Who Is Sigmund Freud?
Hello, and welcome to this video about Sigmund Freud. In this video, we’ll outline Freud’s life and his foundational contributions to psychoanalysis, particularly his theories on the conscious and unconscious mind; the id, ego, and superego; and the psychosexual stages of development.
Let’s get started.
Who is Sigmund Freud?
Sigmund Freud, born on May 6, 1856, in Moravia, was a standout student from a young age. His academic journey led him to the University of Vienna at 17, where he studied medicine. Excelling in his studies, Freud’s early life was marked by intellectual curiosity and a strong foundation in science, setting the stage for his later groundbreaking work in psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis was an early approach to psychotherapy in which an individual’s conscious and unconscious mind are examined and interpreted in order to identify motivations and understand human behavior. While he did not invent the concept of conscious vs. unconscious, his studies of the concept made it more widely known.
Freud believed there were three parts of the conscious: the conscious mind, the preconscious mind, and the unconscious mind.
He defined the conscious mind as anything you are aware of at any particular moment: your present perceptions, memories, thoughts, fantasies, feelings, etc.
The preconscious mind is anything that can be made conscious through recollection or reminders. While one may not be presently thinking of these things, they can easily recall them to their conscious mind from their preconscious mind.
Freud spent the most time studying the unconscious mind, which includes anything that is not easily available to the conscious but still may dictate human behaviors, motivations, and reactions. This includes internal instincts, thoughts, memories, and emotions.
Psychoanalytic theory postulates that all humans have instincts to satisfy their needs for food, shelter, and warmth. Satisfaction of these instincts produces pleasure and leads to the development of the survival instinct and sexual drives, which Freud referred to as libido.
The Id, Ego, and Superego
Freud studied the motivations of human behavior and identified three components contributing to those behaviors: the id, the ego, and the superego.
Freud referred to the most basic primitive instincts and needs as the id. The id works to maintain the pleasure principle, which can be understood as a demand to take care of needs immediately. Opposing the id is the superego, which provides a sense of what is right versus wrong, as determined by early childhood experiences and societal definitions. The ego, the third component that is most strongly manifested in one’s personality, lies between the two extremes in an attempt to balance primitive instincts with moral restraints.
There are two different aspects to the superego: the conscience and the ego ideal. The conscience is what internalizes punishments and warnings for things that are considered “bad.” The ego ideal (also referred to as the ideal self) internalizes the rewards for things that are “good.” These drive the restraints that the superego places on the id, resulting in the ego.
Freud also contributed theories to human development. He believed that the majority of human development occurs during childhood through five stages, known as his psychosexual stages of development. Each of these stages has both pleasure and tension associated with it, and it is how the individual reconciles those elements that determines their course of development.
The five stages are as follows:
- Oral Stage – from 0 to 1 years old
- Anal Stage – from 1 to 3 years old
- Phallic Stage – from 3 to 6 years old
- Latency Stage – from 6 years old to puberty
- Genital Stage – from puberty to death
Freud referred to incomplete development at any stage as fixation.
The stages are based on Freud’s belief that the child focuses on different areas of the body in each stage. These areas are known as erogenous zones and include the mouth, anus, and genitals. The id is a manifestation of the basic sexual urges, and the ego and superego are developed through these stages as the child learns to control their sexual impulses.
Freud’s Oedipal crisis occurs during these stages as well, most specifically the Phallic stage, when the child starts to feel a subconscious draw toward the opposite-sex parent and jealousy toward the same-sex parent. This resolves as the child then starts to relate more to their same-sex parent as a way of reconciling their affection for their opposite-sex parent.
While Freud’s approach to psychoanalysis has become antiquated, his early studies of human motivation and behavior laid a foundation for modern psychotherapy and psychology.
That’s all for this video. Thanks for watching, and happy studying!