to be treated seriously at all, one must take into account, both seriously and with equal objectivity, the original theories of Sigmund Freud.

Ethan Watters and Richard Ofshe wrote, "The story of Freud and the creation of psychodynamic therapy, as told by its adherents, is a self-serving myth".[53]


Freud did not consider himself a philosopher, although he greatly admired Franz Brentano, known for his theory of perception, as well as Theodor Lipps, who was one of the main supporters of the ideas of the unconscious and empathy.[54] In his 1932 lecture on psychoanalysis as "a philosophy of life" Freud commented on the distinction between science and philosophy:

Philosophy is not opposed to science, it behaves itself as if it were a science, and to a certain extent it makes use of the same methods; but it parts company with science, in that it clings to the illusion that it can produce a complete and coherent picture of the universe, though in fact that picture must needs fall to pieces with every new advance in our knowledge. Its methodological error lies in the fact that it over-estimates the epistemological value of our logical operations, and to a certain extent admits the validity of other sources of knowledge, such as intuition.[55]

Freud's model of the mind is often considered a challenge to the enlightenment model of rational agency, which was a key element of much modern philosophy. Freud's theories have had a tremendous effect on the Frankfurt school and critical theory. Following the "return to Freud" of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, Freud had an incisive influence on some French philosophers.

Freud once openly admitted to avoiding the work of Nietzsche, "whose guesses and intuitions often agree in the most astonishing way with the laborious findings of psychoanalysis" [56]. Nietzsche, however, vociferously rejected the conjecture of so-called 'scientific' men, and despite also 'diagnosing' the death of a father-God, chose instead to embrace the animal desires (or 'Dionysian energies') the humanist Freud sought to reject through positivism.


Austrian-British philosopher Karl Popper argued that Freud's psychoanalytic theories were presented in untestable form.[57] Psychology departments in American universities today are scientifically oriented, and Freudian theory has been marginalized, being regarded instead as a "desiccated and dead" historical artifact, according to a recent APA study.[58] Recently, however, researchers in the emerging field of neuro-psychoanalysis have argued for Freud's theories, pointing out brain structures relating to Freudian concepts such as libido, drives, the unconscious, and repression.[59][60]Founded by South African neuroscientist Mark Solms,[61] neuro-psychoanalysis has received contributions from researchers including Oliver Sacks,[62] Jaak Panksepp,[63] Douglas Watt, António Damásio,[64] Eric Kandel, and Joseph E. LeDoux.[65] Still other clinical researchers have recently found empirical support for more specific hypotheses of Freud such as that of the "repetition compulsion" in relation to psychological trauma.[66]


Freud's couch used during psychoanalytic sessions

Freud used pseudonyms in his case histories. Many of the people identified only by pseudonyms were traced to their true identities by Peter Swales. Some patients known by pseudonyms were Anna O. (Bertha Pappenheim, 1859–1936); Cäcilie M. (Anna von Lieben); Dora (Ida Bauer, 1882–1945); Frau Emmy von N. (Fanny Moser); Fräulein Elisabeth von R. (Ilona Weiss);[67] Fräulein Katharina (Aurelia Kronich); Fräulein Lucy R.; Little Hans (Herbert Graf, 1903–1973); Rat Man (Ernst Lanzer, 1878–1914); and Wolf Man (Sergei Pankejeff, 1887–1979). Other famous patients included H.D. (1886–1961); Emma Eckstein (1865–1924); Gustav Mahler (1860–1911), with whom Freud had only a single, extended consultation; and Princess Marie Bonaparte.

People on whom psychoanalytic observations were published, but who were not patients, included Daniel Paul Schreber (1842–1911); Giordano Bruno, Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), on whom Freud co-authored an analysis with primary writer William Bullitt; Michelangelo, whom Freud analyzed in his essay, "The Moses of Michelangelo"; Leonardo da Vinci, analyzed in Freud's book, Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood; Moses, in Freud's book, Moses and Monotheism; and Josef Popper-Lynkeus, in Freud's paper, "Josef Popper-Lynkeus and the Theory of Dreams".


