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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

human suffering(Wittels,98).”

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 child.

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

everyday life.

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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