• Sigmund Freud

    Today psychoanalytic ideas are imbedded in the culture, especially in childcare, education, literary criticism, and in psychiatry, particularly medical and non- medical psychotherapy. It originated with Sigmund Freud in Vienna in the early 1920s.

    1. Biography on Sigmund Freud: (1856-1939)

    – Born in the Czech Republic-moved to Vienna in 1860.

    – Father married 3 times.

    – Studied clinical neurology-obtained degrees 1881.

    – 1886 opened his medical practice.

    – 1891 set up his famous consulting room. (Picture)

    – Josef Breuer- a physician- influenced Freud and introduced him to the “Talking Cure” technique. Both worked together and published “Studies on Hysteria” 1895.

    2. The Oedipus Complex and the “Interpretation of Dreams” (1900)

    – Dreams are sequences of mental images that occur during sleep.

    – Dreams are suppressed thoughts which surface to the mind during sleep.

    – These thoughts are usually suppressed while the person is awake.

    – They are usually within the context of the human usual daily events.

    – It is one of Freud’s most controversial ideas. 

    – Its Freud’s own self-analysis which forms the core of his masterpiece The Interpretation of Dreams.

    – Originated in the emotional crisis which he suffered on his father’s death.

    He says that the complex works as follows:

    – Every member of the audience was once a growing Oedipus in fantasy.

    – For Freud, the Oedipus complex is the central or “nuclear” core of neuroses.

    – At first he was convinced that many of his female patients had suffered sexual abuse or “seduction” by their fathers in childhood.

    – He later realized most of these tales from his patients were fantasies.

    – In his practice, he used the “talking cure” in his psychoanalysis. He created his famous unique consulting room.

     – It was the therapy of talk with out involving medications, he emphasized on reassuring the patients, emotionally supporting them so he could change their basic personality.

    Applying the Oedipal complex to Forms of literature:

    – Freudian theorists go as far as to argue that the Oedipus complex is at the heart of all literature.

    – Comedy can be seen as involving a reversal of the Oedipal relationship.

    3. Freud’s Structural Hypothesis

    One of Freud’s most fundamental ideas involves the notion that the psyche has a number of different levels or systems of awareness: conscious, preconscious, and the unconscious.

    a- Consciousness: Is what we are aware of.

    b- Preconsciousness: Are the thought, memories and similar mental elements which although not conscious at the moment, can voluntarily be brought into consciousness.

    c- Unconsciousness: Is the division, whose elements are prevented from access to consciousness by some intra-psychic force such as repression. 

    These 3 levels can be represented metaphorically by an iceberg:

    – The tip of the iceberg is comparable to the consciousness. 

    – What can be seen immediately below the water is preconscious ness.

    – What is hidden deep in the sea, is the unconscious. Which is larger than the tip of the ice berg.

    – Freud’s “Structural Hypothesis” explains consciousness in terms of elements in the psyche called the id, the ego, and the superego.

    A -The Id:

    – It is the psychic representative of the drives. It seeks absolute pleasure. The id is a source of energy. The drive to satisfy biological drives (hunger and sex).

    – It must be contained, for those whose id is not controlled are unable to defer gratification in order to educate themselves, plan for the future, and function as responsible individuals in society.  Such people’s lives are dominated by their impulses.

    B-The Superego:

    – The superego is the agency in our psyches involved with ethics, morality, and ideal aspirations, it is the drive to do, what our parents and society have taught us.

    – The superego has the following functions:

    1- The approval or disapproval of actions and wishes on the grounds of morality. Disapproval by our superego leads to feelings of guilt and remorse; approval leads to feelings of joy and satisfaction.

    2- Critical self-observation.

    3- Self-punishment.

    4- The demand of compensation or remorse for wrong-doing.

    5- Self-praise or self-love as a reward for virtuous or desirable thoughts and actions.

    Contrary to the ordinary meaning of “conscience,” however, we understand that the functions of the superego are often largely or completely unconscious.

    – The superego functions, then, in opposition to the Id.

    – Our superego is shaped primarily by the superegos of our grandparents.

    – Freud also used the concept of the superego to explain the power that leaders and charismatic figures have over people. 

    C- The Ego:

    – It is the “executant” [execution] of the drives and, in serving this function, it generally reconciles between the id and the superego, trying to keep them in balance. It is the drive to make rational decisions.

    – The mediator between the person and reality.  Its prime function is the perception of reality and adaptation to it.

    – The ego usually start functioning early in life.

    – We can also find id figures, who are motivated primarily by the desire for pleasure, and superego figures, which represent conscience and related matters.


    – Freud’s first introduction to psychoanalysis as a method of explaining and treating.

    – Developed in many ways and many schools emerged. Such as Ego Psychology, Self Psychology, interpersonal psychoanalysis, and many others.

    – Freud’s original major thesis was adapted to different cultures and uses.

    – Freud’s ideas were commonly criticized in their details but never as a whole. He was also criticized due to the fact that he based most of his work on fragile grounds. His theories could not be tested accurately

    Many sub-divisions were adapted to deal with different psychological diseases and age groups. There are some good things, which have resulted from the method of psychoanalysis developed by Freud. However, no doubt he was a pioneer in the establishment of the theory and influenced many researchers.