Alfred Adler

Freud spent most of his life in Vienna, where was formed around him a brilliant group of followers who believed that his ideas could do for the treatment of neurotic patients, more than any other method. These people spread their ideas throughout Europe and America. Some of them subsequently withdrew from the original psychoanalytic society and founded their own schools. The most famous of these are Alfred Adler and Carl Jung.

Around 1910, Alfred Adler began to pay attention to some of the conscious personality factors and gradually deviated from the basic Freud’s ideas, namely, the perceptions of the importance of infant hunger for life and the driving force of the unconscious cruelty. After some time, Adler himself realized that his thoughts are farther away from Freud's psychoanalysis, and then he called his system “individual psychology".

Carl Jung

The early books of Carl Jung, in particular relating to the psychology of schizophrenia and to tests on verbal associations, are highly valued by psychiatrists. But in 1912 he published a book about the psychology of unconscious, from which it became clear that his thoughts were taking a direction quite different from the status of the ideas of psychoanalysis. To differentiate his system of psychoanalysis, he called it "analytical psychology". Over time, his idea increasingly moved away from Freud's ideas, and he began to vigorously promote the idea of the mystical East, which have nothing in common with scientific psychology as we understand it in the Western world.

Another Freud’s follower was Karen Horney, one of whose primary contributions was to introduce a new method of psychoanalysis—introspection. Dr. Horney believed that in some cases, the patient is able to continue the analysis without the supervision of the doctor, if he has already mastered the technique. She claimed that some people can achieve a clear understanding of their unconscious stress without the supervision of experienced analysts.

Modern academics such as Timothy Dobson, are using Freudian psychoanalytic ideas to help understand false memory, particularly with reference to eye witness accounts of crime scenes. The theory being that stressful events such as witnessing a crime scene may hinder our abilities to remember accounts accurately.


As of 1 January 2010, the works of Sigmund Freud passed into Public Domain, according to the Life+70 law of copyright.

Major works by Freud



  • Helen Walker Puner, Freud: His Life and His Mind (1947)
  • Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, 3 vols. (1953–1958)
  • Henri Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious (1970)
  • Frank Sulloway, Freud: Biologist of the Mind (1979)
  • Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory, Ballantine Books (November 2003), ISBN 0-345-45279-8
  • Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1988)
  • Louis Breger, Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision (New York: Wiley, 2000), ISBN 978-0471078586
  • Philip Rieff, Freud: The Mind of the Moralist (Victor Gollancz,1960)
  • Richard Wollheim, Freud (Fontana, 1971)
  • Alfred I. Tauber,Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2010.

Further Reading

  • Jacques Derrida & Elisabeth Roudinesco, For What Tomorrow..., Palo Alto, Stanford University Press, 2004.
  • Elisabeth Roudinesco, Why Psychoanalysis?, New York, Columbia University Press, 2003.
  • Eli Zaretsky, Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis, New York, Vintage, 2005.

