Research Paper: Freud and Psychoanalysis

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SIGMUND FREUD & PSYCHOANALYSIS

The original and revolutionary theories that SIGMUND FREUD developed in his professional life are both extraordinary and controversial. In this paper the fact that Freud was Jewish is explored in terms of the anti-Semitism biases that he had to deal with; his childhood and his education are also reviewed; as well as pioneering discoveries that led to his development of the key cornerstones of human personality. But his development of psychoanalysis which is also reviewed in great detail -- is likely one of his greatest professional achievements. This paper also notes Freud's use of cocaine and his gay relationship with his best friend, Dr. Wilhelm Fliess. But moreover this paper identifies the challenges that faced Freud in the latter part of the

19th century, when he became a medical doctor then took a bit of a detour into the workings of the brain and the personality. No doubt he is to this day considered a giant in the world of psychology and therapy, and no matter that not all of his theories are embraced by today's scientists, Freud's contributions are enormous and useful as well.

Sigmund Freud & Psychoanalysis

Biographical Sketch of Freud's Life

Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856, in what is now Czechoslovakia (and was Austria at the time of his birth). Freud was the first child born during his father's third marriage; his father had been widowed twice previous to his marriage to nineteen-year-old Amalia Nathanson. When Freud was four years old, the family moved to Vienna. Author Samuel Kahn explains that due to Freud's Jewish heritage, and the Nazi's insanely obsessive desire to kill all Jews, Freud needed to flee from Vienna to preserve his life and his library of research and writings. Kahn points out that a woman who had been analyzed by Freud in Austria (which the Nazis annexed early in their drive to dominate Europe) and who had access to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt "…interceded" for Freud, allowing Freud to move to London in 1938, the last year of his life (Kahn, 1976, p. 1).

The Nazi scourge took its toll on Freud's family. Author Giovanni Costigan writes that Freud was the oldest in a family of eight children. One brother died in infancy, another brother was the last child of Jakob and Amalia, and five daughters were born (Anna, Rosa, Mitzi, Dolfi and Paula) in between. Years later, Rosa, Mitizi, and Paul were murdered in Hitler's hideous gas chambers in Auschwitz (Costigan, 1965, p. 3).

As to his father's advice to the young Jewish son, Sigmund told his own children what his father had told him: so not "…submit meekly if…attacked, but…strike back at the aggressor"; throughout his life, in particular when anti-Semitism reared its ugly head, "Freud acted consistently on [his father's] advice" (Costigan, 4). Freud reportedly despised the Christian concept of "turning the other cheek" and had little patience with pacifism (Costigan, 4).

Freud attended an elementary school in Vienna and went to Sperl Gymnasium, a secondary school which served as a preparatory school for college) between the years 1866 and 1873. Everything in his home was "…sacrificed to the single end of his scholastic success," Costigan writes on page 6. Freud was provided with a small private room in the modest household, where he could work "without interruption -- with an oil lamp for late reading while the rest of the household used only candles" (Costigan, 6).

His school studies included Latin, mathematics, Greek and history, and on his own he taught himself Italian and Spanish. He kept a personal diary at this point in his life, writing it in Greek. He was reading and enjoying Shakespeare at the age of eight; he also read the great classic literature extensively, including John Milton, Goethe, and Cervantes, Costigan explains on page 6. When 17-year-old Sigmund attended the Vienna World's Fair in 1873, it was the young man's first interaction with the United States. He was supremely impressed with the Gettysburg Address, the U.S. Constitution, and other American documents. He was so captivated and motivated by the Declaration of Independence that he hung a copy of it "…above his bed in the hospital where he was an intern" (Costigan, 6).

Having passed his final tests with high grades, Freud entered the University of Vienna when he was seventeen (World of Sociology, 2001). In 1873 Freud enrolled in medical school at the University of Vienna, and seven years later he was awarded a doctor of medicine degree, at the age of 24. While he was fascinated with medicine and physical health issues, but there were limited opportunities in the field of academic medicine, and as Jew he had additional challenges in terms of certain biases that were common in that era.

