Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud

Sigismund "Sigmund" Schlomo Freud (b. 6 May 1856 in Freiberg in Mähren, Austrian Empire; d. 23 September 1939 in London) was a Jewish physician, known for his discredited theories on the "unconscious" and sexuality and for creating pseudoscientific psychoanalysis. His theories and practices have had great influence on, for example, psychology, psychiatry, and Cultural Marxism. Criticisms have been extensive.


Early life and marriage

Sigmund Freud was born to Ashkenazi Jewish parents in the Moravian town of Freiberg, in the Austrian Empire (in Czech Příbor, now Czech Republic), the first of eight children. In 1859, the Freud family left Freiberg. Firstly to Leipzig and then in 1860 to Vienna. Freud entered the University of Vienna at age 17. He had planned to study law, but joined the medical faculty at the university.

In 1882, Freud began his medical career at Vienna General Hospital. His research work in cerebral anatomy led to the publication in 1884 of an influential paper on the palliative effects of cocaine, and his work on aphasia would form the basis of his first book On Aphasia: A Critical Study, published in 1891. Over a three-year period, Freud worked in various departments of the hospital. His time spent in Theodor Meynert's psychiatric clinic and as a locum in a local asylum led to an increased interest in clinical work. His substantial body of published research led to his appointment as a university lecturer or docent in neuropathology in 1885, a non-salaried post but one which entitled him to give lectures at the University of Vienna.

In 1886, Freud resigned his hospital post and entered private practice specializing in "nervous disorders". The same year he married Martha Bernays, the granddaughter of Isaac Bernays, a chief rabbi in Hamburg. The Freuds had six children: Mathilde (b. 1887), Jean-Martin (b. 1889), Oliver (b. 1891), Ernst (b. 1892), Sophie (b. 1893), and Anna (b. 1895). On 8 December 1897 Freud was initiated into the German Jewish cultural association B'nai B'rith, to which he remained linked for all his life.

Development of psychoanalysis

In 1886, he had set up in private practice in Vienna, Freud began using hypnosis in his clinical work. He adopted the approach of his friend and collaborator, Josef Breuer, in a type of hypnosis that was different from the French methods he had studied, in that it did not use suggestion. The treatment of one particular patient of Breuer's proved to be transformative for Freud's clinical practice. Described as Anna O., she was invited to talk about her symptoms while under hypnosis (she would coin the phrase "talking cure"). Her symptoms became reduced in severity as she retrieved memories of traumatic incidents associated with their onset.

The inconsistent results of Freud's early clinical work eventually led him to abandon hypnosis, having concluded that more consistent and effective symptom relief could be achieved by encouraging patients to talk freely, without censorship or inhibition, about whatever ideas or memories occurred to them. He called this procedure "free association". In conjunction with this, Freud found that patients' dreams could be fruitfully analyzed to reveal the complex structuring of unconscious material and to demonstrate the psychic action of repression which, he had concluded, underlay symptom formation. By 1896 he was using the term "psychoanalysis" to refer to his new clinical method and the theories on which it was based.


In January 1933, the NSDAP took control of Germany, and Freud's books were prominent among those they burned.

There was a general perception amongst Germans that Jewish intellectuals were subverting German culture and psychoanalysis was one aspect of this concern. A great deal of hostility to psychoanalysis centered on Freud’s advocacy of masturbation and pre-marital sex. Freud’s Jewish disciple, the German born Alfred Adler, advocated “bisexuality” as a means of integrating and healing childhood conflicts.[1][2]

Following the German annexation of Austria in March 1938, Freud left Austria to escape persecution. He was in exile in the United Kingdom.


Main article: Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis has progressively moved towards the fringes of mental health care.[3] Its usefulness as a technique has not been demonstrated.[4] The theoretical foundations of psychoanalysis lay in the same philosophical currents that lead to interpretive phenomenology rather than in those that lead to scientific positivism, making the theory largely incompatible with scientific approaches to the study of the mind.[5]

E. Fuller Torrey, writing in Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists (1986), stated that psychoanalytic theories have no more scientific basis than the theories of traditional native healers, "witchdoctors" or modern "cult" alternatives such as est.[5] Frank Cioffi, author of Freud and the Question of Pseudoscience, cites false claims of a sound scientific verification of the theory and its elements as the strongest basis for classifying the work of Freud and his school as pseudoscience.[6] Noam Chomsky has also criticized psychoanalysis for lacking a scientific basis.[7]

Mario Bunge states that psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience, as claims like that of the Oedipus complex and Elektra Complex are contrary to observational evidence. The philosopher Paul Ricoeur argued that psychoanalysis can be considered a type of textual interpretation or hermeneutics. Like cultural critics and literary scholars, Ricoeur contended, psychoanalysts spend their time interpreting the nuances of language. He classified psychoanalysis as a "hermeneutics of suspicion". By this he meant that psychoanalysis searches for deception in language, and thereby destabilizes our usual reliance on clear, obvious meanings.

