The Work and Theories of Sigmund Freud

From the Individual to Society

The Work and Theories of Sigmund Freud

As Freud expanded his sphere of inquiry to include basic questions about moral and political life, he inspired intellectuals and artists to take his theories about conflict, desire, and the unconscious into new areas.

These theories seemed to many to open promising new avenues for understanding the successes and failures of modern society. Others thought that these routes led straight to deception — or worse.

The first part of this section deals with the professional expansion of psychoanalysis and the critical reaction to that expansion. Next the exhibition examines Freud's theories of society, from his speculation on its origins to his views of the contemporary world.

The violent crises that shook the world at the end of Freud's life are the subject of the final part of this section.

The vigorous expansion of psychoanalysis in Freud's own lifetime, from the early days of his Wednesday Society in Vienna to the founding of the International Psychoanalytic Association, was accompanied and challenged by criticism equally vigorous.

As he sought to protect his ideas through institutionalization and theoretical orthodoxy, analysts with whom he disagreed were sometimes treated by Freud as dissidents or even heretics.

As psychoanalysis rapidly spread within medicine (especially in the United States) and to other forms of therapy, the social sciences, art, literature, and popular culture, the criticisms of Freud's ideas and his practices kept pace.

In the face of controversy Freud was mindful of creating and controlling his intellectual legacy. He attempted to do this in writings about the origins of his own concepts and of the movement he founded.

In 1902 a small group of doctors, writers, and critics began meeting on Wednesday evenings in Freud's residence to discuss his ideas and plans. These meetings were the beginnings of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. As the organization grew, Freud established an inner circle of devoted followers, the so-called «Committee.»


«The Committee:» (left to right seated) Freud, Sàndor Ferenczi, and Hanns Sachs (standing) Otto Rank, Karl Abraham, Max Eitingon, and Ernest Jones. Berlin, 1922 Becker Maas, photographic studio. Prints & Photographs Division. Library of Congress (124) (LC-USZ62-119779)

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There is not one study which one could point to with confidence and say: «Here is definitive support of this or that Freudian notion.»

H.J. Eysenck and G.D. Wilson, 1973

Freud is the only living human outside the Baptist church who continues to take man seriously.

Zelda Fitzgerald, 1932

In the years following the visit to the United States, the International Psychoanalytic Association was founded. Freud designated Carl Jung as his successor to lead the Association, and chapters were created in major cities in Europe and elsewhere. Regular meetings or congresses were held to discuss the theory, therapy, and cultural applications of the new discipline.

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You can be Lacanians; as for me, I'm a Freudian.

Jacques Lacan, n.d.

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Greenwich Village has gone through radicalism, license, Freudianism, free love, and synthetic gin — and has finished with all that.

Quill, 1921

I so prefer Jung, don't you? He is so much more spiritual.

Waldo Frank, Holiday, 1923

It almost looks analysis were the third of those «impossible» professions in which one can be quite sure of unsatisfying results. The other two, much older-established, are the bringing up of children and the government of nations.

Sigmund Freud, 1937

I'm still basically a Freudian.

Benjamin Spock, 1989

How can an autobiographical writing, in the abyss of an unterminated self-analysis, give birth to a world wide institution?

Jacques Derrida, 1980

Every hour of every day . . . there are people who cannot forget a name, or make a slip of the tongue, or feel depressed; who cannot begin a love affair, or end a marriage, without wondering what the «Freudian» reason may be.

Alfred Kazin, 1947

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Freud saw that society creates mechanisms to ensure social control of human instincts. At the root of these controlling mechanisms, he thought, is the prohibition against incest.

He further speculated that this taboo had its genesis in the guilt stemming from the murder of a powerful patriarch: after the tyrannical father is killed, the sons continue to follow the patriarchal dictates by which they have always lived.

For Freud, the past is not something that can be completely outgrown by either the individual or society but rather is something that remains a vital and often disruptive part of existence. The emphasis on the past being alive in the present is a central theme in psychoanalytic approaches to the individual and society.

[The] primitive stages can always be re-established; the primitive mind is, in the fullest meaning of the word, imperishable.

Sigmund Freud, 1915

The sickness of the individual is ultimately caused and sustained by the sickness of his civilization.

