FREUD, SIGMUND

FREUD, SIGMUND (1856–1939), Austrian psychiatrist and creator of psychoanalysis. Freud was born in the small town of Freiberg, Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic). When he was four his family moved to Vienna, where he graduated with distinction from gymnasium and then entered university as a medical student. As a Jewish student he encountered certain barriers, but he found a haven from the antisemitism of the university community in Ernst Bruecke's physiological laboratory. He worked productively in research with Bruecke from 1876 to 1882, and studied philosophy with Franz Brentano and biology with Carl Claus, a follower of Darwin. In 1882 Freud became engaged to Martha Bernays. Though his interest was primarily in research, he decided to enter clinical practice as a resident at the Vienna General Hospital in order to establish himself sufficiently to be able to marry. While working as a clinician at the hospital, he continued to pursue his neurological research as an assistant to the brain anatomist T.H. Meynert. The work with chronic nervous illnesses of the French neurologist Jean Charcot attracted Freud's interest, and he began to study the clinical manifestations of diseases of the nervous system. In 1885 he was awarded a traveling fellowship, which he spent studying with Charcot at the Salpetrière mental hospital in Paris. Charcot's demonstration that ideas could cause physical symptoms strengthened Freud's determination   to investigate hysterical paralyses and anesthesias. In 1886 he married, resigned from the General Hospital, and set up a private practice in nervous diseases so that he could support his new wife. Freud had already formed a friendship with the Viennese physician josef breuer , who had stumbled upon an innovative treatment for hysteria. In 1880 Breuer had begun treating a young woman who suffered from severe hysterical symptoms – the patient made famous as Anna O. in Freud and Breuer's 1895 epoch-making collaboration Studies in Hysteria. Their work set out for the first time the theory that the unconscious damming up of emotions could produce symptoms of hysterical illness, and its corollary: that if, with the aid of hypnosis or some other method, patients could express this suppressed emotion and the fantasies that accompanied it, their symptoms would disappear. Breuer was a well-established and respected general practitioner who had experimented with a new way of relieving neurotic symptoms with his patient Anna O. (what she called "the talking cure" or "chimney sweeping"). But as the treatment progressed, Breuer felt increasingly overwhelmed by the sexual nature of her behavior and symptoms; and he could not accept Freud's growing conviction that disturbances in sexual life were fundamental causal factors in neurosis and hysteria. A year after publishing Studies in Hysteria, Freud and Breuer parted company. Now working on his own, Freud gave up hypnosis and the method of cathartic discharge for a new therapeutic technique. He asked his patients to relinquish self-censorship and to tell him whatever came into their minds. This process, which he called free association, is sometimes referred to as the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis. It allowed the patients to recall forgotten events and experiences, and so helped Freud uncover what he believed lay behind their symptoms. He soon concluded that an unacceptable impulse, feeling, or fantasy and the resistance that it engendered resulted in a special order of intra-psychic conflict. While the unacceptable impulse would (unconsciously) be repudiated and disavowed, less threatening methods of gratifying it in a disguised form would be pursued. The struggle to both thwart and pursue the impulse could manifest itself in mental or physical symptoms. The task of therapy was to uncover the repression and allow the repudiated impulse into consciousness, where it could be judged, and accepted or rejected; the result of this process was that the unconscious modes of regulation that had produced the symptom were no longer necessary and lost their force. Freud called this form of therapy psychoanalysis. In 1896, almost immediately after his father's death, Freud began the difficult task of working through his own unconscious by analyzing his dreams. He came to the conclusion that a dream-thought is always related to a disavowed infantile (sexual) wish that emerges in the context of the dream only after passing through a mental censorship and distortion that camouflages the wish to such an extent that its expression can be tolerated. The dream thus serves as an exemplary model of the process whereby the repressed achieves expression in a disguised form. Freud articulated this theory in The Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1900, which he considered his most important work. He identified himself with the biblical character of Joseph, the dream-interpreter, and observed that "the interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind" (this