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Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory Essay

1751 words - 7 pages

Sigmund Freud created strong theories in science and medicine that are still studied today. Freud was a neurologist who proposed many distinctive theories in psychiatry, all based upon the method of psychoanalysis. Some of his key concepts include the ego/superego/id, free association, trauma/fantasy, dream interpretation, and jokes and the unconscious. “Freud remained a determinist throughout his life, believing that all vital phenomena, including psychological phenomena like thoughts, feelings and phantasies, are rigidly determined by the principle of cause and effect” (Storr, 1989, p. 2). Through the discussion of those central concepts, Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis becomes clear as to how he construed human character.
Freud believed that human nature is basically deterministic, and largely dependent on the unconscious mind. Irrational forces and unconscious motivations drive the human mind to a unique conduct and performance. Freud believed the choices we make are determined by biological and instinctual drives. The purposes of instincts are for survival and aggression. In the field of psychiatry, Freud founded his type of psychoanalytic therapy on curing mental illnesses. The basis for Freud’s work on treating mental patients was on an illness called hysteria. One popular case that Freud began the majority of his work on was the Anna O. case. She suffered many symptoms from repressed ideas that were outwardly from no physical cause. Repression is a way of excluding unconscious desires, wishes, or unpleasant memories into the conscious mind by holding them in the unconscious mind. “According to Freud, repressed ideas often retained their power and were later expressed without the patient's awareness of them. Through psychoanalysis, many hysterical symptoms were relieved by helping the patient to become aware of and accept unconscious impulses and desires” (psychoanalysis, 2009). The reason behind the expression of hysteric symptoms in a mental patient, such as Anna O., is from the affect of an unpleasant memory that is not brought to the conscious mind. The conflict of repression is the explanation for physical symptoms seen in hysteria. Storr wrote, “In many instances, the physical symptom expressed the patient’s feelings in symbolic fashion. Thus, constriction in the throat might express an inability to swallow an insult; or a pain in the region of the heart might signify that the patient’s heart has been metaphorically broken or damaged” (1989, p. 13). This explains the multiple symptoms that Anna O. expressed in her case.
Freud continued his work on repression, memories, and past experiences of trauma to be the motive for all neurotic symptoms. Trauma in past experiences was not always the key determinant for hysteria cases, there needed to be another component for the cause. The combination of past trauma and present trauma awakened memories of the earlier trauma which constituted the true aggravation (Storr, 1989, p. 15)....

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