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Jokes Essay, Research Paper
Sigmund Freud’s revolutionary ideas have set the standard for modern
psychoanalysis that students of psychology can learn from, and his ideas spread
from the field of medicine to daily living. His studies in areas such as
unconsciousness, dreams, sexuality, the Oedipus complex, and sexual
maladjustments laid the foundation for future studies and a better understanding
of the small things that shape our lives.
In 1873 Freud graduated from the Sperl Gymnasium and, inspired by a
public reading of an essay on nature by Goethe, Freud decided to turn to
medicine as a career(Gay, 10). He worked at the University of Vienna with one
of the leading physiologists of his day, Ernst von Brucke, and in 1882 he entered
the General Hospital in Vienna as a clinical assistant. After making several
conclusions about the brain’s medulla, Freud was appointed lecturer in
neuropathology. At this same time in Freud’s career, he developed an interest in
the medical uses and benefits of cocaine(Britannica, 582). Even though some
beneficial results were found in some forms of eye surgery, cocaine use was
generally denied by the surgeons of his time. This interest in the narcotic hurt
Freud’s medical reputation for a time. This episode in Freud’s life has been
looked at as an example of his “willingness to attempt bold solutions to relieve
From 1885 to 1886 Freud spent nineteen weeks with Jean Martin
Charcot, a world famous neurologist and the director of a Paris asylum. It was
Charcot that first introduced Freud to the idea of hysteria and hysterics. Freud
became intrigued by the idea of hypnotism as a method of therapy, but he was
told that only hysterics could be treated with hypnotism(Appignanesi, 34). There
was a firm belief that only women could be hysteric and that no man or non-
hysteric woman could be affected by the use of hypnotism. Freud knew that
hysteria could only develop where there is a degeneration of the brain, not just
with women but with men too and that hypnotism could have an effect on normal
Freud lost his interest in hysteria and hypnotism, but developed a liking of
the psychoanalytic method of free association. This method encouraged the
patient to express any random thoughts that came to the mind, which promoted a
“stream of consciousness” that helped tap into the unconsciousness. The
material that the patient said in this stream of consciousness was a link to the
ideas of the unconscious mind that was normally hidden, forgotten or
“unavailable to conscious reflection”(Freud, 47). Unlike his companion Charcot,
Freud believed that based on his clinical studies, some mental disorders like
hysteria were based on sexual manner. For example, Freud linked “the etiology
of neurotic symptoms to the same struggle between a sexual feeling or urge and
the psychic defenses against it.(Gay, 536)” He felt that being able to talk about
such problems were crucial in helping the patient and using free association was
the best way to confront and treat these feelings.
After the death of Freud’s father in 1899, Freud decided on analyzing the
last words of his father that seemed to have touched Freud. This led to an
interest in the analyzation of dreams which were what Freud called “the royal
road to a knowledge of the unconscious”(Britannica, 585). Published in 1899,
The Interpretation of Dreams which is considered his master work, Freud
presented his findings. In the book, Freud used his own dreams and the dreams
of some of his clinical patients as evidence and he concluded that dreams
played a fundamental role in a person’s psyche. Freud called the mind’s energy
the libido which was related directly to one’s sexual drive. This libido uses
dreams in order to purge pleasurable or painful feelings as an
outlet(Appignanesi, 64). According to Freud, all dreams, including nightmares,
are outlets of this libido energy.
In order to understand and fully interpret dreams, Freud devised a four
point system that is used to interpret dreams:
The first point is called condensation, which operates through the fusion of
several different ideas or elements into one vision.
The second point, called displacement, involves substitution of one thing for
another such as a king and a father.
The third point, called representation, involves the transformation of
thoughts into images.
The final point involves looking at the dream from a different perspective
and recollecting the thoughts in a conscious state(Wittels, 211).
In 1904 Sigmund Freud published the book The Psychopathology of
Everyday Life which explored everyday errors in speech which he believed were
of interpretable importance. These “Freudian slip’s” were unlike dreams in the
sense that they can arise from immediate hostile, jealous, or egotistic causes.
Just one year after publishing his book on psychopathology in everyday
situations, Freud published Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. In this
book, Freud compared jokes to dreams in the sense that like dreams, jokes had
a double sided meaning. What he meant by this was that jokes were formed in
the conscious, but had a base in the unconscious mind. In addition to publishing
a book on jokes in 1905, Freud published Three Essays on the Theory of
Sexuality. This book established Freud and some of his associates Richard von
Kraft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis, Albert Moll, and Iwan Bloch as the “pioneering
experts of sexology.”(Gay, 613) Sexual development starting young children,
along with the ease of maladjustment in sexual development were the main
basis of this publication. Freud stated that sexuality was one of the main
“movers” in human behavior. Sigmund Freud outlined three stages of the sexual
development of children:
The oral phase, which occurs first, plants the seed of the mother being a
love object because of breast feeding. The mother is the first love object for
The anal phase, occurs second because of the introduction to toilet training.
This stage is especially important because the skill of self-control is put upon
the child. As the child develops, he/she learns that defecation is pleasurable,
and must be controlled.
The phallic stage is the final stage of sexual development. Freud based it
on the story of Oedipus Rex(Appignanesi, 98). The general story of Oedipus
is the urge to sleep with your mother and kill your father. The reason that
Freud associated this story is because in 1896, the year that his father died,
he began the analyzation of his dad’s dreams. In doing so, he confronted a
hatred toward his father through his dreams.
Through the studies that Sigmund Freud conducted in sexology, he asked
himself the question of how are homosexuals developed? After studying for a
time he concluded that due to possible trauma as children(such as sexual
abuse), homosexuals could have been forced in the wrong direction. This
maladjustment forces a perversion into the person which the libido(the mind’s
energy and the person’s sexual drive) takes over in the form of an obsession.
In 1923 Freud published the book The Ego and the Id. He split up the
human psyche into three different forms:
The Id was the first and represented the primitive urges of children and which
were based centrally on the desire for pleasure.
The ego is considered to be the guide for reality and changes with the
situation that the person is in.
The super-ego is related to the Id in the sense that it is based in feelings of
the past and it provides an outlet for a person’s aggressions(Britannica, 584).
Sigmund Freud laid the foundation for modern psycochanalysis so that
students of psychology could study and expand on his ideas. His ideas were
ground-breaking and were not like anything that anyone had ever heard of.
All of his ideas can be directly related back to people and applied to
Such ideas like jokes and their relation to the unconscious are extremely
fascinating because of their significance to what people really are. Because of
Freud, people can step back and look at exactly what their dreams mean and
what their mind is trying to tell them. One of Freud’s greatest contributions to
society was his expertise in the field of sexology. Because of his work, Freud
introduced a way to people which allows them to understand how they were
brought up and allows them to figure out the best way to bring up their own
children. Also, Freud’s discoveries in sexual problems and perversions allow
people to have a greater understanding of what makes people do the things that
they do. Freud’s ingenious development of the three stage way that children
form their sexual identies allows parents to have a better understanding of what
their children are going through and the importance of small things in life like
toilet training and it’s relation to controlling the pleasures of every day life.
Sigmund Freud’s work can have an effect on all people’s lives if they know what
his has done and if they take a moment to analyze their own lives.
“I am actually not a man of science at all … I am nothing but a
conquistador by temperament, an adventurer.”
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