sentence was added in 1909 to the second edition). In 1904 Freud published The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, in which he showed that the numerous unconscious slips and mistakes that people make in everyday life are also the outcome of intra-psychic struggle; and that they are not merely accidental occurrences, but like dreams and neurotic symptoms have a meaning that can be discovered through psychoanalysis. In 1905 Freud's theories on the importance, from earliest infancy, of bodily experience, desire, and the Oedipus complex were elaborated and brought together in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sex. From this point on he continued to develop his notions of repression, symptom formation and sexuality. Freud's sexual theories were no more acceptable to the medical profession at large than they had been to Breuer, and for almost a decade he was virtually ostracized by the establishment. But a small circle of colleagues interested in Freud's work slowly collected around him, and his professional isolation finally came to an end. He became concerned that attracting non-Jews to the psychoanalytic enterprise was necessary to avoid its becoming a "Jewish national affair" and encouraged non-Jews to take a prominent role in the newly formed International Psychoanalytic Association. In 1906 he heard that a group of psychiatrists in Zurich, one of whom was C.G. Jung (1875–1961), was interested in psychoanalysis. Freud and Jung met in the following year, and the Swiss psychiatrist became his foremost disciple. Freud applied his psychological theories to primitive cultures, and to mythology and religion. In 1907 he suggested a relationship between obsessive acts and religious rituals. In 1913 in Totem and Taboo he concluded that the dread of incest was universal. In 1909 Freud and Jung traveled together to the United States and gave a week of lectures at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. During that visit, Freud delivered his "Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis" (American Journal of Psychology, 21 (1910), 181–218). Their association lasted until 1912, when Jung went on to found his own school after advancing theories that Freud considered incompatible with psychoanalysis. Jung stressed the importance of universal archetypes in place of the infantile sexual wishes that were at the basis of Freud's view of the unconscious. In 1912 another prominent associate, the Austrian psychiatrist alfred adler , also withdrew from psychoanalysis. Adler, like Jung, also repudiated infantile sexuality; but Adler thought it was the desire for power that was at the basis of character and neurosis. Freud proposed that infancy is dominated by the pleasure principle, which later, during maturation, is modified and   at least partially displaced by the reality principle. Under the regime of the pleasure principle immediate fulfillment and discharge of tension is demanded; while the reality principle operates in realistic terms, takes external conditions into account, includes delay and compromise, and allows the pursuit of gratification by pragmatic means. In 1911 he published "Formulations Regarding the Two Principles in Mental Functioning," which elaborated his view of these two basic principles. Meanwhile, between 1915 and 1917, he was attempting to construct a "metapsychology" by which he hoped to articulate and clarify the principal ideas of psychoanalysis. He explored these ideas in a series of influential papers that included "Instincts and their Vicissitudes" (1915), "The Unconscious" (1915), "Repression" (1915), and "Mourning and Melancholia" (1917). After World War I Freud gave full scope to his speculative tendencies. In 1920 he published Beyond the Pleasure Principle; in 1921, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego; and in 1923, The Ego and the Id. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle he brought the instincts for the preservation of the self and the species under the concept of Eros, a basic impulse toward life, love, and growth. He contrasted this with Thanatos, a death instinct. Many of his colleagues felt that the concept of a death instinct was purely speculative and not adequately grounded in empirical observation; it only found wide acceptance in the work of the later psychoanalyst Melanie Klein and her followers, who felt that the death instinct accounted for some of the self-destructiveness that seems to be part of human nature. In The Ego and the Id, Freud divided the mental apparatus into an ego, an id, and a superego: the ego supporting reason and reality, the id containing the passions, and the superego representing the internalized ethical standards of the parents. Freud's work in understanding human psychology and mental disturbance is without parallel in history. He turned psychology's attention in a new direction. He made systematic contributions in three separate but related areas: human development (especially