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Historical Figure in Psychology


One of the most recognizable characters in the history of psychology is Sigmund Freud. He was a medical doctor, a physiologist, and a psychologist. He is known in the world as the father of psychoanalysis and is regarded as one of the most authoritative and influential minds in the field of psychology. His contributions to the concept of psychoanalysis are considered his most significant contribution to the study of psychology.


He was born in the Czech Republic, in Moravia on 6the May 1856. He was a first-born to his mother, who was the second wife of Freud’s father. His family relocated to Vienna when he reached the age of four. His family was Jewish.

He showed signs of intellect and brilliance at an early age. Therefore, upon reaching the appropriate age, he enrolled in a medical school. His professor of physiology, Ernst Brucke, had a massive influence on him during his studies. He researched reductionism under Brucke and attempted to reduce personality to neurology. However, he ultimately gave up.

Still, his hard work and extensive research in the field of neurophysiology led to the invention of the technique of cell staining. However, due to limited availability of positions, he, with the assistance of Brucke, went on to study using hypnosis with hysterics with Charcot, an excellent psychiatrist. However, after a limited time acting as a neurology resident in the city of Berlin, he came home and started a neuropsychiatry practice with the assistance of Joseph Breuer.


His most significant contribution to the field of psychology is the theory of psychoanalysis. The theory and the books written by Freud resulted in great fame for him. However, at the same time, his work also generated various criticisms.

He created a vast number of theories and psychological concepts throughout his life. He is credited with popularizing the idea of conscious mind vs. the unconscious. The conscious is the things that the mind is aware of, whereas the unconscious involves the thought or feelings not readily available upon recall. Freud considered the motivations as the result of the unconscious.

Another significant contribution of Freud to the field psychology is the theory of the id, the ego, and the superego. According to him, the nervous system of a child is not as complicated as a grown individual. He named it “id.” This id is responsible for the manifestation of the needs of a human, known as the primary process. An example can be a crying baby due to feeling hungry, even though she does not know the reason for her discomfort.

The ego stems from the id and results in the individual searching for means to satisfy her desires raised by her id. It was identified as the secondary process by Freud. The ego is the source of happiness for the individual and is responsible for keeping the record of the punishments and rewards.

The next is the superego. However, it forms only when the child has reached the minimum age of seven. It has two different aspects, the conscious and the ego ideal. The internalization of warnings and punishments is performed by the conscious, whereas the positive motivations and rewards are the source of the ego ideal. The requirements of the superego are communicated to the ego with the feelings of shame, guilt or pride.

Furthermore, Freud also paid attention to the aspect of anxiety. It results from the conflicting demands made on the ego. Freud classified it into three forms, the moral, the realistic and the neurotic. Another important concept introduced by Freud was the Oedipal crisis. He considered the love between the baby and the mother as the primary form of love. The boy is sexually attracted to her mother and believes his father the enemy. As the boy gradually grows, he realizes that he is different from the girls as he has a penis. It results in the formation of the castration anxiety. However, as he recognizes his father as being superior, he redirects his sexual impulses towards other girls. Freud considered the females going through the same process.


Sigmund Freud is undoubtedly one of the most influential personalities in psychology. His theory of psychoanalysis and the concepts of id, ego, and superego form the basis of the modern study of psychology. However, some of his work, especially his theory of the Oedipal complex, has been the source of massive critics. He is credited with the popularity of basic therapy that is still used today by psychiatrists.



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