Herbert Marcuse, 1955

The scientific value of Freud's book [ Group Psychology ] consists probably in the fact that, if it is anything, it is a reductio ad absurdum of verbal explanations of society.

American Journal of Sociology, 1924

In this work Freud set out to give an account of the incest taboo and of prohibitions in general. He was guided by the idea that groups only prohibit what individuals really desire. Behind the laws that structure human society, he said, is the horror of incest, and behind that horror are the desire for incest and the murderous capacity to act on that desire.

Objects from the Depths

Freud was fascinated by ancient objects — as if they were witnesses to humanity's deepest impulses covered over by thousands of years of the civilizing process. The presence of these objects seemed to speak to him of the distant, yet still active, past.

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The oedipal vision exhibits a distinct patriarchal bias: it reduces politics to an activity of fathers and sons while relegating women to the role of passive objects of male desire.

José Brunner, 1998

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Science is not illusion. But it would be an illusion to suppose that we could get anywhere else what it cannot give us.

Sigmund Freud, 1927

Problems of Culture

Freud understood culture, as he did dreams and symptoms, as an expression of desires in conflict with one another and with society. He thought religion, art, and science could be richly rewarding. But he emphasized that culture is the product of impulses denied a more directly sexual or aggressive satisfaction.

If these cultural practices fail to alleviate the conflicts at the heart of the human psyche, what then, Freud asked, are the consequences for the individual? If forms of social life fail to meet basic psychological needs, what then are the consequences for society of these unfulfilled desires? These remained for Freud the vital questions about the relation between our civilization and ourselves.

The book [Future of an Illusion] testifies to the fact that the genius of experimental science is not necessarily joined with the genius of logic or generalizing power.

T.S. Eliot, 1928

For Freud, religion was a primitive attempt to deal with the frightening realities of the world and the impossibility of satisfying our fundamental desires. Religion, in his view, was a response to that fear and longing. Love for and fear of the father found symbolic expression, he thought, in the major religious traditions.

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[It] is easy, as we can see, for a barbarian to be healthy; for a civilized man the task is hard.

Sigmund Freud, 1938

Thus Freud shatters the humanist hope that high culture itself may succeed religion as a source of moral controls.

Phillip Rieff, 1966

I have never doubted that religious phenomena are only to be understood on the pattern of the individual neurotic symptoms familiar to us.

Sigmund Freud, 1939

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Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

The Work and Theories of Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud was a late 19th and early 20th century neurologist. He is widely acknowledged as the father of modern psychology and the primary developer of the process of psychoanalysis. 

Early Life

Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia in 1856, the oldest of eight children. His family moved to Vienna when Freud was four years old.

He studied at a preparatory school in Leopoldstadt where he excelled in Greek, Latin, history, math, and science. His academic superiority gained him entry into the University of Vienna at the age of seventeen.

Upon completion, he went on to pursue his medical degree and PhD in neurology.

Freud married Martha Bernays in 1886, and the couple had six children. The youngest of Freud's children, Anna Freud, became an influential psychologist and ardent defender of her father's theories. 

Professional Life

After working with Joseph Breur at the Vienna General Hospital, Freud traveled to Paris to study hypnosis under Jean-Martin Charcot. When he returned to Vienna the following year, Freud opened his first medical practice and began specializing in brain and nervous disorders.

Freud soon determined that hypnosis was an ineffective method to achieve the results he desired, and he began to implement a form of talking therapy with his patients.

This method became recognized as a “talking cure” and the goal was to encourage the patient to tap into the unconscious mind and let go of the repressed energy and emotions therein.

Freud called this function repression and felt that this action hindered the development of emotional and physical functionality, which he referred to as psychosomatic. The element of using talk therapy eventually became the foundation of psychoanalysis.

Contribution to Psychology

Freud drew heavily upon the emphasis of philosophers such as Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, and Kant. Freud’s theories continue to influence much of modern psychology, and his ideas also resonate throughout philosophy, sociology, and political science, with thinkers such as Jacques Lacan and Karl Marx drawing heavily upon Freudian theories.

Freud's emphasis upon early life and the drive to pleasure are perhaps his most significant contributions to psychology. Even contemporary psychologists who disavow Freud's theories often take an interest in a client's early life and the relationship between child and parent.

