Sigmund Freud's Theory of Self and Psychoanalysis

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Table of Contents

  • Early Life
  • Psychoanalysis
  • The Consciousness
    The Subconsciousness
    The Unconsciousness
  • Summary/Opinion

Early Life

Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856 to two Jewish parents, his mother Amelia Freud and his father Jacob Freud in a rented room over a blacksmith's shop in the small town of Freiberg in Moravia which is now part of the Czech Republic. Later they moved to Lezpig before finally moving permanently into Vienna. Freud’s father worked as a merchant but his son didn't follow in his father's footsteps. In 1873 when he was 19 years old at the University of Vienna. After graduating college he started working in Vienna General Hospital where he first started treating hysteria with the help of Josef Breuer by making patients recall painful memories through hypnosis. A process he later named Psychoanalysis (will be covered later in this report). Then in 1885 Freud traveled to Paris, France to start as a student of neurology underneath Jean Charcot. After returning from his excursion in Paris back to Vienna, Freud started his own practice. That year, and around that time, he made Martha Bernays his wife, who provided him six wonderful children.

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In 1897 Freud began analysing himself. Then from this analysis he published his largest work “The Interpretation of Dreams” in which he observed dreams as what he perceived to be unconscious experiences and desires. Two years later in 1902 Freud was appointed as the Professor of Neurology at the University of Vienna, the same university he attended earlier in his life, which he held until 1938. Then in 1923 Freud released another book named “The Ego and the Id” in which he introduced a new theory about the structure of the mind. In this new proposition he suggested that the brain was made up of 3 parts, the ego, superego, and the Id (this will be elaborated on further later in the report). In this same year Sigmund was diagnosed with cancer which was found in his jaw. Although he underwent many operations in an attempt to save his life were all in vain. Sigmund Freud died on September 30 1939. 3 Although Freud died his legacy did not leave with him. Sigmund Freud left behind at least 21 books not counting any that may have been burnt by the Nazis. Not only did he publish many successful books, but the theories he presented in them laid the groundwork for what we now know to be modern psychology.


Probably Freud’s most memorable theories on therapy was psychoanalysis. It is almost impossible to talk about Freud and exceedingly so about psychology as a study, without bringing up the topic of psychoanalysis. Freud explained in his pivotal theory of therapy as curing patients from their psychological problems by bringing their painful memories or desires to the surface providing insight and allegedly curing the patient. He proposed that the brain was made up of three parts: the consciousness, subconsciousness, and the unconsciousness. He demonstrated his new theory by using a diagram of an iceberg. The top of this iceberg was the consciousness.

The Consciousness

The consciousness is what Freud perceived to be what we could understand or are aware of. Some things that would fall under the consciousness may be, thoughts going through your mind, what's going on around you, or even the way you feel at that moment. In Freud's diagram the consciousness made the smallest part of the iceberg. This was represented as the peak of the iceberg, clearly seen and recognized.

The Subconsciousness

Just under the surface of Frued’s figurative ocean is the preconsciousness. The preconsciousness described by Frued is all the things that we are unaware of but could become aware of if we wanted to. Now that may sound complicated but in reality it is quite simple. preconsciousness consists of things like memories or opinions that we could bring to the front of our mind but we are not constantly thinking about. Maybe you don't think about your grandmother every day but you still remember her. That memory is part of your preconsciousness. However, let's say you see something that reminds you of her. The moment those memories come into your present thoughts they are part of the Consciousness and exit the preconsciousness. However the preconsciousness isn't just memories or opinions, it could be feelings that you harbor but only feel in certain circumstances or conversations. For instance, maybe someone said something to you that made you very angry. You might not feel it every day but maybe you hear about something about them and suddenly you burn with anger at them. Due to the nature of this section of the mind the preconsciousness is portrayed by Freud as part of the iceberg that lies just underneath the surface of the ocean, not always seen but possible to be seen if one looks.

