Life and Work of Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud’s Early Life

On May 6, 1856 Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia. At four years old his family moved to Vienna where he worked and lived for the rest of his life. Freud’s schooling took place at home during his early years. Eventually he entered a German Grammar school where he was always very interested in his studies and he was the top student of the class for a straight seven years. He was strongly encouraged by his parents to do well and achieve his goals. At 17 he attended the University of Vienna as a medical student. The reason he entered medical school was because he thought he would be just like a scientist who is compared to a truth seeker in his mind. He did like the fact that he would be involved in work that can help humanity but that wasn’t his purpose for entering medical school. Medicine was never his passion because he was more interested in research.

The Id, Ego, & Superego Theory

Freud came up with many theories for why people act the way they do. His personality theory saw the psyche in 3 parts. He explains that there are steps that we must go through in life in order to be mentally healthy. One of his theories explains that in our mind we might want a cookie before our meal when we know that the right thing to do is to not eat it. There are 3 names for this id, ego, and super-ego.

Id is part of the unconscious which makes us not really aware. It is basically part of our survival which makes us want to eat, breathe, sleep. The Id can also be very aggressive when wedon’t get what we need for survival. A newborn child would show most Id because they cry if they are hungry or cry whenever they need something. The ego and super-ego doesn’t develop until the child is much older. The Id always wants to be satisfied completely regardless of consequences. When the id achieves something and is satisfied, we start to feel pleasure from it but when it isn’t satisfied we might feel upset or tension.

The ego is where the mind starts to reason and make decisions unlike id where everything is not fully thought of. The ego focuses on reality and how to not make bad decisions to a point where we face the negative consequences. Just like the id, ego strives for pleasure but not in an unreasonable way. There is no right or wrong for ego because something is good if achieves satisfaction in a way that it did not cause harm to itself. There was an analogy made by Freud where the ego is the rider and the id is the horse. If a plan does not go right through ego then it does not stop until a right decision has been formed. This helps a person to practice self- control and think rationally.

Super-ego has some of society’s morals which is usually taught from our parents, teachers etc. The super-ego can make someone feel bad for doing things that they shouldn’t do by making them feel guilt. When the ego gives in to what the id wants then the super-ego will come in and try to do its job by having us rethink. Sometimes we might even be rewarded by our super-ego when we listen to it and do the right thing.

Some people might disagree with Freud and say that there is no such thing as Id, ego and super-ego because none of this is genuinely scientific and that these are just philosophical ideas that he based upon experience and not scientific evidence. However, even though his idea wasn’t based on scientific evidence I find that the ideas of id, ego, and super-ego very interesting. For me it’s like seeing how our brain thinks and the steps it goes through before making a decision whether it’s right or wrong. It’s the process of it that makes me interested.

Psychosexual Stages

In 1905, Freud proposed some psychosexual stages that takes place in childhood. The different stages are oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. Freud makes it clear that the first 5 years of a person’s life is the most crucial in order to create the adult mentality. With each psychosexual stage, something needs to be fixed in order for the person to move on to the next stage.

The oral stage which is usually from age 0-1 is the very first stage of development. A baby is usually satisfied putting things in his/ her mouth like their thumb, a bottle, or anything near them. According to Freud oral fixation could happen later in life. For example, we might bite our nails when stressed or smoke.

The anal stage (1-3) Freud describes that the libido is focused on bowel movements. At this age a child is toilet training and it teaches them more about how to take care of their body’s needs. It gives the child a sense of independence and responsibility for their own body. According to Freud, if parents teach their kids well and in a positive way then the child will feel productive. However, if the parents are making the child feel bad about their accidents then it will be a negative outcome.

The phallic stage (3-6) during this phase children are focused on their genitals. They start to learn about the differences between males and females. Freud believed that at an early age boys start to get jealous of their father for spending time with their mother. They would usually try to get rid of the father in order to spend time with their mom. This is what Freud calls the Oedipus complex. Electra complex describes the same feelings but with girls feelings towards their mother. They want to get closer to their father. He also believed that girls experience penis envy where she envies the realization that she doesn’t have a penis. Freud believed that this is the stage that women remained fixated on even through their later years. This is something I disagree with because penis envy is probably such a short period of a woman’s younger life that doesn’t stick with her all the time. It is just a realization that she is different from a male. It is not something that she will grow up with and remain fixated on. Psychologist Karen Horney called this theory demeaning to women. She states that some men might feel inferior because they cannot give birth. She referred to this concept as womb envy. Eckardt, Marianne H. (2005). Karen Horney: A Portrait. American Journal of Psychoanalysis

The Latent period (6 to puberty) children start to develop skills and communicate with peers, family, and even people outside the family.

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Life and Work of Sigmund Freud. (2022, Nov 30). Retrieved July 20, 2024 , from

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