Some of Freud's most significant theories include:

  • The development of the unconscious and conscious minds. Freud argued that the mind consists of the conscious mind, which contains the thoughts and beliefs of which we are aware. The unconscious mind, by contrast, is a repository for repressed memories and unexpressed desires, and problems with the unconscious mind can lead to problems with behavior and emotional regulation. 
  • The structural model of personality. Drawing upon his theory of the unconscious mind, Freud developed the concepts of the id, ego, and superego. The ego is the everyday personality that we present to the world, but represents only a fraction of a person's true self. The superego, by contrast, serves as a sort of conscience and internalizes moral, social, and cultural norms. The id is a pleasure-seeking, primitive structure that is present at birth. It forms the foundation of a person's personality, and unconscious id desires can explain seemingly unexplainable behaviors. 
  • Stages of psychosexual development. These stages, which include the oral, anal, genital, latent, and phallic, represent different stages of child development during which a child has a major psychological task he or she must complete. The primary task of the anal stage, for example, is toilet training. Failure to competently complete a major developmental task can lead to later psychological problems related to that stage. For example, children who have trouble during toilet training may grow into anally retentive adults. One of the most popular and widely debated sub-theories within the stages of psychosexual development is the Oedipal complex. During this developmental challenge, a son is incestuously attracted to his mother and feels rivalry toward his father. He must resolve this challenge by identifying with his father. 
  • The concept of defense mechanisms. Freud's defense mechanisms—which are still a part of contemporary psychology—are tools of the unconscious mind that are designed to alter reality in order to avoid pain and suffering. Repression, for example, is the tendency to forget troubling events, while projection is the tendency to project one's own traits onto someone else. Freud's defense mechanisms were further developed and codified by his daughter Anna Freud. 
  • Dream interpretation. Freud believed that dreams could be interpreted to glean important information about a person's psychology and personality, and he believed that dreams frequently served as wish-fulfillment devices. 

Freud has played a seminal role in popular culture. Images of a patient lying on a couch, for example, are allusions to Freud.

His remark, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” is still sometimes used to indicate that not every action has deep psychological meaning. In addition, Freudian slips occur when a person says what his or her unconscious mind is thinking or desires.

For example, a woman might say, “I want my ex-boyfriend dead” when she meant to say, “I want my ex-boyfriend back.”  

Later Life and Legacy

Freud developed cancer in 1923 and passed away sixteen years later. His ideas are still debated today, and his techniques and interpretations are widely accepted as the basis of modern psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud is considered one of the most influential people in the history of psychology.

Books by Sigmund Freud

  • Studies on Hysteria (with Josef Breuer, 1895)
  • The Interpretation of Dreams (1899)
  • The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901)
  • Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905)
  • Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905)
  • Delusion and Dream in Jensen's Gradiva (1907)
  • Totem and Taboo (1913)
  • On Narcissism (1914)
  • Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1917)
  • Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920)
  • The Ego and the Id (1923)
  • The Future of an Illusion (1927)
  • Civilization and Its Discontents (1930)
  • Moses and Monotheism (1939)
  • An Outline of Psycho-Analysis (1940)
  • The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess (1986)
  • The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1999)

Last Update: 07-03-2015


The Father of Psychoanalysis

The Work and Theories of Sigmund Freud

A renowned psychologist, physiologist and great thinker during the early 20th century, Sigmund Freud is referred to as the father of psychoanalysis. He formulated several theories throughout his lifetime including the concepts of infantile sexuality, repression and the unconscious mind.

Freud also explored on the structure of the mind, and developed a therapeutic framework that intends to understand and treat disturbing mental issues.

Freud's aim was to establish a 'scientific psychology' and his wish was to achieve this by applying to psychology the same principles of causality as were at that that time considered valid in physics and chemistry.

With the scope of his studies and impact of his theories on the modern world's concept of psychoanalysis, it is evident that much of these principles are rooted from the original works of Freud, although his theories have often become the subject of controversy among scholars.


Freud was born in Moravia, but he was raised in Vienna and lived there until his death. As a student, he was deeply interested in psychoanalysis, although he also considered himself a scientist.

In 1873, he took up biology at the University of Vienna while undertaking research work in physiology.

