Biography of Famous Psychologists Sigmund Freud

About the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud, biography and history of the man.

THE GREAT PSYCHOLOGISTS ON THE COUCH

SIGMUND FREUD (1856-1939)

The father of modern psychoanalysis, Freud was troubled throughout his life by memories of an unhappy childhood. At the age of two or three Sigmund saw his mother nude, an event which aroused his young desires (or so he later claimed) and played a leading role in the formation of his theories on sexuality. He greatly resented the birth of a younger brother, whose unfortunate arrival stole away some of the mother love hitherto reserved exclusively for him; the boy's death eight months later left deep feelings of guilt on Freud's impressionable psyche and provided him with material for his work on family conflicts as the cause of much emotional distress in adults. His love-hate relationship with his father, Jakob, and the hostility he felt as a Jew growing up in German Vienna were reflected throughout his career in his constant struggles with colleagues and disciples. Freud insisted upon complete acceptance of his theories; he could not tolerate even the slightest questioning of his views and would systematically ostracize his major supporters and followers when they inevitably began pointing out inconsistencies in his doctrines. Freud regarded such criticism as a personal attack on him. Like many early psychologists and psychiatrists, Freud became interested in the field through his efforts to analyze his own problems and those of his family. One of his major contributions to the fledgling science was his description of the Oedipus and Electra complexes, in which a boy's desire to mate with his mother, or a girl's desire to mate with her father, can, if carried to extremes, produce severe psychological neuroses and mental aberrations. Freud saw himself as a prime example of a neurotic who had been cured through self-searching; by uncovering the underlying causes of mental problems, he believed, and by understanding them, the patient would surely be freed from his or her bonds. And yet, Freud's own writings and speeches are filled with numerous expressions of inferiority and inadequacy, even late in life. He took an almost masochistic joy in his incessant cigar smoking, although he was warned by swellings and tumors in his throat that the strong fumes were taking their toll. Inevitably, cancer of the mouth developed, and he was forced to suffer through more than 30 operations in 16 years, until he finally died in great pain just prior to W.W. II. Freud's theories live on, a curious reflection of the man who spawned them.

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