Media representation

See also


  1. ^ Rice, Emanuel (1990). Freud and Moses: The Long Journey Home. SUNY Press. pp. 9, 18, 34. ISBN 0791404536. 
  2. ^ Gresser, Moshe (1994). Dual Allegiance: Freud As a Modern Jew. SUNY Press. pp. 225. ISBN 0791418111. 
  3. ^ D.P. Morgalis, Freud and his Mother
  4. ^ Hergenhahn BR (2005). An introduction to the history of psychology. Belmont, CA, USA: Thomson Wadsworth. pp. 475. 
  5. ^ Hothersall, D. 1995. History of Psychology, 3rd ed., Mcgraw-Hill:NY
  6. ^ a b Hall, Calvin, S. (1954). A Primer in Freudian Psychology. Meridian Book. ISBN 0452011833. 
  7. ^ Bowlby, John (1999). Attachment and Loss: Vol I, 2nd Ed.. Basic Books. pp. 13–23. ISBN 0-465-00543-8. 
  8. ^ Joseph Aguayo Charcot and Freud: Some Implications of Late 19th Century French Psychiatry and Politics for the Origins of Psychoanalysis (1986). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 9:223-260
  9. ^ Kennard, Jerry (12 February 2008). Freud 101: Psychoanalysis
  10. ^ Freudfile Sigmund Freud Life and Work - Jean-Martin Charcot
  11. ^ Gay, Peter (1988). Freud: A Life for Our Time. pp. 65–66. 
  12. ^ Gay, Peter (1988). Freud: A Life for Our Time. pp. 76. 
  13. ^ Hans Jurgen Eysenck. Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire. Transaction Publishers. 2004, p146
  14. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (24 December 2006). "Hotel log hints at desire that Freud didn't repress". International Herald Tribune. 
  15. ^ "The Life of Sigmund Freud". WGBH Educational Foundation. 2004. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  16. ^ Gay, Peter (1999-03-29). "The TIME 100: Sigmund Freud". Time Inc.. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  17. ^ Freud, Sigmund, quote: What progress...
  18. ^ a b c d Woods, Richard (2009-12-27). "Sigmund Freud saved by Nazi admirer". The Sunday Times. 
  19. ^ Gay, Peter (1988). Freud: A Life for Our Time. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 
  20. ^ Freud Museum London at
  21. ^ THE HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY PGY II Lecture 9/18/03 Larry Merkel M.D., Ph.D.
  22. ^ Freud, S. (1940). An Outline of Psychoanalysis. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XXIII.
  23. ^ Cranefield, Paul F. "Breuer, Josef". In Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie, vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970
  24. ^ Freud, Standard Edition, vol. 7, 1906, p. 274; S.E. 14, 1914, p. 18; S.E. 20, 1925, p. 34; S.E. 22, 1933, p. 120; Schimek, J.G. (1987), Fact and Fantasy in the Seduction Theory: a Historical Review. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, xxxv: 937-965; Esterson, A. (1998), Jeffrey Masson and Freud’s seduction theory: a new fable based on old myths. History of the Human Sciences, 11 (1), pp. 1-21.
  25. ^ Masson (ed), 1985, pp. 141, 144. Esterson, A. (1998), Jeffrey Masson and Freud’s seduction theory: a new fable based on old myths. History of the Human Sciences, 11 (1), pp. 1-21.
  26. ^ Freud, S.E. 3, (1896a), (1896b), (1896c); Israëls, H. & Schatzman, M. (1993), The Seduction Theory. History of Psychiatry, iv: 23-59; Esterson, A. (1998).
