Sigmund Freud has had a significant effect on the field of psychology on an international basis. Widely considered the founder of psychoanalysis, recent scholarly studies indicate that many of the principles Freud supposedly originated were a common part of the zeitgeist of the era. Freud lived in Vienna, Austria most of his life and entered the University of Vienna’s medical school although he had no intention of practicing medicine. During this time, however, Freud met one of the strongest influences in his life, Ernst Brücke, in whose laboratory he labored for the next eight years (Goodwin, 2008).
Freud’s main focus during this period was the nervous system. This work led to Freud’s interest in disorders of the nervous system. Patients with neurological problems often suffered from hysteria as well, these types of patients soon became the focus Freud’s life work. Freud soon developed the techniques that would become the center of psychoanalysis; free association and ream analysis. Freud’s theories always included a strong sexual undertone, asserting that most human behaviors originate from sexual or aggressive urges. His strong insistence on this aspect of the human psyche is the point at which most other colleagues of his era disagreed with him, Carl Jung and Alfred Adler specifically (Goodwin, 2008).
Although Freud’s psychoanalysis encountered some resistance in academic circles, it was widely accepted by the general public. Freud published several books on dream interpretation, sexual drive, and the separate functions of the human mind. Freud developed the concept of the id, the ego, and the super ego and illustrated how these different parts of the mind each do their part to balance internal and external perception (Goodwin, 2008).
As some theorists will lament, a time would come when some psychoanalysts would attribute every disorder presented as having a basis in the Oedipus complex (Chessick, 2000), many more were exploring other realms of the psyche. Although some of Freud’s base theories and their origination may now be in question, there is no doubt that Freud was able to prove that some neurological problems were psychological in origin and could, therefore, be treated by psychological means (Goodwin, 2008).
Chessick, R. D. (2000) Psychoanalysis at the millennium. American Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol. 54, No. 3, Summer 2000
Goodwin, J.C. (2008) A history of modern psychology, (Third Edition) John Wiley & Sons, Inc.