PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY – SIGMUND FREUD

Psychoanalysis is regarded as one of the founding theories of modern psychology, with Freud as the father. Often controversial, much of Freud’s theories suggested that people were simply products of our unconscious nature that we either followed blindly or tried to suppress.

To some, he was obsessed with the idea that most human actions were driven by man’s unconscious mind,  and that at the core most people are corrupt with flawed morality. People found his theories uncomfortable because he discussed aspects of human nature that most people would rather ignore. Most of us would like to think that we are good, but human nature is inherently flawed. Freud was often regarded as an anti-Christian, someone whose primary purpose was to destroy Christian morals. As a writer who studies psychology, I am fascinated not only by the complex nature of psychological research but also by the people who inspire them.

In 1881, Freud became a doctor of medicine but later fled Austria to escape Nazi persecution. Though he died in exile in the United Kingdom, much of his life work is still explored and discussed by academics and psychologists today. He was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a method of treating psychopathology by dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. Throughout history, psychoanalysis has been used as a therapeutic method to treat psychopathology through the dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. Psychoanalysis was or is meant to explore the connection between the conscious and unconscious minds.

Over the years, Freud’s theories have been challenged, developed, and ostracized. 

Freud’s work is often viewed by modern psychologists as oversimplified theories obsessed with corrupt morality, today most modern-day psychologists find human behavior to be far more complex. However, his work has greatly influenced the study of human behavior. He developed theories that explore the various stages of early childhood development and the importance of meeting milestones in each stage. Freud believed that childhood personality development takes place during five psychosexual stages: the oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital. The expression of sexual energy (libido) changes throughout each stage and occurs in different areas of the body. He explored aspects of human behavior that most would prefer to ignore, like the dark side of sexuality, suppressed desires, and unconscious thoughts. Freud is often referred to as the inventor of the theory of mind because he was not just responsible for one theory, but many relating to a human’s consciousness. 

Psychoanalysis, is a treatment method for psychopathology, a framework of guided therapy and mental processes. Sometimes when someone experiences a trauma, their conscious mind will find a way to suppress it, resulting in memory gaps. Sigmund Freud proposed that the brain can be compartmentalized, that its function can be broken down into smaller parts. I find his emphasis on fragmented consciousness utterly fascinating. Psychotherapy aims to bring repressed trauma to the surface through techniques such as dream interpretation or free association.

 In psychoanalysis, it is a technique used to help patients understand what they are thinking and feeling.Early on, Freud was greatly influenced by his friend and colleague, Josef Breuer. Breuer had discovered that hysterical patients sometimes get better when they talk candidly about their earliest onset of symptoms. In 1900, Freud published his major work, The Interpretation of Dreams, which explained dreams as expressions of unconscious desires and experiences. Although he was known for his complex mind, he was also addicted to cocaine and cigars and later died of cancer. Nonetheless, he left behind a body of work that is still considered useful today. According to his psychoanalytic theory, human behavior can be explained by three elements of consciousness. Most of his research centers on the unconscious motivations of the ID, ego, and superego. That is, everything you are depends on your unconscious motivations. 

In Freud’s work, he discusses the conscious and unconscious mind and suggests that there are many feelings and thoughts we may not even be aware of. The technique of free association aims to explore consciousness without censorship. According to Freud, true human nature is stored in the subconscious, the place that contains both the good and the bad sides of our psyche. Although controversial, his work has greatly influenced the study of human behavior.  Additionally, he developed psychosexual theory, a theory that was later expanded upon by Erik Erikson’s theory of the eight stages of human development.

In contrast to Erikson’s theory, which had a less controversial undertone about human nature and psychological development is still studied today. Freud however took a more pragmatic outlook on inhuman behavior. He seemed to suggest that people were almost animalistic in their desires and pursuits but chose to suppress or hide them in fear of breaking the social morality standards set by society. He believed that innate were already are present from birth and drove human actions. However, many found his theories to be negative and overtly sexual. 

As we explore Freud’s conceptualization of the human psyche, he takes a closer look at the unconscious and almost selfish desires we have even as infants. During the early stages of development, all babies care about is one thing, their survival. These urges and demands must be satisfied immediately. Ironically some men don’t grow out of this, or perhaps this is just the result of my poor taste in men, particularly the ones I’ve dated in the past. 

ID operates on a pleasure principle. A desire for immediate satisfaction and gratification. It can be simply described as the primitive, instinct-driven part of the unconscious. To understand ID, you can call it obsessed with pleasure and a little chaotic, where ego is organized, all desires almost compartmentalized, where our actions are more conscious. When I investigated the topic of human behavior, I tried to determine what elements determine or influence unconsciousness desires

Throughout history, there has been a great deal of study into human behavior, some of which have been challenged over time and others that are considered more of empirical science. Some believe that Freud’s psychoanalytic theory involving his psychosexual stages of development wouldn’t stand up as humans are becoming more complex. However, one thing that is certain is that most psychologists have served as pioneers in helping us understand human behavior, allowing other modern psychologists to further explore human behavior in depth. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Freud’s work or not; his work has influenced various fields of study and theory. The only thing more complex and controversial than Freud’s work was him. However, I haven’t met a psychologist who wasn’t somewhat complex themselves. Complexity is often the fuel and catalyst for creativity.

By Sharilynn Hanslo

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