Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud was the first major social scientist to propose a unified theory to understand and explain human behavior. No theory that has followed has been more complete, more complex, or more controversial. Some psychologists treat Freud's writings as a sacred text - if Freud said it, it must be true. On the other hand, many have accused Freud of being unscientific, proposing theories that are too complex ever to be proved true or false. He revolutionized ideas on how the human mind works and the theory that unconscious motives control much behavior. “He applied himself to a new field of study…and struggled with an environment whose rejection of his work endangered his livelihood and that of his family” (Freud 3). His work greatly improved the fields of psychiatry and psychology and helped millions of mentally ill patients. Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856, in Freiberg, Moravia, a region now in the Czech Republic. His father was a wool merchant and was forty when he had Sigmund, the oldest of eight children (Gay 78). When Freud turned four, his family moved to Vienna, Austria. After graduating from the Spree Gymnasium, Freud was inspired by an essay written by Goethe on nature, to make medicine as his career. After graduating from the medical school of the University of Vienna in 1881, Freud decided to specialize in neurology, the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system (Gay 79). In 1885, Freud went to Paris to study under Jean Martin Charcot, a famous neurologist. Charcot was working with patients who suffered from a mental illness called hysteria. Some of these people appeared to be blind or paralyzed, but they actually had no physical defects. Charcot found that their physical symptoms could be relieved through hypnosis (Garcia 209). Freud returned to Vienna in 1886 and began to work extensively with hysterical patients. While discussing the case history of one patient, Freud said, “In the study of hysteria, local diagnosis and electrical reactions do not come into picture, while an exhaustive account of mental processes, of the kind we were accustomed to having from imaginative writers, enables me, by the application of a few psychological formulas, to obtain a kind of insight into the origin of a hysteria” (Freud 15). He gradually formed ideas about the origin and treatment of mental illness. He used t... ... middle of paper ... ...ia 119). Since the 1970's, many scholars and mental health professionals have questioned some of Freud's theories. Feminists attacked Freud because he seemed to believe that in some respects women were inferior to men. For example, he thought that women had weaker superegos than men and were driven by envy. He also thought that women had penis envy and were jealous of men. Other people challenged the theory that patients' memories of early sexual abuse reflected fantasies rather than actual experiences. As a result of such criticism, most scholars and psychoanalysts now take a more balanced approach to Freud's theories. They use the ideas and techniques from Freud that they find most useful without strictly following all of his teachings. No one, however, disputes Freud's enormous influence. Works Cited Clark, David. What Freud Really Said. Scholden, N.Y: 1995. Freud, Sigmund. The Origin & Development of Psychoanalysis. Henry Regnay, Indiana Press, N.Y: 1965. Garcia, Emanuel. Understanding Freud. NYU Press, N.Y: 1992. Gay, Peter. Freud, A Life Of Our Time. W.W. Norton, N.Y: 1988. Macionis, John. Society: The Basics. Prentice-Hall, N.J: 2000.

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