In fact the anti-Semitism in Europe during Freud's formative years was stifling. Indeed Freud was eleven years old by the time Jews were granted "legal equality with their fellow citizens in Vienna (Costigan, 8). It surely was "galling" to learn that his life would be "branded forever with the stigma of [cultural] inferiority," and Costigan (9) asserts that the very fact of being "set apart by race" had an enormous influence "…in the development of Freud's personality."

At the age of twenty-six he married Martha Bernays, and since he now had a wife to support and the stipends he could receive as a young scientists weren't sufficient, he was drawn into psychiatry. He spent three years serving a residency in the general hospital that was the medical center of Vienna, Allgemeine Krankenhaus. And because of his great interest in the workings and structures of the human brain, he got deeply immersed in psychology, zeroing in on the treatment of patients with "hysteria" (World of Sociology).

Using hypnosis, Freud was able to show that the symptoms of hysteria could be traced to "…highly emotional experiences, which had been 'repressed' from past conscious memories (World of Sociology, p. 2). It was about this time that Freud became interested in self-analysis, dream study, and at the age of 39 he first used the term "psychoanalysis."

Freud's Development of Psychoanalysis & Criticisms of Freud

By 1892, Costigan writes, Freud was "becoming permanently disillusioned with hypnosis" because the problems it resolved were "rarely permanent" and the patient became too dependent on the physician (37-38). Hence, Freud began to develop a new method in which the patient was given "…absolute freedom" to talk about whatever came into his mind; this method Freud referred to as "free association" which in time became one of "…two great cornerstones of psychoanalytic practice and one of Freud's most important discoveries" (Costigan, 38).

While fine-tuning the strategy of free association with patients, Freud noted that many of the "episodes salvaged by patients from their forgotten past were sexual in nature," which were difficult for some patients to present, so in time Freud called this patient resistance to reveal intimate details of their lives "repression" (Costigan, 40). And Freud referred to that moment when the patient "projects his repressed infantile feelings" on to the analyst as "transference"; by 1896 Freud had coined the term "psychoanalysis" to describe the strategy he had pioneered. Unfortunately many of his colleagues and other scholars at the Vienna Neurological Society were shocked by his findings and hostile to his methodology, Costigan explains on page 42. In fact the chairman of the Society said Freud's paper, "The Aetiology of Hysteria" as "a scientific fairy tale" (Costigan, 42). Hence, in much of his subsequent work, he relied on himself.

In critiquing Freud's original psychoanalytical theory, essayist Adolf Grunbaum writes that Freud's view of human neurotic symptoms -- which are the "manifest contents of our dreams -- and the "various sorts of slips we commit are constructed as "…compromises between the demands of a repressed impulse and the resistances of a censoring force in the ego" (Grunbaum, 1998, p. 186). The bottom line for Freud was that certain conflicting mental states (like anxiety, shame, guilt, sadness, hate, and disgust), which certainly lack pleasure, tend to provide "fuel" for the act of forgetting -- which in turn leads to repression (Grunbaum, 186).

Grunbaum questions how Freud came to the ultimate conclusion that repression is driven by the "obsessive recall of distressing experiences"; also, Grunbaum insists that there are "defects" in Freud's fundamental rule of "free association" because it seems to the essayist that it is a stretch to say free association can be both "casually investigative and therapeutic" at the same time (187). And moreover, Grunbaum says many scholars today wonder how Freud determined that by having the patient overcome resistances and by "lifting repressions" those "unconscious pathogens of neuroses" can be removed. Grunbaum is not even sure that repression is needed in order to "cathartically lift repressions" (189). And Grunbaum is just one of many scholars, psychologists and writers that have taken Freud and his writings and practices to task.

Essayist Peter Kramer believes that many readers today do not take Freud's recounting of his… [END OF PREVIEW]

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