Sigmund Freud Then and Now

Essay by professordebCollege, Undergraduate May 2008

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Sigmund Freud is one of the most influential psychoanalysts of the twentieth century. Born on May 6, 1856, in Austria, Freud moved with his family to Vienna at the age of four. In the 1860s, Vienna was a melting pot for immigrants, and Freud’s Jewish family was able to flourish (Kandler, 2004). As in living, Freud’s death held significant meaning. According to Neuhaus (2008), Freud died on an important day of Jewish celebration, Saturday, September 23, 1939, the day of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Freud enrolled at the University of Vienna as a law student at the age of 17. During the course of his studies, Freud became interested in the theories of Darwin, believing that they offered a superior understanding of the world. This, and hearing Goethe's essay on nature read aloud by professor Bruhl, led him to become a medical student. After eight years of studies, he received a doctorate of medicine (Wikipedia, 2008).

According to Gabbard (2004), Freud studied with Brucke, Meynert, and Charcot, but Freud ultimately pioneered new research and therapy that came to be known as psychoanalysis. Freud's methods of psychoanalysis are based on his theory that people have repressed hidden feelings. The goal of the psychoanalyst's is to formulate the patient awareness of his or her subconscious feelings (Adler, 2006). Childhood conflicts that are hidden away by the patient become revealed to both the analyst and the patient, allowing the patient to live a less anxious, healthier life. The work that Freud is most famous for stems from his experience with hysteria (Gabbard, 2004). Hysteria is a mental disorder whose symptoms include amnesia, paralysis, unexplained pains, nervous tics, loss of speech, and loss of feeling in the limbs, sleep walking, hallucinations, and convulsions. Hysteria was originally believed to be caused by...