Was Sigmund Freud a twisted, deranged, sexual pervert with no evidence to support his theories? Or was he a competent physician, an effective theorist, and a creative professional exploring and developing new concepts? The answer to these questions is yes. He was a competent physician and theorist, and he was a neurotic drug addict and was probably psychologically disturbed sexually. Ferris (1997) explains Freud as having "a fluttering heart and burning pains in the chest, which made him into a hypochondriac; he was taking cocaine and smoking heavily; aged thirty-nine, he was convinced he would be dead at fifty-one, a date that had mysterious significance. He knew he was neurotic (p. 7). Bych (1974) quotes Freud himself: "A few minutes after taking cocaine, one experiences a sudden exhilaration and a feeling of lightness" (p. 58), then he goes on to explain physiological symptoms in the palate. Here's Ferris again who writes, "Long after Freud's death his daughter Anna, the guardian of his memory, was encouraging friends to keep quiet about the cocaine story. Ernest Jones wrote about Freud's habit but played
down its extent. In a private letter of 1952 to James Strachey, Freud's translator, he said that ‘the way Freud thrust the cocaine on everybody must have made him quite a menace . . . he was only interested in the magical effects of the drug, of which he took too much himself' (p. 59).
I've established peremptorily that Freud was a neurotic cocaine user. Now check out what else Ferris has to say concerning Freud's sexuality: "A series of dreams, forty years after the events he hoped to recall, was devoted to her. Freud concluded that the servant had been ‘my teacher in sexual matters', though he failed to explain what he meant" (p. 16). Ferris also quotes Freud concerning sexual perversion: "Unfortunately, my own father was one of these perverts and is responsible for the hysteria of my brother (all of whose symptoms are identifications) and those of several younger sisters (p. 135).
Bettelheim (1983) informs us that for years Freud had lived in virtual seclusion, largely because of the development of a cancer of the mouth which caused him great pain (introduction). The pain he was in required attention; consequently, he became addicted to morphine and Cocaine. Pain and drugs can, and often do transform the mental and emotional balances of the mind.
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian physician who, among other things, developed psychoanalyses. He won recognition as a great psychological leader, and was the first to map the subconscious world of the human mind. Freud also listed three main forces in a human's life: the id, an instinctive force; the ego, an executive force that contacts the world of reality; and the super ego, the superior disciplinary force. He conceived the Oedipus complex--the subconscious sexual attachment a child has to the parent of the opposite sex. This is where so many people think Freud was crazier than most of his patients, because none of us like to think of ourselves, or our children, as having thoughts of incest. Psychologist Karen Horney, however, felt it was neither normal nor universal, and that when it does occur, it is a neurotic relationship fostered by provocative behavior on the part of the parent. Freud also emphasized the importance of sex overall in human behavior.
Holt states that the idea has gone abroad that the term 'Freudian' is somehow synonymous with 'sexual,' and that to read Freud's own works would be fairly to immerse oneself in the licentious and the illicit. This belief, which makes the mention of Freud so alluring to some and so disconcerting to others, is as ill-founded as it is widespread (p. vi).
Sigmund Freud stirred the emotions of many people--past and present, but the fact remains that his contribution to the field of psychology is extensive, which should arouse anyone's imagination concerning where psychology would be today without his contribution. It is the opinion of many, even some of Freud's fellow psychologists, that some of his theories were warped and demented. Maybe they were, but it cannot be dismissed that he made a significant contribution to the field of psychology, and many of those very theories inspired the groundwork for reams of psychological material available to us today.
Having many other accomplishments to his credit, it was, and still is, difficult to discount Freud's theories, even on sexuality: After the publication of Studies in Hysteria in 1885 in which Freud collaborated with a man named Breuer, he turned to the analysis of dreams, and in 1900 (1899 actually, but he wanted the copyright date to read 1900) he published Interpretation of Dreams. Except for his collaboration with Breuer, Freud, for more than a decade, stood completely isolated from the medical community, and when not completely ignored, his theories were the object of ridicule. It was not until 1902 that several young doctors began to gather around him with the intention of learning and practicing psychoanalysis, and from this group grew the Viennese Psycho-Analytic Society. By 1908 Freud had colleagues throughout Europe, including Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Brill, Ferenczi, Ernest Jones, Sadger, Stekel, and Wilhelm Reich. In that same year the first International Congress of Psycho-Analysis was held at Salzburg. In the following year, at the invitation of Clark University, Freud visited the United States and gave five lectures on his discoveries, which were later published as the Origin and Development of Psycho-Analysis.
Here is a quote from one of Freud's lectures:
One thing, at least, I may pre-suppose that you know--namely, that psychoanalysis is a method of medical treatment for those suffering from nervous disorders; and I can give you at once an illustration of the way in which psycho-analytic procedure differs from, and often reverses, what is customary in other branches of medicine. Usually, when we introduce a patient to a new form of treatment, we minimize its difficulties and give him confident assurances of its success. This is, in my opinion, perfectly justifiable, for we thereby increase the probability of success. But when we undertake to treat a neurotic psychoanalytically, we proceed otherwise. We explain to him the difficulties of the method, its long duration, the trials and sacrifices which will be required of him; and, as to the result, we tell him that we can make no definite promises, that success depends upon his endeavors, upon his understanding, his adaptability and his perseverance. We have, of course, good reasons, into which you will perhaps gain some insight later on, for adopting this apparently perverse attitude" (The Great Books of the Western World-- Freud. p. 449).
With the establishment of the International Psycho-Analytic Association in 1910, Freud devoted his efforts with increasing success to the development of the psycho-analytic movement. Disagreement later led to a severance of relations between Freud and several of his closest associates, including Adler, Stekel, Rank, and Jung, but Freud was the acknowledged founder of psychoanalysis and the leader of the movement. So, as previously stated, some of Freud's colleagues felt he was off track with some of his theories.
Bettleheim (19183) asserts that the English translations of Freud's writings not only distort some of his central concepts, but actually make it impossible for the reader to recognize that Freud's ultimate concern was man's soul, the basic element of our common humanity. And it is shown that these translations, by masking much of the essential humanism of Freud's work, have led to a tragic misunderstanding and widespread misuse of Freud's work.
Sigmund Freud was a valuable asset to the field of psychology, but some of his theories were viewed, and still are, less than reliable. Very possibly his physical affliction and pain and consequent drug addiction, not to mention is childhood issues with sexuality, contributed to some of his deviant theories. At any rate, everybody has the right to their own opinion, and mine is that psychology--for good or bad-- wouldn't be what it is today without the contribution and works of Sigmund Freud.
Adler, Mortimer J. (1952). The great books of the western world--Freud. Chicago: William Benton.
Bettelheim, Bruno. (1983). Freud and man's soul. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Bych, Robert. (1974). Cocaine papers: Sigmund Freud. New York: New American Library.
Ferris, Paul. (1997). Dr. Freud: A life. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint.
Holt, Edwin B. (1915). The Freudian Wish and It's Place in Ethics. New York: Henry Holt.
After 40 arrests, five formal probations, four country jail sentences, and a prison term (as a result of chemical dependency), I turned my life around. I was released from prison in Dec 1989, and have been clean and sober since. I started at Barstow College in Feb 1990. Received my AA degree in '92 from Barstow College in Barstow, CA; BA in '94 from Chapman University in Orange CA; MHS in 98 from National University in San Diego CA, and finished with a Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA in Feb 2004. I have taught as an adjunct instructor for Park University and Barstow College. I can be contacted through my website www.ScumbagSewerRats.com