October 24, 2002
Dr. J. K. Dawotola
Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856 in Freiberg (now Pribor, Czech Republic). Freud was educated at Vienna University. Then him and his family moved to Leipzig from the anti-Semitic riots. His ambition in his childhood had been a career in law but then he decided to be medical student before he entered to Vienna University in 1873. After this he desire to study natural science and to solve challenging problems that confronted contemporary scientist. In his three year at Vienna University Freud began his research in central nervous system in the physiological lab under the direction of German Physician Ernst Wilhelm Von Brucke.
In 1881 after completing a year compulsory military service he receive his medical degree. After he received his degree he remained at the university as a demonstrator in the physiological laboratory. Freud spent three years at the General Hospital of Vienna devoting himself to psychiatry, dermatology, and nervous disease. In 1885 after appointed as lecturer in neuropathology at the university he decided to leave his post in the hospital. Later that same year Freud studies under Jean Charcot in which centered largely on hysteria, influenced Freud greatly in channeling his interest to psychopathology. Freud than established a private practice in Vienna specializing in nervous disease.
In 1891, Freuds first published work, On Aphasia, it was the study of neurological disorder in which the ability to pronounce words or to name common objects is lost as a result of organic brain disease. His final work in neurology was an article, Infantile Cerebral Paralysis, was written in 1897 for an encyclopedia. His consecutive writing were devoted entirely to that field, which he had named psychoanalysis in 1896. Sigmund Freud developed the technique of psychoanalysis and much of the psychoanalytic theory based on its application. The first of Freud’s innovations was his recognition of unconscious psychiatric processes that follow laws different from those that govern conscious experience.
A basic assumption of Freudian theory is that the unconscious conflicts involve instinctual impulses, or drives, that originate in childhood. His work concerning the structure and the functioning of the human mind had far-reaching significance, both practically and scientifically, and it continues to influence contemporary thought. Freuds new orientation was an indication by his collaborative work on hysteria with the Viennese physician Josef Breuer. His work was presented in 1893 in preliminary paper, and two years later in expanded form under the title Studies on Hysteria. In his work the symptoms of hysteria were ascribed to manifestations of undischarged emotional energy associated with forgotten psychic traumas. The publication of this work marked the beginning of psychoanalytic theory taken from the basis of clinical observations.
Freud during the period of 1895 to 1900 he developed the concepts that were later incorporated into psychoanalytic practice and doctrine. In psychoanalysis, Freud sought to eliminate neurotic symptoms by bringing the individuals repressed fantasies, memories, and emotions into consciousness. After publishing the studies on hysteria he abandoned the use of hypnosis as a cathartic procedure and substituted the investigation of the patients spontaneous flow of thoughts, called free association, to reveal the unconscious mental processes at the root of the neurotic disturbance. In his clinical observations found evidence for the mental mechanisms of repression and resistance. He described repression as a device operating unconsciously to make the memory of painful or threatening events inaccessible to the conscious mind. Freud also placed great value on what could be learned from transference, the patients emotional response to the therapist. Freud believed that during therapy, patients transfer repressed feelings toward their family members to their relationship with the therapist.
He traced the operation of unconscious processes, using the free associations of the patient to guide him in the interpretation of dreams and slips of speech. Dream analysis led to his discoveries of infantile sexuality and of the so-called Oedipus complex, which constitutes the erotic attachment of the child for the parent of the opposite sex, together with hostile feelings toward the other parent. In these years he also developed the theory of transference, the process by which emotional attitudes, established originally toward parental figures in childhood, are transferred in later life to others.
The end of the period was marked with the appearance of Freud most important work, The Interpretation of Dreams. In 1902 Freud was appointed a full professor at Vienna University. This honor was granted not in recognition of his contributions but as a result of the efforts of a highly influential patient. The medical world still regarded his work with hostility, and his next writings, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life written 1904 and Three Contributions to the Sexual Theory written 1905, only increased this antagonism. As a result Freud continued to work virtually alone in what he termed splendid isolation.
After the onset of World War I Freud devoted little time to clinical observation and concentrated on the application of his theories to the interpretation of religion, mythology, art, and literature. In 1923 he was stricken with cancer of the jaw, which necessitated constant, painful treatment in addition to many surgical operations. Despite his physical suffering he continued his literary activity for the next 16 years, writing mostly on cultural and philosophical problems.
When the Germans occupied Austria in 1938, Freud, a Jew, was persuaded by friends to escape with his family to England. Then he died in London on September 23, 1939.
Sigmund Freud created an entirely new approach to the understanding of human personality by his demonstration of the existence and force of the unconscious. In addition, he founded a new medical discipline and formulated basic therapeutic procedures that in modified form are applied widely in the present-day treatment of neuroses and psychoses. Although never accorded full recognition during his lifetime, Freud is generally acknowledged as one of the great creative minds of modern times.
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