in childhood); the workings of the mind; and the treatment and cure of mental illness. A concern with biological and bodily processes, especially sexuality, underlay his developmental psychology. But Freud's perspective as a natural scientist was balanced by an emphasis on subjective experience and the formative relationships of childhood. Freud stressed the fundamental importance and dynamic nature of unconscious mental processes in everyday life and symptom formation: the centrality of the role of anxiety, the mechanisms of defense, and the functions of repression, sublimation, denial, and regression. Freud's work has been faulted by many for its emphasis on sexuality and, in particular, for his belief in the universality of the Oedipal drama; on the other hand, there is no question that one of his major contributions was to open up the topic of sexuality for reexamination. Though Freud had a critical understanding of the role of culture and his psychology emphasized its importance in human development, his work has been extensively criticized for being limited by the assumptions of 19th-century science and of his Victorian social milieu. The development of psychoanalysis since Freud's death has involved the elaboration of many of his core ideas; his positions regarding the psychology of women and the contributions of the analyst to the psychoanalytic interaction are among those which have been challenged and significantly modified. Freud's theories have had a wide and far reaching influence on our society. His contributions to other fields are almost as extensive as his contributions to clinical and theoretical psychoanalysis; and the nature of the wider impact his theories have had on our world has aroused as much interest and controversy as his psychology. Freud and his daughter anna freud , the child psychoanalyst, were hurried out of Vienna by his colleagues after the German-occupation in 1938. His other children and their families had already left; his sisters, who were old and infirm, refused to leave, and died in Auschwitz. Freud died the following year in London after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Freud's complete psychological works in English were edited in 23 volumes by J. Strachey and others (1953–66), and his letters were published by E.L. Freud in 1961 (originally published in German 1960). -Freud's Jewish Identity Sigmund Freud (born Sigismund Schlomo Freud) referred to himself as a "Godless Jew." He was a passionate atheist with a commitment to an ethical way of life and an aversion to religious ritual. At the same time, his Jewishness was a significant part of his identity, and throughout his life he felt a strong connection with the Jewish people. Both of his parents came from Orthodox homes in Galicia in the eastern part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. After Freud's birth, when the family moved to Vienna, they settled initially in the Jewish district of Leopoldstadt. It is likely that they celebrated the major Jewish holidays, and we know that Jakob Freud taught his son Bible stories; still, from the beginning, Sigmund Freud's life was also suffused with the liberal humanistic Jewish ideals of 19th century Vienna. His gymnasium taught the classics-based curriculum of the German Enlightenment, although Jews in the school also studied the Bible and Jewish history and ethics. At a time when Austrian society allowed assimilated Jews to advance in society, Freud considered himself part of the wider German culture and, like many of his contemporaries, was ashamed of the "Ostjuden" (East European immigrants) who moved into his neighborhood in great numbers in the 1860s. Although antisemitism was relatively quiescent in Vienna during his youth, a story his father told him of being humiliated as a young man by an antisemite left a lasting impression on the son. Freud recalled this story in his book The Interpretation of Dreams, along with his own disappointment in his father's passive response to the insult. The resurgence of antisemitism in Vienna, by the time Freud entered medical school, shattered his hopes of living a life of equality with non-Jews. When the option of assimilation was no longer   available, Freud chose to express pride in his Jewishness, thus subtly defying those who sought to marginalize, and later to annihilate, him. Freud chose to remain a Jew at a time when conversion was the only route to career advancement; as a result his promotion at the University of Vienna to full professor was delayed by more than 20 years. In 1897 he banded together with fellow Jews in the newly formed Jewish humanitarian organization B'nai B'rith . He presented his developing ideas about psychoanalysis in that forum at a time when he felt excluded by the academic and medical community. At the 70th birthday party that his B'nai B'rith brothers prepared for him, he made that choice clear: "That you are Jews could only be welcome to me, for I was a Jew myself, and it had always seemed to me not only