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03 Jan 2019

Freud, Sigmund (1856-1939)

Freud’s work may be divided into three areas; his invention of PSYCHOANALYSIS as a therapeutic technique, his theory of PERSONALITY and his social PHILOSOPHY. The origins of Freud’s ideas are more overtly personal that those of any other psychologist: it was an attempt to understand himself that led to the development of psychoanalysis. His father’s death brought DREAMS that troubled him, and in trying to make sense of them, he found the way through to his own UNCONSCIOUS and his unresolved ambivalent feelings about his father and about the Jewishness his father represented. The result was his first major work ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, widely regarded as his most original and influential book and the springboard for the rest of his thought.

On the basis of his own Oedipus complex and of his work with patients, Freud developed a theory of personality which emphasised the crucial importance of the first five years of life in determining the development of the EGO and SUPEREGO and their interrelations with the ID in the adult personality. Freud became increasingly concerned with applying his thinking to the human condition in general and in a series of books,’Totem and Taboo’,’The Future of an Illusion’, and ‘Civilization and lts Discontents’, he worked out the implications of his belief that REPRESSION and its resultant NEUROSIS was the inevitable price mankind paid for civilization.

While each of Freud’s ideas is still hotly debated, by Freudians and anti-Freudians alike, few people would dispute his enormous and widespread influence in making the twentieth century more aware than any previous age of the power of the irrational and the unconscious in human affairs.

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