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Psychoanalysis

The Psychology of Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis.

Sigmund Freud (front left) was invited to give a series of lectures on psychoanalytic theory at Clark University in 1909.

Up to this point, early psychology stressed conscious human experience. An Austrian physician named Sigmund Freud changed the face of psychology in a dramatic way, proposing a theory of personality that emphasized the importance of the unconscious mind. Freud’s clinical work with patients suffering from hysteria and other ailments led him to believe that early childhood experiences and unconscious impulses contributed to the development of adult personality and behavior.

In his book The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Freud detailed how these unconscious thoughts and impulses are expressed, often through slips of the tongue (known as "Freudian slips") and dreams. According to Freud, psychological disorders are the result of these unconscious conflicts becoming extreme or unbalanced. The psychoanalytic theory proposed by Sigmund Freud had a tremendous impact on 20th-century thought, influencing the mental health field as well as other areas including art, literature and popular culture. While many of his ideas are viewed with skepticism today, his influence on psychology is undeniable.

Next: The Rise of Behaviorism

Further Reading:
The Psychoanalytic School of Thought
More About Sigmund Freud

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