What was Freud known for?

6 min read

One of the most well-known and contentious thinkers of the 20th century is also a well-known name in psychology. The "founder of modern psychology" is frequently referred to as Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist who was born in 1856. How we view and handle mental health issues has been transformed by Freud. In order to listen to patients and comprehend their minds more fully, Freud established psychoanalysis. The influence of psychoanalysis on contemporary psychiatry and psychology is still quite strong. Modern ideas on dreams, childhood, personality, memory, sexuality, and therapy have been influenced by Sigmund Freud and his theories. Numerous other theorists built on Freud's work as they created their own theories in opposition to his, and many more used it as a springboard for their own ideas.

Biography of Sigmund Freud

It's critical to start with a look into Freud's life in order to comprehend his legacy. Much of his beliefs were influenced by his experiences, so finding out more about him and the times he lived in might help us comprehend where his ideas came from on a deeper level. In the region of Moravia, now the Czech Republic, in a place called Freiberg, Freud was born in 1856. In a family of eight, he was the oldest child. He spent the majority of his life in Vienna, where his family relocated a few years after he was born. In Vienna, Freud completed his medical education and started his medical career. In 1885, the University of Vienna engaged him as a lecturer on nervous diseases.

After visiting Paris and hearing lectures given by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, Freud's interest in theories relating to the human mind increased (which would later relate to his work in psychoanalysis). The Viennese medical community rejected the views that Freud brought back from Paris, and he eventually left academia (specifically on what was then called hysteria). In "On Aphasia: A Critical Analysis," which Freud published later, he first used the term "agnosia," which refers to the inability to interpret sensations. Freud also published other significant works in neurology.

Theories of Sigmund Freud

Although Freud's theories had a significant impact at the time they were developed, they have since come under heavy scrutiny. But his theories have permeated our culture, and words like "Freudian slip," "repression," and "denial" are now frequently used in casual speech. According to Freud's views,

  • His theory of the unconscious mind—that there is a storehouse of ideas, memories, and feelings in the mind that are hidden from conscious awareness—is among his most enduring concepts.
  • The id, ego, and superego are the three main components that Freud argued make up personality. The superego is the moral or ethical framework that governs how the ego behaves. The ego is the conscious state; the id is the unconscious state.
  • Freud asserted that two groups of instincts—life and death—governed human conduct. Death impulses include aggressiveness, self-harm, and destruction; life instincts include sexual propagation, survival, and joy.
  • Psychosexual development: According to Freud's theory, there are five stages of growth in which people's personalities and sexual identities develop. These stages are the oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latent stage, and genital stage.
  • Defense mechanisms: According to Freud, people use defence mechanisms to stave off worry. These mechanisms consist of displacement, repression, sublimation, and regression.

Psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud

Psychoanalysis, an entire school of thought, was born from Freud's ideas because of how profoundly they affected psychology. On both the science of psychology and the practice of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis has had a lasting influence. Catharsis was intended by psychoanalysis, which aimed to bring unconscious material into conscious awareness. An emotional release known as catharsis can help those who are experiencing mental discomfort. Psychoanalysis has shown promise as a treatment for a variety of mental health issues, according to research. People can attain long-term growth and improvement by engaging in the self-examination that is a part of therapy.

Psychology's Influence of Freud

Contemporary debate over Freud's theories is intense. His beliefs regarding sexual development, hysteria, and penis envy, for instance, has drawn criticism for being sexist and demonstrating a lack of understanding of women. Freud's views lack the empirical backing that modern psychological theories do, which makes some doubt their veracity. Freud did, however, have a profound and long-lasting impact on psychology, it is still true. He laid the groundwork for a number of ideas that psychologists have utilized and are now using to advance knowledge.


The creation of talk therapy as a strategy for treating mental health issues was perhaps Freud's most significant contribution to the field of psychology. Talk therapy is currently a component of many psychotherapeutic procedures intended to aid people in overcoming psychological distress and behavioral issues, in addition to serving as the foundation for psychoanalysis.

The unconscious

Many people thought that conduct was unfathomable until Freud published his works. He created the theory that our actions are driven by our unconscious, which is a secret motivation. As an illustration, his research on dream interpretation revealed that our true emotions and aspirations are hidden beneath the surface of conscious existence.

Childhood Influence

In particular, Freud thought that traumatic experiences as children can later show as mental health problems in adults. Freud believed that childhood events have an impact on adulthood.  Freud provided the groundwork for childhood to be taken into account during treatment and when diagnosing, even if childhood events aren't the only ones that affect mental health in adulthood.

Literary Theory

Freudian analysis is a common tool used by literary critics and students to interpret literature. With the help of Freud's theories, it is now possible to comprehend fictitious people, including their creators, based on what is stated or what the reader can infer from the text about things like dreams, sexuality, and personality.

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