The book of life – psychotherapy. 34. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

The book of life – psychotherapy. 34. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
– Described himself as an obsessional neurotic
– landmark work was his 1900 book, “The Interpretation of Dreams”
– he Himself was often unhappy
– He was a workaholic
– He based psychoanalysis primarily on himself and his family
– He could be jealous of colleagues such as Carl Jung
– He had phobias about his death & when he would die
– Believe you cigarsmoking was a replacement for his earlier masturbation
– He believed the mind is “not even master in its own house”, governed by competing forces, some not even in conscious awareness
– The book of life believes he is worth reading still because Freud gives an account of how incredibly difficult it is to be a human being


– our lives begin being governed by “the pleasure principle” instinct alone
– as we grow older, our sub-conscious continues to be governed by this principle, & is “always infantile”
– as we grow older we govern ourselves by “the reality principle”, otherwise our lives would be chaotic & unproductive – we learn to control ourselves to gain socially acceptable pleasure
– for most of us though, this behaviour is a struggle & we unconsciously repress it
– He believed neuroses arose as a result between the id (literally the “it”) and the ego (the “I”) which rationally decides what we should do with the id., particularly when the ego struggles with the moralistic super-ego (the “over-I”)

– The time we learn different adaptations to our environment, “our reality” – for better or worse.
– oral phase – related to eating
– anal phase – potty training
– Freud believed the way our parents reacted to us as a child mattered a great deal
– phallic phase-


Freud was very pessimistic about the outcomes of therapy
– he wished to see clients 4x per week
– he believed they should be under 50 or else they would be too rigid
– he was pessimistic about outcomes believing people would leave still feeling miserable
– but he thought with work they could uncover their neuroses & better adjust to the difficulties of reality.

ANALYSIS in session included the following:

– He believed they were a chance for us to relax from the difficulties of being conscious, & to experience wish fulfilment
– a chance to escape from the moralistic super-ego
– he believed the moralistic super-ego suppressed & made us forget our dreams

2. PARAPRAXES or Slips of the Tongue

– again he believed them to be very revealing about ourselves & our relationships

– he believed humour could be very revealing
– his 1905 book, Wit & Its Relation to the Unconscious
– jokes allow us to gain pleasure in ways we otherwise never could
– also allows us to laugh at symbolic things such as the terrifying notion of ageing & death itself

– Dali was a huge fan, particularly with respect to his work about dreams & he visited Freud in 1938
– Freud thought art could express our neuroses
– the artist turns away from reality & moulds his own reality
– art allows the artist & the audience to escape the reality principle albeit briefly

Freud shows that many kinds of psychological problems are not so much abnormal illness, but actually part of the human condition & that we could all benefit from some form of therapy from time to time.



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