  27. ^ Freud, S. (1896c). The Aetiology of Hysteria. Standard Edition, Vol. 3, p. 204; Schimek, J. G. (1987). Fact and Fantasy in the Seduction Theory: a Historical Review. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, xxxv: 937-65; Toews, J.E. (1991). Historicizing Psychoanalysis: Freud in His Time and for Our Time, Journal of Modern History, vol. 63 (pp. 504-545), p. 510, n.12; McNally, R.J. (2003), Remembering Trauma, Harvard University Press, pp. 159-169.
  28. ^ Freud, S.E. 3, 1896c, pp. 204, 211; Schimek, J. G. (1987); Esterson, A. (1998); Eissler, 2001, p. 114-115; McNally, R.J. (2003).
  29. ^ Freud, S.E. 3, 1896c, pp. 191-193; Cioffi, F. (1998 [1973]). Was Freud a liar? Freud and the Question of Pseudoscience. Chicago: Open Court, pp. 199-204; Schimek, J. G. (1987); Esterson, A. (1998); McNally, (2003), pp, 159-169.
  30. ^ Borch-Jacobsen, M. (1996), Neurotica: Freud and the seduction theory. October, vol. 76, Spring 1996, MIT, pp. 15-43; Hergenhahn, B.R. (1997), An Introduction to the History of Psychology, Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, pp. 484-485; Esterson, A. (2002). The myth of Freud’s ostracism by the medical community in 1896-1905: Jeffrey Masson’s assault on truth. History of Psychology, 5(2), pp. 115-134
  31. ^ Masson, Jeffrey Moussaieff, The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory, pp. 233-250
  32. ^ See Borch-Jacobsen (2001)
  33. ^ Scheidt, Jürgen vom (1973). "Sigmund Freud and cocaine". Psyche: 385–430. 
  34. ^ William James, The Principles of Psychology, 2 vols. (Henry Holt & Co, 1890) Dover Publications 1950, vol. 1: ISBN 0-486-20381-6, vol. 2: ISBN 0-486-20382-4
  35. ^ Altschule, M (1977). Origins of Concepts in Human Behavior. New York: Wiley. pp. 199. ]
  36. ^ Freud: A Life for Our Time. pp. 95. 
  37. ^ Barlow DH, Durand VM (2005). Abnormal psychology: an integrative approach (5th ed.). Belmont, CA, USA: Thomson Wadsworth. pp. 18–21. 
  38. ^ Robinson-Riegler G, Robinson-Riegler B (2008). Cognitive psychology: Applying the science of the mind (2nd ed.). Boston, MA, USA: Pearson Education. pp. 278–284. 
  39. ^ Freud did not use the term "Thanatos" himself, instead calling it the "death drive"” (German: Todestrieb, from German: Todes + German: Trieb 'drive'); the term "Thanatos" was introduced in this context by Paul Federn – see Civilization and its discontents, Freud, translator James Strachey, 2005 edition, p. 18
  40. ^ Zilborg, Beyond the Pleasure Principle. pp. xxvii. 
  41. ^ a b Brunner, José (2001). Freud and the politics of psychoanalysis. Transaction. p. xxi. ISBN 076580672X. 
  42. ^ Kovel, Joel (1991). A Complete Guide to Therapy: From Psychoanalysis to Behaviour Modification. pp. 188–198. 
  43. ^ Rosen, R. D. (1977). Psychobabble: Fast Talk and Quick Cure in the Era of Feeling. pp. 154–217. 
  44. ^ Pendergrast, Mark (1995). Victims of Memory: Incest Accusations and Shattered Lives. pp. 442–443. 
  45. ^ Eysenck, Hans, Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire (Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1986)
  46. ^ Friedan, Betty (1963). The Feminine Mystique. W.W. Norton. pp. 166–194. ISBN 0-393-32257-2. 
  47. ^ Millett, Kate, 1970 (2000). Sexual Politics. University of Chicago Press. pp. 179–180. 
  48. ^ Millett, Kate, 1970 (2000). Sexual Politics. University of Chicago Press. pp. 176–203. 
