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Sigmund Freud Essay, Research Paper

We live in a world today were everything has to be factual. We as a society need to completely understand everything that is going on around us at all times. We satisfy this need in many ways. From creating scientific formulas that will include every minute detail into its calculations to spending billions of dollars on research to make certain that we completely understand how the human body works. It has almost become and obsession to know everything. This quest for knowledge has helped out our society in many ways. Some of these ways include the invention of insulin or the ongoing search for a cure for cancer. But it also has had many degenerating effects on our world and our society. Included in this list are the over use of fossil fuels and the damaging affects that they have on our environment and the creation of the Atomic Bomb.

But there are still many things that our society does not have the answer for. Many things that we have been attempting to understand for centuries. Even with centuries of study we still do not have enough knowledge on these subjects to know if we are heading in the right direction in our attempt to understand all. Looking at the study of space is a prime example of this. Yes the do know quite a bit about the areas that are within vision of the aided eye. But what about outside of our vision? There could be worlds so far advance compared to us that we know absolutely nothing about. Or to steal an analogy from Biology teacher Mr. Cordukes our universe and surrounding universes could all be located in the pocket of a giant. Or that theory could even be reversed. For all we know every atom could be it s own galaxy. With the neutrons, protons and electrons as planets.

But in this report I will be showcasing one man s research and theories on a topic that like the exploration of space, we have no idea if we are even heading in the right direction. I will be writing about Sigmund Freud and his theories on the human mind.

BACKGROUND:

Sigmund Freud may justly be called the most influential intellectual legislator of his age This quote pretty well sums up the life and times of one the greatest Psychoanalysts of all time. Sigmund Freud was born on May 6 1856 to Jakob and Amalie Freud in Freiberg, Moravia (now know as Pribor, Czech). In 1860 Freud s family moved to Vienna Austria. In 1873 Freud graduated from the Sperl Gymnasium and after being inspired by and essay on nature by Goethe, decided that he wanted to study medicine at the University of Vienna. While at the University of Vienna Freud studied under the leading physiologist at the time Ernst von Bruke. A few years later after doing extensive study on the brains medulla, Freud was appointed the lecturer of Neuropathy.

During this time Freud had been very keen on the pharmaceutical benefits of cocaine. He began testing the drug. Although there were some positive signs when it came of eye surgery, other then that the tests were a complete bust. Not only did he cause several of his close friends to be mortally addicted to cocaine. But this blown experiment severely tarnished his medical credibility for several years. But that was the way that Freud was, he always was willing to attempt to find bold solutions that would help ease human suffering.

After the cocaine disaster he left Vienna to study at the Salpetriere clinic under Jean-Martin Charbot. At this clinic he studies neuropathy for 19 weeks of his life. The time that he spent at the clinic was the turning point of this life. For this is the place that he realized that maybe psychological disorders were products of the abstract mind, and not a product of the physical brain.

Later in 1886 he returned to Vienna and shortly married Martha Bernays. His wife Martha has been rumored to be extremely influential in his work once returning to Vienna. While studying with Josef Breuer he studied patients that had similar hysterical symptoms as the patients that he had studied in his 19 week stay in Paris. The difference here was that instead of using hypnosis to try and find the problems in the mind of the patient, a different state was used. This state was described as an autohypnosis. This state of autohypnosis was not intentionally placed onto the patient though. There is no better way to describe it then to say that it just happened. But once the patient was in this state. It was very easy for the patient to talk about all of the problems that were the cause for the hysterical symptoms. And once the patient has discussed these problems, the symptoms of hysteria seemed not to go away completely, but were significantly reduced. By talking the patient had rid herself of the built up emotional blockage that was the cause of her behavior.

Breuer s discovery with patient Anna O was an amazing breakthrough in the study of hysterics. But Freud did not fully comprehend the discovery until several years later when he developed the technique of free association. This technique had patients express any random thoughts that came to mind. The goals of this technique were to uncover thoughts that had never been able to come out before due to the incompatibility of the conscious and the unconscious.

