Dr. Sigmund Freud Introduction (02:05)
View footage of Freud describing how he began his psychoanalysis practice. His ideas on the unconscious mind challenged taboos and social conventions in the 19th century, and remain controversial today.
Freud's Early Childhood (02:51)
Freud was born in Austria-Hungary in 1856 to Jewish parents. When his father's wool business failed, the family moved to Vienna in 1860—a cosmopolitan, liberal city of immigrants.
Freud's Education (02:25)
Freud's family settled in Vienna's Jewish district. His parents supported his studies; he was inspired by ancient civilizations. In 1873, he joined the natural science department at Vienna University, where he nurtured a scientific world view.
Freud's Courtship (02:33)
Freud and Martha Bernays exchanged hundreds of letters that reveal a passionate relationship. In an early form of psychoanalysis, he insisted on discussing their disagreements. He began studying medicine to raise money for their engagement.
Cocaine Experimentation (02:41)
In 1884, Freud wrote to Martha about self-treating depression. It led him to study neurology in Paris. Many women were institutionalized at Salpêtrière for hysteria, a general diagnosis for nervous symptoms.
Hysteria Research (02:00)
In Paris, Freud studied with Jean-Martin Charcot, who diagnosed hysteria through hypnosis. The experience showed Freud that different modes of thinking and activity occurred in the mind simultaneously.
Developing Psychoanalysis (03:54)
Freud opened his Vienna practice at age 29. He and Josef Breuer used hypnosis to treat Anna O. for hysteria symptoms by unlocking suppressed childhood memories. Freud applied Breuer’s “talking” therapy to patients while they lay on his famous couch.
Seduction Theory (03:17)
Breuer and Freud published "Studies on Hysteria" in 1895. Freud began researching links between sex and neuroses, supported by sexual identity scholar Wilhelm Fliess. In 1896, Freud's idea that childhood sexual abuse was responsible for neuroses was met with skepticism; he later admitted it was flawed.
Unconscious Mind (02:01)
Freud took a systematic approach to studying how and why unpleasant childhood memories are repressed. His father's death in 1896 opened his past and catalyzed his dream analysis.
"The Interpretation of Dreams" (02:48)
Freud identified latent dream thoughts containing repressed desires that become censored upon waking. He used dreams to understand patients' unconscious wishes and identities.
Freudian Slip (02:29)
Experimental art expressed middle class Viennese anxiety, explored the subconscious, and matched Freud's theories. In "Psychopathology of Everyday Life," he argued that repressed desires infiltrate our waking life. Freud collected ancient artifacts to illustrate the past's presence in everyday life.
Oedipus Complex (02:27)
A performance of Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex" inspired Freud to interpret his repressed sexual feelings. He believed young boys suffered hidden fears of castration by their fathers as punishment for desiring their mothers; girls felt inferior due to "penis envy." This developed into adult neuroses.
Dora Case Study (02:13)
In 1900, Freud tested his Oedipus complex theory on a 17-year-old female patient exhibiting hysteria symptoms. He believed she repressed sexual desire for a friend of her father. He learned the importance of patients transferring feelings onto psychoanalysts.
"Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality" (03:35)
Freud’s supposed scientific method relied on subjective judgments. In 1902, he invited four Jewish doctors to discuss the psychological impact of smoking. Weekly meetings helped him to develop an enlarged concept of sexuality. Hear an explanation of his controversial ideas on libido in children and adults.
Jung and Freud (02:36)
Freud feared that antisemitism would discredit his ideas. Carl Jung promoted his psychosexual doctrine, but reinterpreted libido to mean all mental energy and questioned his Oedipus complex; they parted acrimoniously.
Death Drive (03:28)
Freud's theory that neuroses were psychological, rather than physical, helped identify shell shock as an emotional trauma during World War I. Personal loss caused him to include self-destruction, as well as sexuality, as an impetus for domination.
Freud proposed that the mind was comprised of the Id, containing death and sexual drives, and the Superego, a moral guardian. Between them lay the Ego. The pleasure seeking postwar generation embraced his ideas.
Fleeing Vienna (03:26)
Freud's international popularity helped him escape during the Nazi takeover. A trunk in the Freud Museum contains a jewelry box that he gave to Martha—a piece of his personal past.
End of Life (02:18)
At age 82 in 1938, Freud escaped Vienna for London. He suffered jaw cancer but refused to stop smoking cigars. He continued to see patients until his assisted suicide in 1939.
Impact of Psychoanalysis (02:22)
Freud's ideas gave people permission to be "abnormal" in the 20th century and increased acceptance of sexuality variety; some of his theories are considered unscientific. Neuroscience has shown that most mental computation occurs subconsciously; memory is physically stored in the brain.
Freud's Cultural Influence (03:16)
Advertisers use psychoanalytic tools to appeal to our irrational desires. We also place importance on childhood experiences and emotional complexity. Freud’s ashes rest in an urn symbolizing sex, lust, death, and mania. He inspired us to try to master our psyches.
Credits: Freud: Genius of the Modern World (00:37)
Credits: Freud: Genius of the Modern World
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