5The Man Called Freud

5.1 Knowledge of Psychoanalysis

Without doubt the most famous psychiatrist ever to have lived was Sigmund Freud. Along with Marx and Darwin, it was the ideas of this German‐speaking psychiatrist that did most to shape how people in the 20th and probably the 21st centuries see themselves. He remains, to this day, the most quoted of all psychologists or psychiatrists.

Freud changed the way we think and talk about ourselves. Many of his basic ideas have been popularized, and terms from his theories, like anal, obsessional, phallic symbol or penis envy, have bubbled down into everyday language.

Freud was a highly original thinker, without doubt one of the greatest of the 19th century. He developed a highly controversial theory, indeed theories, about personality development, mental health, and illness.

Many books have been written about Freud and some have sought to apply his own ideas to understanding the man. Thus Osborne (1993) notes that there are four complicated and significant things about Freud’s childhood:

  1. His mother adored him and always knew he would be great.
  2. His father was not a success, producing hardship and trauma.
  3. His family was Jewish in an anti‐Semitic culture.
  4. All his extended family wanted him to do well, encouraging him to be ambitious.

These factors were to shape Freud’s outlook in significant ways. Indeed, many people argue that Freud’s work and his own psychological make‐up are inseparable.

Osborne (1993) goes on to suggest there were ...

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