In the year 1890 Freud presented his findings to the world. All of his theories on the human mind were met with hostile opinions. The reception of his findings were not exactly what Freud thought that he would receive and has very disappointed by the reaction that he got. But nonetheless he kept on striving to find out more information. He eventually founded the International Psycho Analytical Association. It ran for several years but broke up when two of the major player in the group Carl Jung and Alfred Adler left so that they could continue with there work more intensely.

In 1939 with the breakout of WWII Freud and his wife moved to England to escape the German attacks. While in England Freud discovered that he had cancer of the mouth. He died shortly after that in 1939.

Sigmund Freud will always be remembered for his breakthrough discoveries about the human mind. I am sure in time that some of his theories will either be disregarded or dismissed over time but I am sure that more likely then not most of his theories will be improved upon or used as a base for someone else s research.

THEORIES BEFORE FREUD:

Although he may have been one of the most influential men in the history of the study of the human mind, Sigmund Freud was most definatly not the first person to try and discover how the mind works. It seems that there has always been someone in some culture trying to figure out exactly how the human mind functions. Dating back hundreds of years there seems to have always been some sort of quest for knowledge and insight into the human mind.

Hundreds of years ago there was the Greeks. They were great philosophers in their time and were always trying to have a vast understanding of the world around them. From space, to the functions of the earth, to the functions of the mind, the Greeks were always creating theories. When the Greeks saw a person who had a mental disorder, they had a theory that would explain it. Their theory was that there was an imbalance of fire, water, earth and air and that is what caused them to be the way that they were. Of course by today s standards this sounds ludicrous but at the time it made perfect sense.

Another example of people trying to discover the inner workings of the human mind would be Aristotle and Plato. These men were not known to well for their thoughts on the human psyche, but even they had their questions. These two men never went into as much detail as some of the other greats in this field, but nonetheless they still inquired. They wondered about many of the more basic functions of the brain. One of the topics that they covered was if humans were born with skills, or if they were acquired over time, experience and learning. Although they never came up with any theories of any relevance, they still will be known as pioneers so to speak in the field of psychiatry.

Later on in the late 1700 s Frenchman Rene Descartes, developed a theory of his own. His theory on the human mind stated that the human body worked similar to a clock. While the mind and the soul was a totally separate part. He also believed that the mind has innate ideas. He believed that it was these innate idea s that had a crucial effect on how people organized their experience of the world.

The 1800 s is when the study of the human mind began to resemble what it is today. Although the mentally ill were put into large asylums, for the first time they were treated humanely by the Alienists (psychiatrists). The first actual treatments for the mentally ill were derived in these asylums. One of the first methods used was the moral treatment . The goals of this treatment were to try and quiet the turmoil that was occurring in the minds of the patients. Another goal of the moral treatment was to restore some sort of reason into these people.

But of course these theories and methods did not last for long. Around 1850 there was a major shift in the way people saw the illnesses. And theories and thoughts about it changed as well. The new theory that was being passed around was that the illnesses were caused by biological factors. And to go with these new theories and thoughts there were new treatments as well. For the first time in history drugs and physical therapy were being used as a treatment.

The theory that biology had a factor in the mental illnesses lasted until a man by the name of Sigmund Freud came around. Freud, with his very own thoughts, theories, and tests changed the way that the world would look at psychology for many years to come.

FREUDS THEORIES:

Sigmund Freud will always be known as one of the fathers of psychology. In his years of work he seemed to tear apart and explain every single piece of the human mind. After a lot of though, research and testing the man seemed to explain almost everything there was to the human mind. But he will always be remembered for his creation of the Psychoanalysis.