His mentor was Ernst Brcke, a German scientist who was also the director of the university's physiology laboratory.

The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing.
Quote by Sigmund Freud

In 1881, Freud obtained a degree in medicine, which equipped him with credentials that enabled him to find employment as a doctor at the Vienna General Hospital. However, he became more interested in treating psychological disorders, so he decided to pursue a private practice that focused on this field.

During his travel to Paris, he gained much knowledge on the work and theories of Jean Charcot, who was a French neurologist. Charcot performed hypnotism in treating abnormal mental problems including hysteria.

This inspired Freud to use the same technique, although he eventually discovered the fleeting effects of hypnosis on the treatment of mental conditions. Thus, he experimented on other techniques such as the one proposed by Josef Breuer, one of Freud's collegaues.

The method involved encouraging patients to talk about any symptoms they experience since Breuer believed that trauma is usually rooted from past instances stuck in a person's unconscious mind.

By allowing patients to discuss their symptoms uninhibitedly, they are able to confont these issues in an emotional and intellectual manner. The theory behind this technique was published in 1895, and it was entitled Studies in Hysteria.

Freud, however, became more interested in undertaking further studies on neuroses and sexual origins, which Breuer did not completely agree with.

Hence, the two decided to go on separate ways, while Freud continued with his scientific work on refining the theory of psychoanalysis. In 1900, he was able to publish his study on self-analysis entitled The Interpretation of Dreams.

Other works by Freud include The Psychopathology of Everyday Life and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.

Freud's psychoanalytic theory was rather controversial, and several scholars did not agree with his preoccupation on the topic of sexuality. It was only in 1908 when this theory by Freud was recognized by critics, specifically during the first International Psychoanalytic Congress in Salzburg.

He also received an invitation to the United States, so he could conduct lectures on his psychoanalytic theory. This inspired him to go deeper into is studies, and he was able to produce over 20 volumes of his clinical studies and theoretical works. Fredu also developed the model of the mind as presented in The Ego and the Id, which was his scholarly work in 1923.

Several scientists were inspired by Freud's theories including Jung and Adler, to name a few.

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.
Quote by Sigmund Freud

A Look on Freud's Theories

While Freud was an original thinker, his theories and studies were influenced by the works of other scholars including Breuer and Charcot. However, Freud developed his own scientific studies that were different from the theories of his colleagues.

In fact, much of his concepts were rooted from his past such as in his work entitled The Interpretation of Dreams. Here, he delved into the emotional crisis he went through during his father's death, as well as his battles with dreams that occurred to him in his earlier years.

He underwent a contrasting feelings of hate/shame and love/admiration towards his father.

Freud also admitted that deep down, he had fantasies in which he secretly wished for his father to die as he viewed him as his rival for the affection of his mother, and it was one of his bases for the Oedipus Complex theory.

Freud's Theory of Unconscious

Sigmund Freud believed that neuroses and other abnormal mental conditions are rooted from one's unconscious mind. However, these issues are slowly revealed through various means such as obsessive behavior, slips of the tongue and dreams.

His theory was to go deeper into the underlying cause that produce these problems, wich can be accomplished by inspecting the conscious mind that is impacted by one's unconscious.

Freud also worked on the analysis of drives or instincts and how these arise in each person.

According to him, there are two main categories of insticts such as Eros or life instict and Thanatos or death instinct. The former included instincts that are erotic and self-preserving while the latter was involved in drives that lead to cruelty and self-destruction.

Thus, human actions are not purely rooted from motivations that are sexual in nature since death instincts barely involve sexuality as the motivating factor.

Infantile Sexuality

The theory of infantile sexuality by Freud was influenced by Breuer's concept that traumatic events during one's childhood years can greatly impact adulthood. In addition, Freud claimed that the desire for sexual pleasure had its early beginnings during infancy as babies gain pleasure from sucking.

He referred to this as the oral stage of development, which is followed by the anal stage, where the latter is involved in the energy release through the anus. Afterwards, a young child begins to experience an interest in the genitals during the phallic stage, as well as a sexual attraction for parent of the opposite sex.

Lastly, the latency period is the stage of life when sexual desires are less pronounced, and it may end during the puberty period.

Freud believed that unresolved conflicts during childhood can negatively impact mental health once a person reaches adulthood.