The Unconsciousness

The unconsciousness is where Freud’s theoretical map of the brain becomes more and more controversial. The unconsciousness according to Freud is things we are unaware of and cannot become aware of. Such things include emotions, urges, and memories outside of our consciousness. Why would these things not show up in our consciousness? Freud presumed it was because these things may be too 5 painful to remember or in the case of emotions or urges, just unacceptable or taboo in our society. Such things may include things like secret sexually deviant desires, violent tendencies, or just strange irrational desires that don't make any sense whatsoever. However I won't go into detail on these things for fear of offending myself, anyone who reads this, and God himself.


Alongside Freud's three areas of consciousness he also theorized about what he called the psyche. In this psyche three agents reign. The Ego, Superego, and the Id.


The superego according to Freud is the part of the psyche that holds your morals. This is responsible for naming things you come across or even things you think about as right or wrong. It dictates your opinions on things and what you think is normal. In Freud's mind this is the voice in you head that tells you whether or not to do things. The angel and devil on your shoulder so to speak. Of course being a christian I disagree with him. I know that that voice is God guiding you into what is good and pleasing to him.


Freud's concept of the “Id” is essentially your instinct or drive to do things. However these things are all pleasure based. You eat because it satisfies your hunger and tastes good, you have intercourse because it feels good ect. In this theoretical pleasure based instinct system you are driven nothing but your desires and pleasure in order to reach the goal of satisfying the demands of the Id. Freud said that the Id was comprised of two instincts, eros and thanatos. The eros instinct was sexual drive and thanatos was 6 what you fear. To bring my beliefs into it again I feel that the “Id” is simply a sin nature that all humans have because of the fall. The thought that everything boils down to whether it will satisfy you sexually or stops your fears is immoral and to put it quite simply stupid. To consider these things a normal part of your personality is unacceptable.


Finally in Freud's proposed psyche is the ego. Supposably this is the part of the psyche that regulates the other parts of the psyche and deals with reality. Before anything happens the ego or the judge of your mind has to decide whether its a good idea. The ego however also deals with all of reality and your perception of it. The id may say that it desires something that your superego deems as wrong. In this case the ego weighs these things and decides whether or not to satisfy that desire. I will again inject my beliefs into this by saying that from a Christian viewpoint this is simply the part of you that decides whether or not to obey the flesh and what it wants or to listen to what God whispers to you about it. Deciding whether it’s worth condemnation.


Sigmund Freud was a very successful and intelligent man of science. His studies on psychology and neurology are quite intricate and intelligent. He wrote many books on his study of the human mind, some of which became and are very popular such as “The Ego and the Id,” and “The Interpretation of Dreams. ” His work laid the groundwork for modern psychological theory. He held a position as a professor of Neurology at the University of Vienna and was a very learned man studying at the University of Vienna and under Jean Charcot. He had a family of 7, including his wife and six kids. He lived a long life of 83 years until he died of cancer after 30 operations since he was diagnosed at age 67. In my 7 opinion, Sigmund Freud was in fact a great, and very intelligent, man. However I believe he, without proper knowledge of the Almighty, was very misguided. However brilliant his theories on the mind may have been, I believe they were wrong and driven by Freud’s impulsive personality and tendencies to do whatever he desired or lusted after. I believe he was entirely wrong on the subject of morals and that they are whatever society tells us. In fact I believe morality is God's gift to help keep us from sinning.

His theory that we are driven entirely by some inward sexual desires and fear is ridiculous to me. I know that what drives us is a desire to be fulfilled by something when the only thing that fulfils is God. The closest thing in his theory of the psyche that I found to truth was the ego. I do believe that we weigh the morality and logic of things but my understanding of it is that we have a constant battle between our sin nature and what we know is righteous and true. I agree with the majority of Freud's consciousness theory until it comes to the unconsciousness. I don't believe that we have we are born with unknown perversions and fears. I think we develop them. To consider those things a normal part of our psychological process is disturbing to me. I don't think people are inately wired just for sex and pleasure as Freud seems to and in fact I find that suggestion to almost be offensive. He is essentially telling you that you are nothing but a fearful sexual deviant. However these are just my opinions and don't have to be yours but the majority of what is saw in Sigmund Freud's work was sin and fleshly desire.

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