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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Things About Sigmund Freud:: His Life, Contributions and Impact in the World of Psychology

Things About Freud - Have you heard of the “Freudian Slip”? The phrase did not simply come out of nowhere. And what is your “Defense Mechanism” when your “Unconscious Mind” urges you to do something that is supposed to be “Repressed”? All these terms became known because of Sigmund Freud, his popularity and the usefulness of his contributions. A. Who Is Sigmund Freud? a. Sigmund Freud was born on the 6th of May in 1856 at 117 Schlossergasse, Freiberg, in Moravia. This is actually the reason why “Schlossergasse has since been renamed Freudova ulice in his honor.”(Jones, 1953, p. 1) When he was a child, one of his greatest interest was to study his family history. His father influenced him with a sense of humor, shrewd skepticism about the uncertain vicissitudes of life, his custom of pointing a moral by quoting a Jewish anecdote, his liberalism and free thinking.

When Sigmund Freud was seven years old, he was soiling the chair with a dirty hand while he was promising his mother that he would be a great man. In fact, it was a fulfilled promise. Aside from this incident, there were other six incidents that had made indications what Sigmund Freud would be. Indeed, Freud had become a man of history and psychology as well as of philosophy and this person has made great contributions to humanity.

As a short summary of his life, Freud was medical student from 1873 to 1881; had a medical career from 1881 to 1885; engaged/betrothed from 1882 to the year of his marriage in 1886. It was after his engagement/betrothal to marry when Freud became interested in psychopathology.

B. Notable Ideas of Sigmund Freud
a. Little Hans Puzzle

It was in 1909 when Freud published the "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five Year Old Boy." It was the paper for the case that has become known as the case of "little Hans." The full history of the case is laid out in detail on tat published paper and it furnishes the psychological community (and the whole scientific world) the invaluable chance of checking his diagnosis against the evidence. On that same year Freud was already equipped with the studies and knowledge on personality. The histologist and brain anatomist had given way to the physical therapist, the hypnotist, the free associationist and finally the psycho-analyst.

b. Do Our Minds Have Divisions?
Another work of Freud that is worth noting is the “Interpretation of Dreams”. In this particular work, Freud noted that in one’s mentality exist three various processes. These are the “the Conscious, Preconscious, and Unconscious” (Stoodley, 1959, p. 38). As Freus sees it, dreams are the fulfillment of the wishes. The Conscious process wishes something and the Preconscious makes another wish that is being rejected and unacceptable to the Conscious causing the wishes to be unsatisfied. The Unconscious has the third wish, which is more on childhood related desires. More elaborations on the Unconscious were made by Freud and became one of his very notable works.

c. The Unconscious Mind
Freud theorized that in order to understand the Conscious mind, its attitudes and thoughts, the Unconscious must be understood first. In fact, according to Dr. Ernest Jones, "Freud's greatest contribution to science … was his conception of an unconscious mind." (MacIntyre, 2004, p. 47)

The Unconscious part is the domain of the mind that which cannot thus be brought into consciousness. It “is the area of the primary process” (MacIntyre, 2004, p. 65) and it is “the background link between infancy and adult life” (MacIntyre), and according to Freud, the instructive contrast for an understanding of the unconscious is that between the ego and the repressed.

d. Ego, Superego and Id
As mentioned in the preceding section, the study of the Unconscious was one of the major focus of Freud’s studies and theories. Another extension, or branch or related study regarding the Unconscious was Freud’s presentation of the Id, Ego and Superego idea. "The ego represents what we call reason and sanity, in contrast to the id which contains the passions." (Freud, 1927, p. 30)

On the other hand, the superego is something more superior (in quality) and has a role to play in person’s self esteem. Or, a role to play in Mesopotamian sex omens: "if a man has a woman grasp his penis he is impure and no god will accept his prayer." The rules of good behaviour and etiquette imposed by society appear to forbid such actions, which may be pleasurable but are not allowed. (Geller, 1997) This is why repression exists.

e. The Libido Factor and Instinct
According to Freud, “we can understand in the first place nothing but the psychic representative of the continually flowing inner somatic source of stimulation which is to be distinguished from a 'stimulus' which comes from combined external excitations.” It is about instinct. With this, Freud had tentatively presumed that various bodily organs may be the source of sexual stimulation.

He assumed that ". . . from the bodily organs two kinds of excitation arise which are founded upon differences of a chemical nature. One of these forms of overstimulation can be designated as specifically sexual, and the concerned organ, an erogenous zone, while the sexual element emanating from it is a partial impulse." 3 The sexual instinct thus shows a similarity with other instincts and also an important difference. The similarity is in the fact that the sexual instinct, like hunger and thirst, is based on a body state, a special chemism. (Stoodley, 1959, p. 48)

Within the same observation, Freud made a differentiation between somatic process and instinct. For Freud, instinct is something that is being processed by the mind.
The aforementioned are some of the ideas that Freud have presented. They are not mutually exclusive nor they are the total and final list of Freud’s ideas and works. Other works and ideas of Sigmund Freud involve Studies on Hysteria, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, Totem and Taboo and many more.

C. Freud’s Theories and Legacies

a. On Psychoanalysis
It is indeed true that no one can impress everyone. In many books, and writings, many critics and questioning articles are thrown upon Sigmund Freud and his ideas. In the field of Psychotherapy however, Freud has made an impact with his ideas and theories. Psychotherapy involves interaction (relational and interpersonal) between the therapist and the patient.

Why and how is Freud connected with the psychotherapy? It is because Freud, as previously discussed, has recognized the unconscious wellsprings of human motivation —“an insight that has shaped education, politics, business, our attitudes toward child rearing, our understanding of history, and literary criticism.” (Basch, 1988, p. 3) Psychoanalysis, as Freud used the term and as it is still used today, according to Basch, refers to a research method into human motivation, to a particular form of intensive psychotherapy, and to his proposed general theory of mental functioning.

b. Impact on Philosophy
French philosophers are among the greatly influenced individuals with Freud’s works. The idea of empathy and unconscious state of mind are some concepts that are highly regarded in the philosophical world. Because Freud’s ideas involve religion and human behavior, his works are being a challenge to some philosophical ideas such as the enlightenment model of rational agency, a major component of the modern philosophical ideas.

Other factors that made Freud a known man in philosophy are his prior lectures regarding science and philosophy.

D. Conclusion
The life and works and most important contributions of Sigmund Freud might not have been laid out clearly and thoroughly in this paper but it is certain that Freud is an icon when psychology is being talked about. A person who knows what psychology is, most probably knows he person named Sigmund Freud as well.

In fact, as mentioned in the beginning of this paper, Freud has become so popular that even the common people use/mention the “Freudian Slip” term in their normal everyday life. A term that is "defined by one wag as being 'when you say one thing and mean a mother" ("FREUD versus FUHRER; Mind," 2007, p. 69)

The legacy of Freud is too strong and it remains in the humanity. His theories may be strongly questioned but it is undeniable that he set the fire out, kindled it out and made the psychology discipline burning.

Basch, M. F. (1988). Understanding Psychotherapy: The Science behind the Art. New York: Basic Books.

Freud, S. (1927). The Ego and the Id (Riviere, J., Trans.). London: L & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, and the Institute of Psycho-analysis.

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