For instance, homosexuality was viewed as the result of issues linked with the Oedipus Complex, which remained unaddressed. It was also the product of a child's inability to identify with his or her parent of the same sex.

Structure of the Mind

Freud claimed that the mind had three structural elements that included the id, ego and the super-ego. It was the id that involved instinctual sexual instincts, which must be satisfied. The go is one's conscious self while the super-ego involved the conscience.

Considering these structural components of the mind, it is important to understand it as a dynamic energy system. To achieve mental well-being, it is important that all of these elements are in harmony with each other.

Otherwise, psychological problems may occur including neurosis due to repression, regression, sublimation and fixation.

Psychoanalysis as Clinical Treatment of Neuroses

The main concept behind psychoanalysis is to address and resolve any issues that arise due to lack of harmony with the three structural elements of the mind. The primary technique mainly involved a psychoanalyst who encourages the person to talk freely about his or her symptoms, fantasies and tendencies.

Hence, psychoanalytic therapy is geared towards attaining self-understanding as the patient becomes more capable of determining and handling unconscious forces that may either motivate or fear him or her. Any pent-up or restricted psychic energy is released, which also helped resolve mental illnesses.

However, there are some questions in terms of the effectiveness of this technique, as it remains open to debate and controversies among scholars.

Evaluation of Freud and His Theories

Freud viewed psychoanalysis as a new science that must be explored to address issues affecting the mind and psychological problems. However, several scholars argue that for a scientific theory to be considered as valid, it must be testable and incompatible with any possible observations.

There is also the questionable aspect of Freud's theories and their coherence (or lack of it).

While his theory provides entities, there is an absence of correspondence rules, which means they are impossible to be identified unless referenced to the behavior that is believed to be the cause of the problem.

Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.
Quote by Sigmund Freud

Since Freud's theory is ly to be unscientific, it is impossible to provide a solid basis for the treatment of mental illness when implementing psychoanalysis as therapy. On the other hand, there are some true and genuine theories that can result to negative results when applied inappropriately.

The main issue here is the fact that it may be difficult to determine a specific treatment for neurotic illnesses by merely alleviating symptoms.

However, the effectiveness of a particular treatment method can be determined by grouping patients and analyzing which ones are cured using a specific technique or those who did not obtain any treatment at all.

Unfortunately, with the case of psychoanalysis as a treatment methodology, the number of patients who benefited from it was not significantly high, as compared to the percentage of individuals who were cured using other means of intervention.

Therefore the effectiveness of Freud's psychoanalysis as treatment remains as a controversial and debatable topic.

More than a century has passed since Freud began to use his personal term «psychoanalysis», to describe what was at once his mode of therapy and his developing theory of the mind.

We live more than ever in the Age of Freud, despite the relative decline that psychoanalysis has begun to suffer as a public institution and as a medical specialty. Freud's universal and comprehensive theory of the mind probably will outlive the psychoanalytical therapy, and seems already to have placed him with greatest thinkers Charles Darwin and William Shakespeare rather with the scientists he overtly aspired to emulate.


Sigmund Freud

The Work and Theories of Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who developed psychoanalysis, a method through which an analyst unpacks unconscious conflicts the free associations, dreams and fantasies of the patient. His theories on child sexuality, libido and the ego, among other topics, were some of the most influential academic concepts of the 20th century.

Early Life, Education and Career

Freud was born in the Austrian town of Freiberg, now known as the Czech Republic, on May 6, 1856.

When he was four years old, Freud’s family moved to Vienna, the town where he would live and work for most of the remainder of his life. He received his medical degree in 1881.

As a medical student and young researcher, Freud’s research focused on neurobiology, exploring the biology of brains and nervous tissue of humans and animals.

After graduation, Freud promptly set up a private practice and began treating various psychological disorders. Considering himself first and foremost a scientist, rather than a doctor, he endeavored to understand the journey of human knowledge and experience.

Early in his career, Freud became greatly influenced by the work of his friend and Viennese colleague, Josef Breuer, who had discovered that when he encouraged a hysterical patient to talk uninhibitedly about the earliest occurrences of the symptoms, the symptoms sometimes gradually abated.