undignified, but quite nonsensical to deny it." Freud never lost his emotional connection with Jewish culture. In private he used Jewish jokes and Yiddish folk tales and phrases to communicate with his friends and colleagues. In 1930 he accepted membership, along with albert einstein and others, in the honorary praesidium of the yivo Institute (known in English as the Yiddish Scientific Institute) in Vilna, which was founded as a Jewish national academy in 1925 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, and studying Jewish culture and the Yiddish language. Freud was sympathetic to the goals of Zionism, which his contemporary, theodore herzl , was pursuing as a response to antisemitism. In 1930, in a letter to Einstein, he expressed pessimism over the possibility of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. However, by 1935 he was to write a letter of support to the president of the keren hayesod (the financial part of the World Zionist Organization) for his work "to establish a new home in the ancient land of our fathers." Freud approved when his sons joined Kadima, the Zionist student association at the University of Vienna, and at the age of 80 he asked to become an honorary member himself. He was particularly proud of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and served on its first Board of Governors, chaired by the university's founding father, Dr. chaim weizmann . Freud thought that religion was essentially a defensive fantasy: a primitive expression of infantile needs (Future of an Illusion, 1927) and unconscious guilt (Totem and Taboo, 1913). Although science and religion were often seen as battling for dominance in the late 19th century, Freud had contemporaries, such as the philosopher and psychologist William James, who held a much more nuanced understanding of religion. Interestingly, Freud married an Orthodox Jewish woman – Martha Bernays, the granddaughter of Rabbi Isaac bernays , who was the chief rabbi of Hamburg. Their marriage was a loving one, but Freud would not allow her to observe even the most basic Jewish ritual of lighting Sabbath candles. In Freud's final years, he wrote Moses and Monotheism (1939), an exploration of issues that had long concerned him. Although he had often expressed pride in his Jewishness, he had always had difficulty defining what, in fact, connected him so strongly to the Jewish people, and what it meant to be a Jew. In Moses and Monotheism, he speculated on the nature and transmission of Jewish identity, and the origins of antisemitism. His account of the beginnings of the Jewish people breaks radically with tradition. In it, Moses was not a Jew but an Egyptian who taught an ancient Egyptian monotheistic religion to a semitic tribe. In the desert, the tribe rebelled against Moses and murdered him. Freud had introduced the theme of the murdered father-figure in Totem and Taboo, hypothesizing that it was at the heart of all religion. In his account in Moses and Monotheism, the suppressed memory of this murder became so powerful that it served as the source of a tenacious religion, in this case, Judaism. The adoption of monotheism, Freud claimed, made the Jews a highly ethical and intellectual people, qualities that he identified as integral to Jewishness. He also associated the murder of Christ with the murder of Moses, and developed a case for this parallel being at the heart of antisemitism. This strange book, with its many complex twists of plot, offended Jews and Christians alike. Anthropologists, historians, and biblical scholars rejected its premises. With the passage of time, however, it has been interpreted more positively, with greater emphasis on what it reveals about its author. Upon dissolving the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1938 and advising its members to flee the Nazi threat, Freud had invoked the memory of Rabbi johanan ben zakkai , who was able to continue the Jewish tradition elsewhere after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Freud had tremendous respect for the power of knowledge, and although he was not interested in the continuation of ancient traditions, he may have hoped that publishing Moses and Monotheism from his new home in London, would ensure the survival of two crucial components of his life: psychoanalysis and the Jewish people. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Jones, Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, 3 vols. (1953–57), includes bibliography; M. Robert, From Oedipus to Moses (1976); D. Klein, Jewish Origins of the Psychoanalytic Movement (1981); P. Gay, A Godless Jew (1987); idem, Freud: A Life for Our Time (1998); E. Rice, Freud and Moses: the Long Journey Home (1990); Y.H. Yerushalmi, Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable (1991); M. Gresser, Dual Allegiance: Freud as a Modern Jew (1994) (Janice Halpern, Arnold Richards, and Sheldon Goodman (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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