  49. ^ Weisstein, Naomi in Miriam Schneir (ed.) (1994). Feminism in Our Time. Vintage. p. 219–220. ISBN 0-679-74508-4. 
  50. ^ How Fabrications Differ from a Lie
  51. ^ Ashley D, Orenstein DM (2005). Sociological theory: Classical statements (6th ed.). Boston, MA, USA: Pearson Education. pp. 312. 
  52. ^ Stafford-Clark, David (1965). What Freud Really Said. Pelican books. pp. 19. ISBN 0140208771. 
  53. ^ Watters, Ethan and Ofshe, Richard (1999). Therapy's Delusions. Scribner. p. 70. ISBN 0-684-83584-3. 
  54. ^ Pigman, G.W. (April 1995). "Freud and the history of empathy". The International journal of psycho-analysis 76 (Pt 2): 237–56. 
  55. ^ Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis (1933)
  56. ^ Freud, Sigmund (1924). Autobiography. W.W.Norton and Company. 
  57. ^ Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, London: Routledge and Keagan Paul, 1963, pp. 33-39; from Theodore Schick, ed., Readings in the Philosophy of Science, Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 2000, pp. 9-13. [1]
  58. ^ June 2008 study by the American Psychoanalytic Association, as reported in the New York Times, "Freud Is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department" by Patricia Cohen, 25 November 2007. "[Chair of the psychology department at Northwestern University Dr. Alice] Eagly said...that while most disciplines in psychology began putting greater emphasis on testing the validity of their approaches scientifically, 'psychoanalysts haven’t developed the same evidence-based grounding.' As a result, most psychology departments don’t pay as much attention to psychoanalysis."
  59. ^ Lambert AJ, Good KS, Kirk IJ (2009).Testing the repression hypothesis: Effects of emotional valence on memory suppression in the think - No think task. Conscious Cognition, Oct 3,2009 [Epub ahead of print]
  60. ^ Depue BE, Curran T, Banich MT (2007). Prefrontal regions orchestrate suppression of emotional memories via a two-phase process. Science, 317(5835):215-9.
  61. ^ Kaplan-Solms, K., & Solms, M. (2000). Clinical studies in neuro-psychoanalysis: Introduction to a depth neuropsychology. London: Karnac Books.; Solms, M., & Turnbull, O. (2002). The brain and the inner world: An introduction to the neuroscience of subjective experience. New York: Other Press
  62. ^ Sacks, O. (1984). A leg to stand on. New York: Summit Books/Simon and Schuster.
  63. ^ Panksepp, J. (1998). Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  64. ^ Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, 1994; The Somatic marker hypothesis and the possible functions of the prefrontal cortex, 1996; The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, 1999; Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, 2003
  65. ^ The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life, 1996, Simon & Schuster, 1998 Touchstone edition: ISBN 0-684-83659-9
  66. ^ Schechter DS, Gross A, Willheim E, McCaw J, Turner JB, Myers MM, Zeanah CH, Gleason MM. Trauma Stress (2009). Is maternal PTSD associated with greater exposure of very young children to violent media? Journal of Traumatic Stress,22(6), 658-662.
  67. ^ Appignanesi & Forrester (1992). Freud's Women. pp. 108. 