After much work together, Breuer ended the relationship, feeling that Freud placed too much emphasis on the sexual origins of a patient's neuroses and was completely unwilling to consider other viewpoints. Meanwhile, Freud continued to refine his own argument.

Freud's psychoanalytic theory, inspired by his colleague Josef Breuer, posited that neuroses had their origins in deeply traumatic experiences that had occurred in the patient's past. He believed that the original occurrences had been forgotten and hidden from consciousness.

His treatment was to empower his patients to recall the experience and bring it to consciousness, and in doing so, confront it both intellectually and emotionally. He believed one could then discharge it and rid oneself of the neurotic symptoms.

Some of Freud’s most discussed theories included:

  • Id, ego and superego: These are the three essential parts of the human personality. The id is the primitive, impulsive and irrational unconscious that operates solely on the outcome of pleasure or pain and is responsible for instincts to sex and aggression. The ego is the “I” people perceive that evaluates the outside physical and social world and makes plans accordingly. And the superego is the moral voice and conscience that guides the ego; violating it results in feelings of guilt and anxiety. Freud believed the superego was mostly formed within the first five years of life the moral standards of a person’s parents; it continued to be influenced into adolescence by other role models.
  • Psychic energy: Freud postulated that the id was the basic source of psychic energy or the force that drives all mental processes. In particular, he believed that libido, or sexual urges, was a psychic energy that drives all human actions; the libido was countered by Thanatos, the death instinct that drives destructive behavior.
  • Oedipus complex: Between the ages of three and five, Freud suggested that as a normal part of the development process all kids are sexually attracted to the parent of the opposite sex and in competition with the parent of the same sex. The theory is named after the Greek legend of Oedipus, who killed his father so he could marry his mother.
  • Dream analysis: In his book The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud believed that people dreamed for a reason: to cope with problems the mind is struggling with subconsciously and can’t deal with consciously. Dreams were fueled by a person’s wishes. Freud believed that by analyzing our dreams and memories, we can understand them, which can subconsciously influence our current behavior and feelings.

Freud’s theories were no doubt influenced by other scientific discoveries of his day. Charles Darwin's understanding of humankind as a progressive element of the animal kingdom certainly informed Freud's investigation of human behavior.

Additionally, the formulation of a new principle by scientist Hermann von Helmholtz, stating that energy in any given physical system is always constant, informed Freud's scientific inquiries into the human mind.

Freud's work has been both rapturously praised and hotly critiqued, but no one has influenced the science of psychology as intensely as Sigmund Freud.

The great reverence that was later given to Freud's theories was not in evidence for some years. Most of his contemporaries felt that his emphasis on sexuality was either scandalous or overplayed.

In 1909, he was invited to give a series of lectures in the United States; it was only after the ensuing publication of his book Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916) that his fame grew exponentially.

Freud has published a number of important works on psychoanalysis. Some of the most influential include:

'Studies in Hysteria' (1895)

Freud and Breuer published their theories and findings in this book, which discussed their theories that by confronting trauma from a patient’s past, a psychoanalyst can help a patient rid him or herself of neuroses.

'The Interpretation of Dreams' (1900)

In 1900, after a serious period of self-analysis, Freud published what has become his most important and defining work, which posits that dream analysis can give insight into the workings of the unconscious mind.

The book was and remains controversial, producing such topics as the Oedipus complex.

Many psychologists say this work gave birth to modern scientific thinking about the mind and the fields of psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

'The Psychopathology of Everyday Life' (1901)

This book gave birth to the so-called “Freudian slip” — the psychological meaning behind the misuse of words in everyday writing and speech and the forgetting of names and words. These slips, he explained through a series of examples, revealed our inner desires, anxieties and fantasies.

'Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality' (1905)

While no one person will die without sex, the whole of humanity would without it — so sex drives human instincts, Freud believed. In this work, he explores sexual development and the relationship between sex and social behavior without applying his controversial Oedipal complex.

Wife and Kids

In 1882, Freud became engaged to marry Martha Bernays. The couple had six children — the youngest of whom, Anna Freud, went on to become a distinguished psychoanalyst herself.


Freud fled Austria to escape the Nazis in 1938 and died in England on September 23, 1939, at age 83 by suicide. He had requested a lethal dose of morphine from his doctor, following a long and painful battle with oral cancer.

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