Sigmund Freud - Psychoanalysis and Sex
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Austrian psychiatrist and founder of psychoanalysis (see point one below).
Controversial because of his emphasis on sex.
His most famous book is...
The Interpretation of Dreams (1913) that says our dreams indicate what’s in our
What did he teach us?
This aims to solve your psychological problems (anxiety, guilt, aggression, etc.)
a) interpretation of your dreams
(the key to your unconscious mind - see point 2)
Every dream enacts one of your desires
b) “free association”
Analysis and discussion of your thoughts with a psychoanalyst, whilst
relaxing on a couch - see point 3
2. Your mind matters
To be free from anxiety and other mental problems, you must balance the three parts of your mind (or psyche),
the id, superego and ego:
Unconscious, inborn, selfish desires (particularly sex), which you want to satisfy immediately (the
Maturer people delay satisfaction of their desires so they can get on with life
(the “reality principle”).
Your conscience and morality, telling you what’s right or wrong.
Your conscious self - what you consider to be you!
The ego tries to reconcile desires (id) and conscience (superego).
Failure to do so will result in guilt and anxiety, unless avoided by defence mechanisms (a
concept later developed by his daughter, Anna Freud, pictured right - see point 3).
You must also confront and overcome repressed emotions and memories (called catharsis) - see
3. Defence mechanisms
Locking up your bad thoughts and feelings in your unconscious, sometimes causing;
- guilt, resentment and bad relationships
- Freudian slips (referring to someone or something by mistake).
Denying reality and your problems.
Taking out your problems on:
- others (leading to blame and hatred).
- yourself (leading to self-hatred and inferiority).
Using unacceptable impulses (e.g. fear and aggression) in an
acceptable way (e.g. sport).
Attributing your unacceptable behaviour to others e.g. an aggressive person accusing others of aggression.
f) intellectualization (or isolation)
Detaching yourself emotionally from a painful memory or event.
Shifting the blame for a problem from yourself to other things or people.
Reverting back to earlier behaviour e.g. adults acting like children.
i) introjection (or identification)
Tackling your emotional weaknesses by using other people's strengths.
Imagining something nice.
Doing the opposite of what you
want to be.
4. Sex is supreme
The libido is your sex drive which is the cause of most of your behaviour.
The main aim of psychoanalysis is to
- transfer the id’s unpleasant desires and feelings into the conscious mind (called
transference see point 5).
- cope with these unpleasant feelings without resorting to defence mechanisms.
To do this Freud laid his patients on a couch without looking at them, so they could talk
about their real feelings without embarrassment.
5. Transference is
This describes the transfer of childhood feelings (particularly from parents and siblings) into adult
- expecting others to live up to these perfect standards - see point 6.
6. Importance of childhood
Your personality is largely developed through:
- your childhood experiences (particularly with your parents)
- various stages in your “psychosexual” development (focusing on sexual
fantasies and sexually sensitive organs like the mouth, bowel, bladder
To be happy you must:
- become independent of your parents.
- find fulfilment from your work and relationships.
7. The Oedipus complex
This is the repressed, unconscious desire to:
- possess the parent of the opposite sex.
- eliminate the other parent.
This causes much guilt.
Freud named it after the Greek mythical character, Oedipus, who inadvertently killed his father
and married his mother.
8. Don't be selfish
The enemy of mental health is self-absorption (or narcissism), where your
life is totally centred on yourself.
To illustrate this Freud uses the story in Greek mythology of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own
9. Religion is rubbish
Religion is an illusion, created for social order and making life
Key quotes on motivation
All that matters is love and work
We are our desires.
Key quote on empowerment and freedom
Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibilities and most people are frightened
Key quote on God and religion
Religion is an illusion.
Key quote on happiness
Look first into the depths of your own soul and know yourself.
Key quotes on psychology
Anatomy is destiny.
The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.