Friday, May 6, 2022

May 6: Sigmund Freud, Austrian founder of psychoanalysis


Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis who, like Darwin and Marx, was a shaper of the world we live in. Before Freud, the person-in-the-street wouldn't be throwing around phrases like Oedipus complex, denial, ego, libido, death wish, defense mechanism, phallic symbol, projection, transference--or Freudian slip. His formal ideas--the importance of dreams and the unconscious; the model of the psychic structure comprising the id, the ego, and the super-ego; the psychosexual development of the individual--have penetrated everyday awareness in extraordinary ways. He popularized (if not invented) something called "talk therapy," the evaluation and treatment of psychological problems through doctor/patient dialogue. Some of his shorter works are quite readable (the titles are more-or-less self explanatory, from the shortest up until about 250 pages): Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis; The Ego and the Id; The Future of an Illusion (on religion); Beyond the Pleasure Principle; Civilization and Its Discontents; Moses and Monotheism; and Totem and Taboo. Nearly 700 pages but worth skimming: The Interpretation of Dreams.


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