The Life of Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis

The life of Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis

In this article, The Life of Sigmund Freud and Psychoanlaysis, you will learn about Freud’s early life and one of the most important theoies of psychology.

The life of Sigmund Freud:

Sigmund Freud is an Australian neurologist born in 1856. Sigmund Freud is also known as “the father of modern psychology”.

Freud’s father was a strict and authoritarian parent. He felt so much hostility and anger towards him at a mere age of 2. Freud’s mother was very attractive and protective of her first son Freud. HIs attachment towards his mother, including sexual attachment, set the stage for his concept of oedipus complex.

Sigmund Freud has fostered a high level of intelligence from his parents. He taught himself Italian and Spanish. 

Among many of his interests like reading Shakespeare, and military history, he chose his medicine to pursue as his career.

Sigmund Freud has also written a book “The Interpretation of Dreams” which is published in 1899.


Introduction to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis:

The process of bringing information from unconscious into conscious awareness in order to induce catharsis. This is also one of the main goal of psychoanalytic therapy.

Catharsis is an emotional release that brings relief from psychological distress. 

Psychoanalytic strategies such as dream analysis and free association are used to bring information from unconscious to conscious.

After Sigmund Freud, his daughter Anna Freud created the field of child psychoanalysis. Her work is the great contribution to child psychology.


Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis states that:

  • unconscious drives influence a person’s behaviors
  • the conflict between conscience and unconscious mind is often the root cause of several emotional and psychological problems
  • people use defense mechanisms to protect themselves form information contained in the unconscious mind

Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis theories:

Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis theories contain conscious, preconscious and unconscious.

Conscious, preconsious and unconscious mind:


According to Sigmund Freud’s original conception our personality is divided into three levels: the conscious, the preconscious, and the unconscious. it can be best understood by the iceberg model, given by Sigmund Freud.

Our conscious mind is the limited aspect of our personality. Only a small amount of our thoughts, sensations and memories exist in our conscious awareness at one time.

Our preconscious mind holds things that can be brought to our conscious mind.

Whereas our unconscious mind has all the things outside of our conscious awareness like early childhood memories, secret desires, and hidden drives.



Sigmund Freud states that instincts are the motivating force that drives our behavior. Freud termed this concept as TRIEB which is a German term meaning a driving force or impulse. 


Mechanism of instincts:

When the body needs something, the person experiences a feeling of tension. The instinct then aims to satisfy the need to reduce the feeling of tension. 

for example: when our body is in need of food. The need for  hunger is aroused, and it creates a state of physiological excitation. Instinct is the driving force that motivates the person to behave in such a way that satisfies its need. for example: looking for food. the instinct is not the bodily state itself (the hunger). Rather, it is the body’s need transformed into a mental state, a wish.


Types of instincts:

There are two types of instincts:

  • the life instincts / Eros:

purpose is the survival of the individual and by seeking to satisfy the needs for food, water, air and sex

  • the death instincts / Thanatos: 

Death instinct is opposite to life instinct. Thanatos is the drive of aggression, destruction and death.


ID, ego and superego:



ID is what Sigmund Freud called a pleasure principle. The main concern of ID is tension reduction. The function of id is to increase pleasure and avoid pain. It strives for immediate satisfaction of its needs without any delays 

ID is a selfish, pleasure-seeking, insistent and primitive part of our personality. It has no awareness of reality, just like a newborn baby. A new born baby would cry to satisfy its need without the realization of reality.



Ego is aware of reality. It stands with the reality principle, unlike id that stands with pleasure principle.

It is Ego that keeps you doing work that you may not like, if the alternative is beneficial. For example, working extra hours, or doing a job that you may not like.

A person whose id is not under their control can be dangerous and we must protect ourselves from such people.



Superego is our idea of right and wrong. It’s the beliefs that we acquire in our childhood.

According to Freud, this moral side of ours is established by the age of 5 though praise, punishment, reward, and rules of conduct set down by our parents.

Our superego consists of two parts: conscience and ego-idea.

  • Conscience: indicate rules of bad behaviors. Those behaviors for which the children are punished form the conscience.
  • Ego-ideal: include rules of good behaviors, those behaviors for which the childrens were praised and rewarded from ego-ideal. Following these rules gives a feeling of satisfaction and pride.

Overall, the id urges for satisfaction towards our needs, while the ego tries to delay it, and superego urges morality above all.




One of the major criticisms of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is that his theories and assumptions cannot be tested, making it impossible to validate or falisfy.

Other criticisms include:

  • too much emphasis on childhood: according to Freud personality development takes place in childhood (till the age of 5). However, modern psychologists state that development is a lifelong process. 
  • One critic is that he emphasizes too much on biological factors like instincts and drives. Some studies refuse this fact stating that social experiences are more influential in shaping one’s personality.

Summary of the life of Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis:


In conclusion, Sigmund Freud is famous for his techniques of psychoanalytics. Though his theories receive criticism, it is still relevant today. They are commonly used in psychotherapy. 


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