The beginning of the twentieth century was a fascinating time for modern man. Artists, musicians, novelists, inventors, and scientists were reveling on new ways of experiencing life. The shadows of the past and the dawn of the new era opened the minds of many who relished constant change. Science and medicine were evolving, and one man in particular sought to expand knowledge and understanding. Sigmund Freud, the most renowned, thought provoking psychologist to have ever lived, opened an exciting chapter in the study of the mind. Without a doubt, Freud had influenced, and inspired artists searching for something new. The world of psychology and art were interweaving and promising a bold new path.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) studied medicine, science, and philosophy as an introduction to the study of the human mind. Freud desired to have a thorough understanding of the inner workings of the conscious and subconscious condition. It was noted, “Sigmund would become thoroughly absorbed in his research, so much so…he couldn’t stop wanting to study”. (Masson, The Life of Simund Freud) He graduated high school in 1873, and received a doctorate degree in 1881.
Freud was enamored with all specialties of science, and conducted research and experiments with notable scientists of the late nineteenth century. Freud’s first foray into psychiatric medicine was in 1883 studying neuropathy. Soon afterwards, he studied hypnosis. Freud’s enthusiasm to decipher the mysteries within the mind was unmatched, and psychology was being rejuvenated.
Known today as the founder of psychoanalysis, Freud wrote a monumental and highly criticized book, The Interpretation of Dreams. Started eight years prior to its publication in 1900, the study was part autobiographical, part case histories, and a great deal of self-analysis. Freud asserted, “dreams relate point-for-point to the dreamer’s past and present life, but their elements’ meanings must be unlocked via free association rather than by decoding each symbol out of some kind of dream-dictionary”. (Masson, The Life of Sigmund Freud) Interpreting dreams was a fascinating new field of study, and attracted a great deal of various personalities.
Sigmund Freud published another controversial book in 1920 titled, Beyond the Pleasure Principle. He explained the driving forces behind every action of human behavior. First, there is a basic need to obtain pleasure and support life. Second, the mind is afraid of pain and death. This new theory superseded the previous theory stating that one’s “libido” remained in conflict with one’s “ego”. Freud declared that the “id, one’s amoral primal instincts, governs a desire for pleasure, for instant gratification, and the fear of pain…the ego on the other hand, rational will, accepts that enduring pain or deferring pleasure may be a necessary means to a positive end, and functions as mediator between the id and the world”. (Freud) This idea is commonly referred to as the “reality theory”....