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Patrick Hastings
Cover of Time Magazine
27 October 1924
Succeeded by
Thomas Lipton


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Sigmund Freud article)

From Wikiquote

Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.

Sigmund Freud (6 May 1856 - 23 September 1939) [ˈziːgmʊnt ˈfrɔʏ̯t] was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. He was the grandfather of Sir Clement Freud and Lucian Freud.



Thinking is an experimental dealing with small quantities of energy, just as a general moves miniature figures over a map before setting his troops in action.
  • Woe to you, my Princess, when I come... you shall see who is the stronger, a gentle girl who doesn't eat enough or a big wild man who has cocaine in his body.
    • Letter to his fiancée, Martha Bernays (2 June 1884)
  • I do not doubt that it would be easier for fate to take away your suffering than it would for me. But you will see for yourself that much has been gained if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into common unhappiness.
    • Studies in Hysteria (1895)
      • Recited from: Sigmund Freud, Josef Breuer, Nicola Luckhurst, Rachel Bowlby (2004). Studies in Hysteria. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0142437492.  
  • Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.
    • Origins of Psychoanalysis Letter to Wilhelm Fliess (October 15, 1897)
  • I do not in the least underestimate bisexuality. . . I expect it to provide all further enlightenment.
  • And now, the main thing! As far as I can see, my next work will be called "Human Bisexuality." It will go to the root of the problem and say the last word it may be granted to say — the last and the most profound.
The ego is not master in its own house.
  • No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human beast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.
    • Complete Psychological Works, Dora (1905)
  • Conscience is the internal perception of the rejection of a particular wish operating within us.
    • Complete Psychological Works, Totem and Taboo (1905)
  • At bottom God is nothing more than an exalted father.
    • Complete Psychological Works, Totem and Taboo (1905)
  • He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.
    • The First Dream Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905)
  • The psychic development of the individual is a short repetition of the course of development of the race.
    • Leonardo da Vinci (1916)
  • The ego is not master in its own house.
    • A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis (1917)
  • The unconscious is the larger circle which includes within itself the smaller circle of the conscious; everything conscious has its preliminary step in the unconscious, whereas the unconscious may stop with this step and still claim full value as a psychic activity. Properly speaking, the unconscious is the real psychic; its inner nature is just as unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is just as imperfectly reported to us through the data of consciousness as is the external world through the indications of our sensory organs.
    • Dream Psychology : Psychoanalysis For Beginners (1920) as translated by M. D. Eder
  • When the wayfarer whistles in the dark, he may be disavowing his timidity, but he does not see any more clearly for doing so.
    • The Problem of Anxiety (1925)
  • The poets and philosophers before me discovered the unconscious; what I discovered was the scientific method by which the unconscious can be studied.
    • On his seventieth birthday (1926); from Lionel Trilling's The Liberal Imagination
  • Our knowledge of the historical worth of certain religious doctrines increases our respect for them, but does not invalidate our proposal that they should cease to be put forward as the reasons for the precepts of civilization. On the contrary! Those historical residues have helped us to view religious teachings, as it were, as neurotic relics, and we may now argue that the time has probably come, as it does in an analytic treatment, for replacing the effects of repression by the results of the rational operation of the intellect.
  • The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing. Ultimately, after endlessly repeated rebuffs, it succeeds. This is one of the few points in which it may be optimistic about the future of mankind, but in itself it signifies not a little.
    • The Future of an Illusion (1928)
  • One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be “happy” is not included in the plan of “Creation.”
    • Civilization and Its Discontents, ch. 2 (1930)
  • Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness.
    • Letter to an American mother's plea to cure her son's homosexuality (1935)
  • A man's heterosexuality will not put up with any homosexuality, and vice versa.
    • "Analysis Terminable and Interminable" (1937)
  • The Mosaic religion had been a Father religion; Christianity became a Son religion. The old God, the Father, took second place; Christ, the Son, stood in His stead, just as in those dark times every son had longed to do.
  • Man found that he was faced with the acceptance of "spiritual" forces, that is to say such forces as cannot be comprehended by the senses, particularly not by sight, and yet having undoubted, even extremely strong, effects. If we may trust to language, it was the movement of the air that provided the image of spirituality, since the spirit borrows its name from the breath of wind (animus, spiritus, Hebrew: ruach = smoke). The idea of the soul was thus born as the spiritual principle in the individual ... Now the realm of spirits had opened for man, and he was ready to endow everything in nature with the soul he had discovered in himself.
    • Moses and Monotheism
  • Admittedly an unusual state, but not one that can be stigmatized as pathological.
    • Referring to romantic love in Civilization and its Discontents
  • America is a mistake, admittedly a gigantic mistake, but a mistake nevertheless.
    • To Ernest Jones ("Amerika ist ein Fehler, zugegeben ein gigantischer Fehler, aber nichtsdestotrotz ein Fehler.")
  • A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success.
    • From Ernest Jones' Life and Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. I, ch. 1 (1953)
  • Was will das Weib?
    • Translation: What does a woman want?
    • More extensive variant: The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is "What does a woman want?"
      • Die grosse Frage, die nie beantwortet worden ist und die ich trotz dreißig Jahre langem Forschen in der weiblichen Seele nie habe beantworten können, ist die: Was will das Weib?
    • Letter to Marie Bonaparte, as quoted in Sigmund Freud: Life and Work (1955) by Ernest Jones, Vol. 2, Pt. 3, Ch. 16
  • In some place in my soul, in a very hidden corner, I am a fanatical Jew. I am very much astonished to discover myself as such in spite of all efforts to be unprejudiced and impartial. What can I do against it at my age?
    • 1931 Letter to Dr. David Feuchtwang. Quoted in Rice, Emanuel (1990). Freud and Moses: The Long Journey Home. SUNY Press, p. 25.
  • What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.[1]

New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1932)

