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Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939)

Related: psychoanalysis - psychology

Titles: The Uncanny (1919)

Concepts and themes: dream interpretation - ego - id - perversion - psychopathology - sexuality - libido - thanatos - eros

Anti-populist quote: "The Kino is a vulgar modern entertainment and I doubt if it can tell us anything serious about the modern condition." --Sigmund Freud

By publishing Beyond the Pleasure Principle in 1920, 48 years after Nietzsche had split aesthetic history in Dionysian and Apollonian in The Birth of Tragedy, Sigmund Freud would similarly divide the world in a dualistic proposition by choosing two Greek gods to represent the death drive and life instinct: Thanatos and Eros. [May 2006]

Sigmund Freud

What's on a man's mind is an anonymous caricature of Freud which summarizes his philosophy as "man thinks about sex all the time."

Being in the grips of a nightmare is a common occurrence that we can all relate to, but we may never experience one exactly as a particular artist depicts it. Here Fuseli conjures up a terrifying image filled with mystery, panic, and yet with a vague and disturbing familiarity. It suggests the way the woman feels in the grip of a demonic nightmare, not what she sees. The Nightmare was reproduced as an engraving; a copy hung in Sigmund Freuds apartment in Vienna in the 1920s.


Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 - September 23, 1939) was an Austrian neurologist, who became interested in hypnotism and how it could be used to help the mentally ill. He later abandoned hypnotism in favor of free association and dream analysis in developing what is now known as "the talking cure." These became the core elements of psychoanalysis. Freud was especially interested in what was then called hysteria, and is now called conversion syndrome.

Freud, his theories, and his treatment of his patients were controversial in 19th century Vienna, and remain hotly debated today. His ideas are often discussed and analyzed as works of literature and general culture in addition to continuing debate around them as scientific and medical treatises. As one critic put it in 2003, the followers of Sigmund Freud consider him "... a great medical scientist who uncovered important truths about human psychology...", while others (especially in competing fields such as psychiatry) see him as a "...philosophical visionary who re-imagined human nature and helped us confront taboos, but whose theories, offered as science, fail under scrutiny". http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud

Freud and the Sexual Revolution

In the early twentieth century, Doctor Sigmund Freud of Vienna unmasked the roots of human behavior as being rooted in the libido. This new modern "science" of psychoanalysis revolutionized an entire culture's self image. Victorian prudishness was shoved aside by a new consciousness of a sex drive. Men had an Oedipus complex and women had penis envy according to Freud. The mother's breast was the source of all later erotic sensation. This new philosophy was the new intellectual and cultural underpinning ideology of the new age of sexual frankness.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_revolution [Oct 2004]

Freud and cocaine

1884: Sigmund Freud treats his depression with cocaine, and reports feeling "exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which is in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person. . . You perceive an increase in self-control and possess more vitality and capacity for work. . . . In other words, you are simply more normal, and it is soon hard to believe that you are under the influence of a drug." [Quoted in Ernest Jones, *The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 1, p. 82]

Sherlock Freud

Commenting on Freud's account of the "Wolf Man,"[2] Slavoj Žižek has noted analysts' fondness for detective fiction. In particular, the classical "English" methods of investigation practised by Arthur Conan Doyle's creation Sherlock Holmes were said to have informed many of the games and mechanisms that Freud used to uncover the roots of the patient's psychosis. As Žižek argues, the analyst's adoption of the role of detective, scrutinising the clues that will reconstitute totality and meaning to a scene, is pertinent. Both the detective and analyst are forced to piece together the truth from a series of fragments or clues which predate the investigation. -- Xavier Mendik via http://www.kinoeye.org/02/12/mendik12.php [May 2005]


Freud believed that humans were driven by two instinctive drives, libidinal energy/eros and the death instinct/thanatos. Freud's description of Eros/Libido included all creative, life-producing instincts. The Death Instinct represented an instinctive drive to return to a state of calm, or non-existence and was based on his studies of protozoa. (See: Beyond the Pleasure Principle). Many have challenged the scientific basis for this claim. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud

On sadomasochism

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, took up Krafft-Ebing's terminology but saw the two phenomena as far more closely linked: 'He who experiences pleasure by causing pain to others is also capable of experiencing pain in sexual relations as pleasure. A sadist is simultaneously a masochist, though either the active or the passive side of the perversion may be more strongly developed in him' (1938:570). For Freud, sadism was primary, corresponding to 'an aggressive component of the sexual instinct which has become independent and exagerrated', and masochism, which is 'further removed from the normal sexual goal', must be derived from it 'by transformation' (ibid: 569). - http://www.queernet.org/deviant/ssdyndef.htm

The most common and the most significant of all the perversions -- the desire to inflict pain upon the sexual object, and its reverse -- received from Kraft-Ebbing the names of "Sadism" and "Masochism" for its active and passive forms respectively.