Freud s work with psychoanalysis stemmed from his work with hysterics. This work was done with Josef Breuer after Freud s horrible cocaine incident. Freud first presented the psychoanalysis to the world with a small paper in 1893. This paper was met with harsh reviews and 2 years later he expanded his theories under the title Studies on Hysteria. He believed that the cause of hysteria was repressed emotional energy that was stored up in the mind.

During the years 1895 to 1900, Freud used most of this time to develop the main parts of his theory. After the release of the follow up book Studies on Hysteria, Freud stopped the use of Hypnosis. In it s place he used a new technique that he developed called free association.

Free association was a completely new method of analyzing human thoughts. Instead of the usual hypnosis, patients were encouraged to talk about anything they wanted. Free association was very useful in the investigation of the thoughts of the patients and often helped Freud quickly discover the traumatic event, which was the cause of their mental illness.

With this new method of inquiry into the human mind Freud was able to find out more and more about it. He soon discovered that the mind used defence mechanisms to keep unwanted thoughts and memories out of the conscious mind. Certain traumatic events were repressed in the unconscious so that they would not be remembered. These repressed thoughts often were the cause of the patient s mental illness.

In the year 1897 Freud began to investigate his own mind. Freud, over the following three years would do a self-analysis of his own dreams. He ended this experiment in the year 1900 with the publication of the book Interpretation of Dreams.

Even though Freud had published several papers and books, his work was still not met with acceptance. Even after he became a full professor at the University of Vienna he continued to work alone. It was only with the formation of the International Psychoanalytical Association that his work began to gain some acceptance in the psychology world.

Unfortunately for Freud, the International Psychoanalytical Association disbanded a few years later due to the loss of two of its more influential members Jung and Adler. But this did not stop Freud s work. He continued to work on his analysis and his interpretation of dreams and thoughts. He also began his theories on the three parts of the mind. The Id, the Ego, and the Superego.

Soon after his discoveries of the three parts of the human mind, he began to change his focus. Freud began to look more into religion, mythology, arts and literature. In 1923 Freud was stricken with cancer of the mouth. Due to his condition he worked mostly on his writings. Included in these writings was a revision of his theory on psychoanalysis.

THEORIES AFTER FREUD:

The theories that Sigmund Freud put forth in his career were the standards used in his era. But of course in a field that is constantly changing, it was only a matter of time until someone else came up with a theory that would go above and beyond that of Freud s.

In the late 1940 s to the early 1950 s there was yet another shift in what was believed to be the best therapy for patients. The belief at the time was that it was not so much the inner mind as Freud though, but it had more to do with the social and physical surroundings and environment.

With this new trend there were a number of new treatments tested out. One of these was electro compulsive therapy (electro shock therapy). Another one of the new methods was psychosurgery. Both of these treatments did not work very well and both of them were very inhumane to the patient. This was especially true with the electro shock therapy.

But as had happened many times before a new trend was becoming very popular in this field. Unlike before this was actually a resurgence of an old theory. But with all of the new technology and drugs, the biological theory had a lot more relevance. With these new drugs and treatments came new policies on the treatment of patients.

With an increase in awareness and funding, hundreds of new drugs have been discovered that help with the treatment. Also, genetics has become another theory that has been passed around. But the theory on genetics is fairly new and there is not too much known about the findings of these tests and experiments yet. But as we have seen in the past, in time there will be something discovered with genetics. But we do not know how long this theory will be valid until there is a new discovery made, and all of the support is thrown behind it and genetics becomes a thing of the past.

CONCLUSIONS:

As you can see in this report, there have been a number of changes in the theories and ideas of the cause and the cure of psychological problems. From the original thoughts of the Greek philosophers, to the present day theories about genetics, there has been a drastic change in ideas.

But none of the theories have been more accepted then those proposed by Sigmund Freud. This one man completely changed the way that everyone looked at psychology. He was responsible for the creation of psychoanalysis, self-analysis and he was also the mentor of two of the most famous men in this profession, Jung and Adler. Because of his great credibility and accomplishments, Freud is still considered one of the greatest psychologists of all time.

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