Sigmund Freud’s Theories

Freud theories

Sigmund Freud, an Austrian psychiatrist and thinker, has developed many theories on the human subjectivity and founded the psychoanalysis method.

Freud explored the unconscious, still poorly known in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries. Freud conceived the unconscious as a system of the psychic apparatus, handling the repressed phenomenon.

Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis:

1. The Therapy theory


What is psychoanalysis according to Freud ? This is not a philosophical system.

Freud, physician and clinician, was originally a therapist, and in this practical perspective, it is necessary to define the psychoanalysis psychotherapeutic method based on the analysis of the transfer.

– Psychoanalysis, in fact, is an act.

– It does not seek to experience, but to change something, and that by clarifying the meaning of the transfer, that is to say the projection on the person of the therapist, a load of emotional energy and feelings originally experienced by the child against parent.

– This transfer can be positive and favorable factors include the analysis, but also negative (with hostile elements).

This therapy is primarily through the transfer to the healing of neuroses, mental disorders whose origin and whose symptoms symbolically express a conflict resulting from the subject’s history and his childhood.

It is in the Oedipus complex which is, with its derivatives, the central complex of every neurosis. Define it as an affective disposition by which a human being is tied, sexually, to its parent of the opposite sex and nurtures an attitude of aversion to his same-sex parent.

2. The theory of unconscious

By defining psychoanalysis as a psychotherapeutic method based on analysis of the transfer, we have not yet reached its central concept of the unconscious.

– And, indeed, psychoanalysis is a method of investigation highlighting unconscious meanings.

What is the unconscious according to Freud?

– We must grasp it dynamically, not static.

– Before Freud, many philosophers have pointed out that part of our psyche is beyond consciousness (Leibniz, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche mainly)

Freud (and this is the novelty of his approach) considers the unconscious psychic formed by a system which can access consciousness, as it is the product of repression, that is to say a psychological process of self defense rejecting impulses and desires.

– But what does the unconscious exactly drives?

► They are those who disagree with censorship, unconscious body created by education and preventing access to consciousness.

By defining the unconscious from the discharge, stressing that it is a resistance (a significant force of a conflict and now the disease state) which prevents the memories of reaching the sphere conscious, Freud described this as dynamically some before him, gave to see a static, frozen or very general.

– Conscious, unconscious and preconscious are aspects and moments of a process: apart from the conscious and the unconscious, Freud admits, indeed, the time of the preconscious.

– As part of the unconscious that is sometimes unconscious, sometimes becomes conscious, it claims that it is capable of becoming conscious and gave it the name of the preconscious.

Freud’s theories on Dreams and Unconscious:

How to access the unconscious dynamics that forms the background of our psyche?

– The repressed contents are manifested in disease processes and psychopathology (neurosis …) but also the dreams and parapraxes.

Through these various events, the unconscious content enters, hidden, conscious and until it becomes possible, through seemingly irrational elements, interpret what seemed incoherent and to identify intent and meaning, to decipher this which is hidden, giving it an intelligibility.

So is it a dream? (Imaginary realization of a desire for sleep, producing psychological significance), where Freud distinguishes a manifest content and latent content, the first denoting the facade behind which lurks the real fact, the dream as it appears The second, a set of themes from repressed dream and presiding at the bottom of the unconscious.

– The process by which the latent thoughts become manifest content is called the development of the dream.

– As for the interpretation of dreams, it is defined, in Freud, as the search for latent and unconscious thoughts of the dream, and that through the mediation of dream content manifest.

But actions are missed, too, a royal road access to the unconscious: Freud called this way countless acts of daily life that miss their target and betray an unconscious intention.

– So it is with these lapses, broken objects … which are not unimportant and have a meaning, inner meaning.

Freud appears as a thinker who tried to register the meaning, intelligibility, where occur, apparently, inconsistency and confusion.

Just as the dream and the act failed, the neurotic symptom formation is analyzed as actualized instead of something that could otherwise arise. Neurosis is not mere accident or inconsistency, but expression of a process.

Freud and the theory of instincts:

From 1920, Freudianism has seen new developments. Freud introduced, indeed, in his research, the guiding concepts that led to another theory of personality and human impulses.

Regarding the mental structure of the psychic apparatus, Freud distinguished from 1920, the id, ego and superego.

– The psychic apparatus, structural arrangement of the inner life of the individual, first conceived by Freud as a form of conscious, preconscious, and unconscious, is now described as follows:

► The oldest provincial psychic named after it, a sort of reservoir of all the unconscious impulses that drive us.

► Its content includes everything that makes being at birth.

► The ego means the part of the character providing the conscious functions.

► Finally, the superego represents an internalization of parental prohibitions, a power “interdictrice” whose ego is obliged to consider.

– The human being suffers, in fact, throughout his childhood, a long length expresses the superego.

Freud not only developed this new theory of personality, but from the same period, he developed the concept of the duality of drives or instincts, forces acting in the background and needs of that representative in the psychiatric, somatic order requirements.

Drives mean, Freud, dynamic processes from the unconscious and consisting of a push by the agency to reach a goal.

Freud, in 1920, admits the existence of two basic instincts: the death instincts and impulses of life (the most controversial part of his work).

– The first aim of bringing all that lives in the inorganic state, whereas the latter tend to establish a unity by force of Eros, Love.

– Thus, an opposition Eros / Thanatos (Love / Death) now involves the psychoanalytic theory in a new direction, away from the previous theoretical apparatus.

Libido (that is to say, the energy of the sexual drive) is capable, says Freud, to neutralize the forces of disintegration and destruction so powerful that the clinician had seen in action during the war 1914-1918.

That aggression (tendency to destroy the environment and the environment) as a threat to civilization, that is to say all of the works and organizations moving away from the animal state of our ancestors, that caught the attention of Freud from that era and it powerfully illuminated.

Psychoanalysis has shown us that man is not master of his own inner world: the unconscious psychic processes elude him. Moreover, powerful forces of death drive men’s actions. According to this analysis and theory, Freudianism has profoundly changed the conception of man and his psyche.

 Freud main’s Works :

– The Interpretation of Dreams (1899)

– Psychopathology of everyday life (1904)

– Totem and Taboo (1913)

– Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1917)

– Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920)

– Civilization and its Discontents (1929)

Further Readings :


Cite this article as: Tim, "Sigmund Freud’s Theories, June 15, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, June 15, 2012,

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