The Development of Sigmund Freud’s Theories

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Sigmund Freud was perhaps the most influential figure in the development of psychology as a science. Though his theories themselves may not have been based on much science, and though some have been disproved. His theories and findings have permanently shaped the way. In which we look at human development, personality, and consciousness.

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Born in 1865 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to financially troubled parents. Freud was a lover of literature and spoke a number of languages, and was seen as a prodigy. Freud originally intended to study law. But instead entered into the field of medicine upon his admission to the University of Vienna at the age of 17.1le graduated in 1881 with an MD, In 1882, Freud began researching cerebral anatomy at the Vienna General Hospital. A frequent smoker, Freud believed that smoking tobacco was good for him in moderation and helped balance out other habits. Freud also developed an interest in philosophy before deciding on a career in psychiatry and neurology. Freud was known for using free association and dream analysis in his private practice to analyze the structure of unconscious material in the minds of his patients and to demonstrate the concept of repression. Freud began to refer to his theories and methods as “psychoanalysis”.

The psychoanalytic perspective of personality psychology is based on the idea. That people’s personalities are based on unconscious sexual and physical drives that begin in early childhood. Psychoanalysis states that a person’s unconscious is broken up into three parts: the id, ego, and superego. The id is responsible for unconscious instinctual, sexual, and physical drives, while the superego is responsible for morals and social conformity. The ego moderates between the desires of both the id and superego. Furthermore, a major principle of psychoanalysis is the Oedipus complex. Which states that children have an unconscious desire for sexual relations with their parent of the opposite sex. In girls, this phenomenon is called the Electra complex. This leads to castration anxiety in boys, which is important in the Phallic stage of psychosexual development. Freud broke development down into stages of development. Starting with the oral stage, where pleasure centers are focused on the mouth. Development then shifts to the anal stage, where pleasure comes from controlling the muscles involved in elimination. Problems during this stage can lead to anal retentiveness or expulsiveness later in development. This is followed by the Phallic stage, where pleasure centers on the genitals. Following the phallic stage is the latency stage, where a child begins to learn how to cope with reality and how to deal with sexual feelings. The last stage in psychosexual development is the genital phase, where the individual develops mature sexual interests. Adults can become fixated on any one of these stages. For example, a person stuck in the oral stage is more likely to chew a lot of gum or bite his fingemails, while someone stuck in the phallic stage may be more inclined to buy big cars or be vain as a fully grown man.

Freudian theories say that people use certain defense mechanisms to cope with stressful feelings they may be experiencing. These defense mechanisms include repression, where a memory or feeling is suppressed into the unconscious; regression, where a person may fall back to an earlier stage of psychological development; projection, by which a person assumes that the actions of other people are reflective of his own bad feelings instead of facing them himself; reaction formation, where someone may externally act opposite to what their unconscious drives want, or denial, where someone completely denies that they are experiencing negative feelings. Many more defense mechanisms exist, but these are some of the most common.

Over the years, some have derided Freud’s theories as pseudoscientific or sexist. Though some of Freud’s theories have been disproved, much of what he taught the world still holds true in modern psychology. Free association and dream analysis are useful into deciphering the content of the unconscious mind, and the theory of the id, ego, and superego still holds credence with many psychologists, Freud’s defense mechanisms are still accepted today. Because of the sheer volume of the body of knowledge that Freud developed, and because he was a pioneer in the then-fledgling field of psychology, it cannot be denied that what he discovered has had a lasting impact on the way in which we view the mind, the unconscious, and personality today in modern psychology.

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The Development of Sigmund Freud's Theories. (2022, Oct 06). Retrieved December 6, 2022 , from

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