He also believed people's entire psychology would be caused by them being fixated on certain stages as he claimed, such as being fixated on the anus, which he called the "anal stage".[8]

Hans Eysenck who sought to reduce all psychological phenomena to purely biological causes, particularly anatomical and genetical, said that Freud set back the study of psychology and psychiatry "by something like fifty years or more."[9]

Even Karl Popper explains, all proper scientific theories must be potentially falsifiable, and Freud's psychoanalytic theories were presented in unfalsifiable form, meaning that no experiment could ever disprove them.[10]

Freud's psychoanalysis was criticized by his wife, Martha Bernays. René Laforgue reported Martha Bernays saying, "I must admit that if I did not realize how seriously my husband takes his treatments, I should think that psychoanalysis is a form of pornography." To Martha there was something vulgar about psychoanalysis, and she dissociated herself from it. According to Marie Bonaparte, Martha was upset with her husband's work and his treatment of sexuality.[11]


Hannibal had been the favourite hero of my later school days. Like so many boys of my age, I had sympathized in the Punic Wars not with the Romans but with the Carthaginians. And when in the higher classes I began to understand for the first time what it meant to belong to an alien race, and anti-semitic feelings among the other boys warned me that I must take up a definite position, the figure of the semitic general rose still higher in my esteem. To my youthful mind Hannibal and Rome symbolized the conflict between the tenacity of Jewry and the organization of the Catholic Church.


  • 1891 On Aphasia
  • 1895 Studies on Hysteria (co-authored with Josef Breuer)
  • 1899 The Interpretation of Dreams
  • 1901 On Dreams (abridged version of The Interpretation of Dreams)
  • 1904 The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
  • 1905 Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious
  • 1905 Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality
  • 1907 Delusion and Dream in Jensen's Gradiva
  • 1910 Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis
  • 1910 Leonardo da Vinci, A Memory of His Childhood
  • 1913 Totem and Taboo: Resemblances between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics
  • 1915–17 Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis
  • 1920 Beyond the Pleasure Principle
  • 1921 Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego
  • 1923 The Ego and the Id
  • 1926 Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety
  • 1926 The Question of Lay Analysis
  • 1927 The Future of an Illusion
  • 1930 Civilization and Its Discontents
  • 1933 New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis
  • 1939 Moses and Monotheism

External links


  1. Freud’s Jewish Subversion Of Christian Culture
  2. A Brief History of Masturbation
  3. (25 February 2005) "French Psychoflap". Science 307 (5713): 1197a–1197a. doi:10.1126/science.307.5713.1197a.
  4. Abbot (15 October 2009). "Psychology: a reality check". Nature 461 (7266): 847–847. doi:10.1038/461847a., as highlighted by Hansen, edited by Elizabeth M. Altmaier, Jo-Ida C.. The Oxford handbook of counseling psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 71. ISBN 9780195342314. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fuller Torrey E (1986). Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists, 76. 
  6. Frank Cioffi (November 9, 2005). Was Freud a Pseudoscientist?. Retrieved on April 13, 2011. “The strongest reason for considering Freud a pseudo-scientist is that he claimed to have tested – and thus to have provided the most cogent grounds for accepting – theories which are either untestable or even if testable had not been tested. It is spurious claims to have tested an untestable or untested theory which are the most pertinent grounds for deeming Freud and his followers pseudoscientists (though pseudo-hermeneut would have been a more apposite and felicitous description).”
  8. Cherry, K. Freud's Psychosexual Stages of Development. Retrieved on May 9, 2012.
  9. Hans Eysenck: Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire, Pelican, Harmondsworth 1986, p. 202.
  10. Popper, Karl. Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. London: Routledge and Keagan Paul, 1963, pp. 33–39
  11. Behling, Katja (2005). Martha Freud. Polity Press, 164–165. ISBN 978-0-7456-3338-1.