  • Analogies prove nothing, that is quite true, but they can make one feel more at home.
  • One might compare the relation of the ego to the id with that between a rider and his horse. The horse provides the locomotor energy, and the rider has the prerogative of determining the goal and of guiding the movements of his powerful mount towards it. But all too often in the relations between the ego and the id we find a picture of the less ideal situation in which the rider is obliged to guide his horse in the direction in which it itself wants to go.
    • The Anatomy of the Mental Personality (Lecture 31)
  • The poor ego has a still harder time of it; it has to serve three harsh masters, and it has to do its best to reconcile the claims and demands of all three... The three tyrants are the external world, the superego, and the id.
    • The Anatomy of the Mental Personality (Lecture 31)
  • Where id is, there shall ego be.
    • The Anatomy of the Mental Personality (Lecture 31)
  • Thinking is an experimental dealing with small quantities of energy, just as a general moves miniature figures over a map before setting his troops in action.
    • Anxiety and Instinctual Life (Lecture 32)
  • If one wishes to form a true estimate of the full grandeur of religion, one must keep in mind what it undertakes to do for men. It gives them information about the source and origin of the universe, it assures them of protection and final happiness amid the changing vicissitudes of life, and it guides their thoughts and motions by means of precepts which are backed by the whole force of its authority.
    • A Philosophy of Life (Lecture 35)
  • Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities.
    • A Philosophy of Life (Lecture 35)
  • Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.
    • A Philosophy of Life (Lecture 35)


  • A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.
    • This is not a statement that appears in any translation of any of Freud's works. It is a paraphrase of a statement from the essay "Guns, Murders, and the Constitution" (February 1990) by Don B. Kates, Jr. where Kates summarizes his views of passages in Dreams in Folklore (1958) by Freud and David E. Oppenheim, while disputing statements by Emmanuel Tanay in "Neurotic Attachment to Guns" in a 1976 edition of The Fifty Minute Hour: A Collection of True Psychoanalytic Tales (1955) by Robert Mitchell Lindner:
Dr. Tanay is perhaps unaware of — in any event, he does not cite — other passages more relevant to his argument. In these other passages Freud associates retarded sexual and emotional development not with gun ownership, but with fear and loathing of weapons. The probative importance that ought to be attached to the views of Freud is, of course, a matter of opinion. The point here is only that those views provide no support for the penis theory of gun ownership.
Due to misreading of this essay and its citations, this paraphrase of an opinion about Freud's ideas has been wrongly attributed to Freud himself, and specifically to his 10th Lecture "Symbolism in Dreams" in General Introduction to Psychoanalysis on some internet forum pages: alt.quotations, uk.politics.guns, talk.politics.guns, , etc.
  • [About the Irish] This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.
    • A remark quoted in the Oscar-winning movie The Departed.
    • There is no evidence Freud ever said it.[1]

Quotes about Freud

  • He had a sharp vision; no illusions lulled him to sleep except for an often exaggerated faith in his own ideas.
  • Whereas Freud was for the most part concerned with the morbid effects of unconscious repression, Jung was more interested in the manifestations of unconscious expression, first in the dream and eventually in all the more orderly products of religion and art and morals.
  • Doctor Freud not only used cocaine himself, but he also prescribed it to his patients. And then he drew his generalizations. Cocaine is a strong sexual arouser. That's why everything Freud invented — all those oedipuses, sphinxes and sphincters — is relevant only to a mental dimension of a patient, whose brain is turned to fried-eggs by cocaine. In such a state, one really has only one problem left — what to do first, to screw his mother or to do away with his father. Of course, until his cocaine runs out. And in those times, there were no problems with supplies. But so long as your daily dose is less than three grams, you don't have to fear either the Oedipus complex, nor other things discovered by Freud.
  • Perhaps the last cultural fad one could still argue against was Karl Marx. But Freud — or Rawls? To argue against such persons is to grant them a premise they spend all of their effort disproving: that reason is involved in their theories.
    • Ayn Rand as quoted in The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. IV, No. 2 (November-December 1975)


External links

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Proper noun




  1. A surname of German origin.
  2. Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist.

See also


Proper noun


  1. A surname.

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