Sigmund Freud, "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality," 1905


Freud (1905) developed his theory of hysteria further, arguing that the hysteric oscillates between taking up a female and male position. The hysteric's confusion, raises questions about the absurdity of defining identity in terms of one or the other gender. Lacan (Ragland-Sullivan) goes further to argue that all subjects are potential hysterics, that hysteria is the price paid for the division of the speaking subject into male and female. Feminist theory (Bernheimer and Kahane) in its rereading of the Dora case history, has appropriated the image of the female hysteric as an heroic figure in rebellion against the dictates of patriarchy. In sofar as the monstrous little woman's actions contravene proper feminine behaviour, we could argue that the possessed female monster is an hysteric, a pubescent girl in revolt against the gender role already carved out for her by a patriarchal culture. --Barbara Creed

Deleuze and Guattari on Freud

In their ongoing attack on the theories of Freud, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari have proposed something called "schizoanalysis" as an alternative to psychoanalytic practice. They said, "A schizophrenic going for a walk is healthier than a neurotic on a couch," a philosophy that we find in practice on the streets of Berkeley, California. Scholars influenced by these two have recently raised the banner of cyberpunk science fiction, since the genre speaks directly to the schizoid character of techno/media life. -- RU Sirius


  1. Interpretation of Dreams (1900) - Sigmund Freud [Amazon.com]

    See entry on dreams

  2. Totem and Taboo; Some Points of Agreement Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics - Sigmund Freud [Amazon.com]

    See entry on taboo

  3. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) - Sigmund Freud [Amazon.com]
    Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality was a 1905 work by Sigmund Freud which advanced his theory of sexuality, in particular its relation to childhood. In short, Freud argued that "perversion" was present even among the healthy, and that the path towards a mature and normal sexual attitude began not at puberty but at early childhood (see psychosexual development). Looking at children, Freud claimed to find a number of practices which looked innocuous but were really forms of sexual activity (thumb sucking was a primary example, the implications being fairly obvious). Freud also sought to link his theory of the unconscious put forward in The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) and his work on hysteria by means of positing sexuality as the driving force of both neuroses (through repression) and perversion. It also included the concepts of penis envy, castration anxiety, and the yet-unnamed Oedipal conflict. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Essays_on_the_Theory_of_Sexuality [Jan 2006]

A Child Is Being Beaten - (1919) - Sigmund Freud

A Child Is Being Beaten - (1919) - Sigmund Freud [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Book News, Inc.
The fifth volume in the series presents a classic essay by Freud followed by discussions that set Freud's work in context and demonstrate its contemporary relevance. "A Child Is Being Beaten" (1919) deals with the childhood beating fantasy (which is often accompanied by sexual arousal), and the theoretical problem of how pleasure and suffering become linked. Contributors represent diverse perspectives as well as diverse regions of the psychoanalytic world. Book News, Inc.®, Portland, OR

Product Description:
This is the fifth volume in the series "Contemporary Freud: Turning Points and Critical Issues," co-published with the International Psychoanalytical Association. This book, like the others in the series, presents a classic essay by Freud, followed by discussions that set Freud`s work in context and demonstrate its contemporary relevance. "A Child Is Being Beaten" (1919) deals with the theoretical problem of how pleasure and suffering become linked. --via Amazon.com

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901) - Sigmund Freud

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901) - Sigmund Freud [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
The most trivial slips of the tongue or pen, Freud believed, can reveal our secret ambitions, worries, and fantasies. The Psychopathology of Everyday Life ranks among his most enjoyable works. Starting with the story of how he once forgot the name of an Italian painter-and how a young acquaintance mangled a quotation from Virgil through fears that his girlfriend might be pregnant-it brings together a treasure trove of muddled memories, inadvertent actions, and verbal tangles. Amusing, moving, and deeply revealing of the repressed, hypocritical Viennese society of his day, Freud's dazzling interpretations provide the perfect introduction to psychoanalytic thinking in action. --via Amazon.com

Freudian slip
The Freudian slip is named after Sigmund Freud, who described the phenomena he called faulty action (Fehlleistung or parapraxis) in his 1901 book The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.

The Freudian slip is an error in human action, speech or memory that is caused by the unconscious mind. The error often appears to the observer as being casual, bizarre and nonsensical.

Although it is certainly true that not all errors done by humans can be explained as Freudian slips, such behavior is often analyzed on the basis that they may be. "Sometimes the truth has a way of coming out in the most embarrassing and unexpected ways." Although this may be true in many cases, such analysis should certainly be treated with skepticism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freudian_slip [Sept 2005]

See also: 1901 - secret - unconscious - psychopath - everyday - life

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