Sigmund Freud: The Father of Psychoanalysis Term Paper

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Sigmund Freud: The Father of Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud, an obscure Viennese Jewish doctor and psychologist had an enormous impact on Western culture in the twentieth century. He institutionalized the practice of psychoanalysis, therapy or the so-called "talking cure." He oversaw the development of psychoanalysis making it into an international movement of medical practice and cultural critique. This in itself is groundbreaking. It is his tragic visions of the human condition that still defines the human psyche today. It is from Freud's work where one gets the concept of repression or in other words, what one chooses to forget from their array of experiences. These repressions are thoughts and emotions usually in the form of erotic and sexual fantasies and yearnings. One represses such emotions in order to maintain one's ego in society. Still this method of handling feelings can result in suffering and pain because one does not display one's true self to the world but what one wants the world to see.

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This paper will examine Sigmund Freud's work and the nature of this theoretical revolution. This paper will also discuss the practical and political consequences of Freud's innovative ideas. This paper will achieve this by first defining Freud's innovative ideas by analyzing the foundation of psychoanalysis. This will include defining the concepts of the Ego and the Self within Freud's frame of reference. Furthermore, the paragraphs below will examine the basis of Freud's research and writings by analyzing his motivations and the underlying reasons behind his theories. This paper will explore his innovative tool of using dreams as a foundation for the "talking cure" and a mechanism for opening up a Subject's subconscious for interpretation. By using dreams as a tool, he makes the Subject comfortable and creates a non-threatening environment in which to share thoughts. Also dreams offer the Subject a chance to remove themselves from their emotions and repressions. This in turn motivates the dialogue to a new level of interpretation. They may say things that never entered their head otherwise.

Term Paper on Sigmund Freud: The Father of Psychoanalysis Sigmund Assignment

What are the implications of such practices? According to Michael Roth " controversy still abounds in medical, literary, and academic circles over Sigmund Freud's and his work" (Roth, 1998 p. ix). It is because his approach was unique for the time that his ideas still remain, not only the basis of modern therapy but also continues to be tested and researched. The implications of his approach are far reaching today both socially and culturally. His focus on repression of emotions or the forgotten created controversy then but still remains innovative today. It brought discussing such matters into the limelight. Freud's studies made discussing sex and the erotic more prominent and acceptable in society as a means of exploring one's feelings. This is evident in the progress made in the fields of art such as music, painting and creative fiction. By opening these new realms, allowed for expression not seen or accepted before.

The Ego and The Subject

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines Ego as "one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality" (Mish, 2004 p. 398). The Ego also functions in aiding perception and the adaptation of reality for individuals. Basically how one defines one's self is directly related to its surroundings. I believe this is one reason why the word ego is synonymous with the word self in culture. Ego is centered completely on a person's perception of themselves and their environment.

In contrast, the Subject is noted as being "the mind, ego or agent of whatever sort that sustains or assumes the form or thought or consciousness" (Mish, 2004 p. 1243). This means the Subject can also be considered as Ego or at par with Ego in rating importance? Or does this mean that the Subject is just simply a by-product of the Ego?

Ego

First the Ego or "I" according to Freud is "symbolized in dreams by a fortress, or a stadium-- its inner arena and enclosure, surrounded by marshes and rubbish-tips, dividing it into two opposed fields of contest where the subject flounders" (Lacan, 1977 p. 5). This is where the idea of the Ego being based upon structure is derived from the imagery of dreams found in the human psyche. It seems one is ready to invent boundaries or compartments of complexities in order to explain or name human behavior. This happens so one can make logical sense out of experiences that may be difficult to process. Even Freud realized he made a mistake and gave Ego too much importance by "attributed powers and responsibilities to the ego that the ego was ill equipped to exercise" (Bodie, 1991 p. 18). It is because of this Freud applied structure or division of the human subject into the conscious and unconscious portions even though structure does not work with the Subject. Despite these separations even Freud admitted "the ego is not sharply separated from the Subject; its lower portions merge into it" (Bodie, 1991 p. 19).

In simple terms, it all comes down to the experiences one has and how one participates in everyday life events. Can the Ego stand in the way of this with its use of structure? Are these events perceived in a structurized manner or does passion override the reaction? It is clear with regard to freedom, the symbol of a fortress can be perceived as very restrictive like a prison. Still the human mind is a more powerful machine and seems to adjust in personality even to the most rigid of walls. It is a matter of "demanding commitment, expressing the impotence of a pure consciousness to master any situation" (Bodie, 1991 p. 6). So the phrase mind over matter resonates deeply into the notion of psychoanalytic freedom. It is within this structure created by imagery found in dreams, physical or not where the battle of the human subject is being waged (Bodie, 1991 p. 21).

Freud's Early Work and Foundation for Psychoanalysis

Freud took it upon himself to study an area untouched by medical science. He wanted to uncover areas of human emotion that remained at the time taboo to exploration. His main motivation or inspiration was his own feelings toward his family. Peter Gay writes, "there were years when Freud was trying to come to terms with his ambivalence about his father" (Gay, 1990 p. 71) and then feeling started in his early childhood. It led him in the naming of his youngest brother Alexander and this action "marries circumspection to self-assertion" (Gay, 1990 p. 71). By naming his brother after Alexander the Great, made the baby superior to his father. It was his first act of defiance. This riff between him and his father only continued his "search of concealed desires, in conflict with one another and with reality" (Roth, 1998 p. 3) and inspired him to pursue unchartered depths of the human psyche. He wanted to understand the dynamic and conflicted self-functioning within society and culture. Freud theorized that society mirrored as mechanicisms the "psychological mechanicisms that inhibit the satisfactions of our basic desires. He built upon this idea by suggesting taboos topics were rooted from the Oedipus Greek myth. He thought guilt, competition and fear all resulted from the Subject's relationship or lack there of with the father. He looked to history for meaning in issues found in his time period. He believed people forgot such matters because they were uncomfortable for the Subject to relive. He slowly developed the "talking cure" as "a model for the modern investment in coming to terms with one's past" (Roth, 1998 p. 3). Much of the success of his studies was the mindset he created for himself, as Freud needed to believe "he was struggling against the world in order to maintain his commitment to his ideas and methods" (Roth, 1998 p. 115).

Much of what he discovered from his patients, he applied to his own behavior, which would later form the foundation of modern psychotherapy. It was believed at the time "Jewish mental illness was the result of the sexual practices of the Jew, such as inbreeding, which created the predisposition for disease" (Gilman, 1993 p. 93). He was during his stay in Paris this exposure to Jewish mental illness inspired his thoughts. His theories on sexual activities stemmed from his views of the Jewish family structure. He believed if the family structure failed or collapsed would cause the family's decent into madness. To think of sexual acts "corrupted the nature of the Jewish character" (Gilman, 1993 p. 99). This was just the beginning of his formulation of ideas. By focusing on the Jewish mind, Freud created a political dimension to his work during a time in Europe when Jews were experiencing anti-Semitism. Still he pursued this new idea of hysteria. He applied this theory to himself and as a result "the idea of seeing the hysteric was tightly bound to the idea of seeing the Jew -- specifically the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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