Biography of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Sigmund Freud.

Physician, neurologist and Austrian psychoanalyst born on May 6, 1856 in Freiberg (Moravia) and died on September 23, 1939, in London. Creator of psychoanalysis, is considered one of the most influential psychologists not only his time, but the history of thought.

Raised in a Jewish family, at the age of four he/she moved to Vienna where he/she spent his life until 1937, two years before his death. On this date he/she had to leave Austria by the nazi invasion and take refuge in London, where he/she died of jaw cancer victim.

From a young age he/she felt the vocation of researcher, specifically for everything related to Physiology. He/She studied medicine and biology at the University of Vienna and specialized in Clinical Neurology. In 1885, spent a year in Paris, at the hospital of la Salpêtrière, where he/she worked with Charcot, when his career takes a total turn and starts to be interested in the human psyche. Charcot was working in functional nerve diseases, especially in the hysteria, through hypnotic treatments.

In 1889, already in Vienna again, he/she collaborated for the first time with Breuer, Viennese physician, who worked on the same line as Charcot. Between 1896 and 1900, elaborated the method and the basic concepts of the Psicoanalisisy, later applied his psychoanalytic theories to the global interpretation of personality. In 1911, Freudian theories spread to North America, where the American Psychoanalytic Association is founded.

Shortly before his death, was named in London foreign member of the Royal Society. His daughter, Anna Freud, inherited his intellectual legacy, although he/she focused his work on the psychoanalytic study of childhood and adolescence.

In May 2006, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth, organized many events that paid tribute to the creator of psychoanalysis: exhibitions, book presentations and conferences in Vienna, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, London or New York, had as their figure.


Freud didn't intend to create a complete psychological theory, but came to elaborate a system explaining the psychology of the man as a whole. He/She began studying the mental disorder and were then asked for their causes. He/She ended up developing a general theory of psychic dynamism, in the study of human nature through different periods of development in a theory of the impact of society, culture and religion in personality, and a form of treatment. He/She managed to make a psychological theory which encompassed the normal and abnormal personality, and which affected all fields of knowledge: Sociology, history, education, anthropology and the arts.

The first concern of Freud, within the field of the human psyche, was the study of hysteria, through which came to the conclusion that the hysterical symptoms depended on repressed internal psychological conflicts and the same treatment should focus on the patient to replicate the traumatic events that had caused such conflicts. The technique used in principle for it was hypnosis.

He came to the conviction that the origin of mental disorders is on the sex life and sexuality begins long before that at the time thought, early childhood. The affirmation of the existence of the infantile sexuality produced many critical and opponents to his theory. Later introduced other treatment techniques: free association. At the beginning it was parallel to the use of hypnosis, but this last technique just discarding it as less effective. In the free associations the patient expresses uncensored everything that comes to consciousness spontaneously. Subsequently, incorporates the interpretation of dreams in psychoanalytic treatment, because that means that sleep expresses, latent form and through a language of symbols, the origin of psychic disorder conflict. The interpretation of dreams is an arduous task in which the therapist has overcome "resistances" which lead the patient to censor their trauma, as a form of Defense. Another aspect to keep in mind in psychoanalytic therapy is the analysis of the transfer, understood as the update of feelings, desires, and primitive and childish emotions that the patient had towards their parents and most representative figures and that now threatens the therapist. Analysis will allow the patient to understand what obey these feelings, desires and emotions, and reinterpret them unless they cause anguish.

Freud makes a topographic formulation of the psyche and includes the three systems: one conscious; Another preconscious, whose contents can be passed to the former; and other unconscious, whose contents have no access to consciousness. Repression is the mechanism that makes the contents of the unconscious to remain hidden. Later presents a new formulation of the psychic apparatus that complements the previous one. In this structural formulation the psychic apparatus consists of three instances: do this, unconscious instance that contains all the drives and is governed by the principle of pleasure; I, who has mostly aware content, but can also contain unconscious aspects, is governed by the principle of reality and acts as an intermediary between it and the other instance of the psychic apparatus; and the superego, which represents ideal and moral standards.

A basic concept in the Freudian theory is that of "impulse" or pulsion (triebe, in German). It is the basic part of the motivation. Initially the difference two types of drives: the impulses of the self or self-maintenance and sexual impulses. Sexual impulses are dynamically expressed by libido, as rally in the psychic life of sexual drive, is the psychic energy of sexual drive. Later he/she recast his theory of impulses and differentiated between impulses of life (Eros), in which are included the two previous formulation, and impulses of death (Thanatos), understood as the tendency to complete reduction of tensions. Freud had a hedonistic conception of human behavior: understand that pleasure was given by the absence of tension and displacer for the presence of the same. The Agency, initially, is oriented towards the pleasure (pleasure principle) and avoids tensions, displacer and anxiety.

Freud, in addition, contributed a vision evolving regarding the formation of the personality, to establish a series of stages in sexual development. In each of the stages, the end is always common, sexual pleasure, libido development. LLA differs between each one of them is in the "object" to get that pleasure. The child receives instinctual gratification from different parts of the body depending on the stage in which it is located. Throughout the development, the erotic activity of the child focuses on different erogenous zones. The first stage of development is the oral stage, in which the mouth is the erogenous zone par excellence, includes the first year of life. Below is given the anal stage, ranging up to three years. Follows the phallic stage, around age four, in which the child spends the "Oedipus complex". After this period the infantile sexuality becomes a period of latency, which wake up when you reach puberty with the genital phase.

In parallel with this intrapsychic development of the subject, going a process of socialization in which relations with others are configured. It is very important also the identification process, allowing the subject to incorporate the qualities of others in itself, for the formation of their personality.

In its infancy, and even today, psychoanalysis has been a doctrine which has aroused strong passions, in favor and against. Among the criticisms that have been made to the theory of Sigmund Freud, the main has been the lack of objectivity of observation and the difficulty of deriving specific verifiable hypotheses from theory.

Despite the great reproach that ideas freudinas, especially in medical circles, his work brought together a large group of followers. Among them were Karl Abraham, Sandor Ferenczi, Alfred Adler, Carl Gustav Jung, Otto Rank and Ernest Jones. Some of them, such as Adler and Jung were away from the tenets of Freud and created his own psychological conception.

There is no doubt that psychoanalysis was a revolution for psychology and thought of the time and has served as basis for the development and proliferation of a lot of theories and psychological schools.


The writings of Freud was very wide. His works include: studies on hysteria (1895), the interpretation of dreams (1900), the psychopathology of everyday life (1904), three essays on sexual life (1905), the joke and its relation to the unconscious (1905), Totem and taboo (1912-1913), introductory lessons to psychoanalysis (1922), beyond the principle of pleasure (1922), new lessons of psychoanalysis (1933), inhibition, symptoms and anxiety (1936) and Moses and monotheism (1937-1939).