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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Introduction to Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939): He was born to Jewish parents in Moravia, now in Czech Republic. His later moved with his family to Vienna, where he got education and eventually secured a medical degree in psychiatry in1881. Within a year his interest turned towards the study of nervous diseases. He has since been credited with the development of new courses. He is one of the rare men who is both a Doctor and a philosopher.

Freud wrote Civilization and its Discontents in 1929. In it he talks about how the civilization and the individual have some fundamental tensions which cause friction. He points out that people crave for individuality and freedom while society/ civilization stresses on containing repression of instincts. Freud says that humans have some instincts which are characteristic to them like desire for sex, predisposition towards violence etc.

In this work he talks about 'the pleasure principle' and 'the reality principle'. He says that the pleasure principle is subordinated to the reality principle. He says that our ego (consciousness) wants to stay away from displeasure and try and achieve happiness but along the course does submit itself to reality. He calls this as sublimation, i.e. subordinating pleasure to reality.

However, because pleasure has been sublimated does not mean that it is no longer retained within us.  There remain many desires which are unfulfilled and settle in the unconscious. Yet they will find some way to be expressed. They cannot be repressed forever. They will find expression in one way or the other.

These 'other' ways which Freud suggests are: dreams, parapraxis and jokes.

1.      Dreams – according to Freud are some form of wish fulfillment. Repressed feelings and unfulfilled desires find an expression through these. They are attempts by the unconscious to resolve the conflict within it. He elaborates on this more in his essay Interpretation of Dreams.

2.      Parapraxes – are the slips of the tongue. It is more famously known as 'the Freudian slip'. Freud says that the slip of the tongue is quite real as it is the true expression of some repressed feeling. It is an outlet for unfulfilled desires. For eHe expands on this concept in his work, Psychopathology of Everyday life.

3.      Jokes – are another form of expression for what is subdued in the unconscious. Jokes have tendencies towards hidden meanings, hidden purpose etc.  He talks more about this in Jokes and their relation to the Unconscious.



Habib, M. A. R. A History of Literary Criticism: From Plato to the Present. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. Print.

"Sigmund Freud." Wikipedia. Web. 23 Jan 2014.

Thornton, Stephen. "Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p.. Web. 23 Jan 2014.

Pinto, Anil. "Introduction to Freud and Psychoanalysis." Class lecture and discussions. Christ University. India, Bangalore. 20 01 2014. Lecture.


(Prepared by Ranjhani Iyer – 1324131)

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