This article was originally published on May 6, 2022.
When we tell our friends about a crazy dream we had with them, or when we use terms like ego and free association, we are referring to Sigmund Freud.
More than 80 years after his death, Freud’s theories about the human unconscious and how it affects our behavior continue to permeate Western culture. Freud’s pioneering psychological theories, presented to the world at the turn of the 20th century, changed our understanding of the human mind. His theories have influenced not only psychological theory, but also the way we behave in everyday life, in the family and at work. life.
Freud’s psychoanalytic theory
Terms like sleep analysis, free association, Oedipus complexthe Freudian slip and the ubiquitous ego, and id and superegowoven into much of what we do, think and say.
1. Sleep analysis
In modern society, we often talk about our dreams. If you google “dream quotes” there seems to be an endless supply of them. From bestselling author Erma Bombeck’s joke, “It takes a lot of guts to show your dreams to someone else,” to the American rapper and actor, Tupac Shakur lyrics, “Reality is wrong. Dreams are real.” But it is Freud who reveals what a dream is – an alternative reality that we experience when we sleep.
“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind,” writes Freud.
Freud’s theory of dreams and his book The Interpretation of Dreams., were revolutionary. Before its publication in 1899, scientists considered dreams to be “meaningless”. Freud believed that dreams were “the disguised fulfillment of repressed childhood desires”.
While popular culture has taken Freud’s theories and applied their meaning – for example, dreams about flying mean that you are subconsciously thinking about ambition – Freud never wrote a dream dictionary. In fact, he shied away from such specifics. He insisted that although dreams are symbolic, they are specific to the individual and cannot be defined in general for the entire society.
2. Free association
Freud’s dream theories directly influenced his free association theory. Based on the theory that dreams and their meanings are individual, Freud allowed his patients to interpret their dreams for themselves, instead of giving them their own opinion. He called his process free association. With each new feature of a dream during a psychoanalytic session, Freud suggested that his patients relax and—to use a modern term—spit out what they thought it meant. Patients threw out ideas as they came, no matter how trivial they might be.
3. Reports on Freud
One of the most popular phrases from Freud’s theories: Freudian slip. He believed that a “slip of the tongue” – when we say something that we are not going to say – shows what we are thinking, subconsciously. Freud presented his theory of the Freudian slip in his 1901 book. Psychopathology of everyday life, and suggested that these verbal (and sometimes written) errors were rooted in “unconscious urges” and “unexpressed desires”. In addition, Freud believed that the inability to remember something – for example, someone’s address or name – is due to our need or desire to suppress it. Modern science has yet to explain why Freudian slips happen.
4. Oedipus complex, penis envy and womb envy
Experts believe Oedipus complex, psychosexual theory, as Freud’s most controversial theory. According to Freud, this is an unconscious desire that begins at the phallic stage of development, between the ages of three and six. The child is sexually attracted to its parent of the opposite sex and is jealous of its parent of the same sex.
Popular culture uses the Oedipus complex as a general term for the phase for both boys and girls. But Freud postulated that boys experience an Oedipus complex and girls an Electra complex. This is when a girl unconsciously becomes sexually attached to her father and is hostile to her mother.
Freud believed that the Oedipus complex was “the central phenomenon of the sexual period of early childhood”, but there is no scientific evidence to support his theory.
“Penis envy” grew out of Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex, and Freud published it in 1908. Freud believed that a woman’s realization that she does not have a penis leads to intense envy, which underlies female behavior.
“Freud claimed that the only way to overcome this penis envy was to have a child of his own, and even went so far as to suggest that he wanted a male child in his efforts to gain a penis,” the researcher writes. British Psychological Society. Psychoanalyst Karen Horney, a contemporary of Freud whose theories led to the feminist psychology movement, saw penis envy as purely symbolic.
Horney postulated that envy, not of the phallus itself, but of the envy of the penis, had more to do with a woman’s position in society and “the desire for social prestige and position that men experience.” Thus, women felt inferior because of the freedom and social status they lacked because of their gender, and not because of their literal lack of a phallus,” the author writes. British Psychological Society.
In addition, Horney introduces the term “womb envy” and explains that men are negatively affected by their inability to have children and envy the “biological functions of the female sex”, including breastfeeding and pregnancy.
5. Ego, Id and Superego
Somebody think human psyche as the most enduring psychoanalytic theory in Freud’s career. Freud published his personality theory in 1923, which hypothesizes that the human psyche is divided into three parts – the ego, the id, and the superego. And they all develop at different stages of our lives. It is important to note that Freud believed that these are not physical objects in our brains, but rather “systems”.
While the word “ego” is used much more frequently in popular culture than “id” and “superego”, the three are related. According to Freud, the id is the most primitive part of the human psyche. This is the basis of our sexual and aggressive urges. The superego is our moral compass, and the ego is the judge, if you will, between the pulls of the id and the superego.
Freud’s psychological theories remain in our subconscious and consciousness
The next time you wake up from a strange dream that you can tell your best friend in detail, he will respond: “Oh, snakes? This dream is all about penis envy.” Or your boss yells at you and you mutter under your breath, “Too ego.” Or you are killing time on a long car ride and throwing away words and free associations – you have to thank Freud. And, if you’re looking for a reason to pay tribute to Freud and all of his contributions to our folk, pop culture and therapy, consider raising a toast to the father of psychoanalysis. He was born on May 6, 1856.