Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud's revolutionary ideas have set the standard for modern psychoanalysis and his ideas spread from the field of medicine to daily living. His studies in areas such as unconsciousness, dreams, sexuality, the Oedipus complex, and sexual maladjustments laid the foundation for future studies and a better understanding of the small things that shape our lives.

In 1873 Freud graduated from the Sperl Gymnasium and, inspired by a public reading of an essay on nature by Goethe, Freud decided to turn to medicine as a career(Gay, 10). He worked at the University of Vienna with one of the leading physiologists of his day, Ernst von Brucke, and in 1882 he entered the General Hospital in Vienna as a clinical assistant. After making several conclusions about the brain's medulla, Freud was appointed lecturer in neuropathology. At this same time in Freud's career, he developed an interest in the medical uses and benefits of cocaine(Britannica, 582). Even though some beneficial results were found in some forms of eye surgery, cocaine use was

generally denied by the surgeons of his time. This interest in the narcotic hurt

Freud's medical reputation for a time. This episode in Freud's life has been looked at as an example of his "willingness to attempt bold solutions to relieve human suffering(Wittels,98)."

From 1885 to 1886 Freud spent nineteen weeks with Jean Martin Charcot, a world famous neurologist and the director of a Paris asylum. It was Charcot that first introduced Freud to the idea of hysteria and hysterics. Freud became intrigued by the idea of hypnotism as a method of therapy, but he was told that only hysterics could be treated with hypnotism(Appignanesi, 34). There was a firm belief that only women could be hysteric and that no man or non-hysteric woman could be affected by the use of hypnotism. Freud knew that hysteria could only develop where there is a degeneration of the brain, not just with women but with men too and that hypnotism could have an effect on normal people.

Freud lost his interest in hysteria and hypnotism, but developed a liking of the psychoanalytic method of free association. This method encouraged the patient to express any random thoughts that came to the mind, which promoted a "stream of consciousness" that helped tap into the unconsciousness. The material that the patient said in this stream of consciousness was a link to the ideas of the unconscious mind that was normally hidden, forgotten or "unavailable to conscious reflection"(Freud, 47).
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