Sigmund Freud once said that, "Analogies decide nothing, it is true, but they can make one feel more at home". He was born in 1856 to his father's second wife. He spent more than seventy years of his life in Vienna, but he claimed to hate the city more than anything in the world. He left Vienna when he was forced to do so, because of the German invasion of the city.
Sigmund Freud's father was a merchant in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There was a huge two decade age gap between Sigmund and his two half brothers. His father was a liberal, free thinking Jew. He was highly ambitious from an early age because his parents encouraged him to think highly of himself. It was apparent from an early age that he was academically inclined. Most of the doctors and lawyers of the age were Jewish, and he was also expected to take up either profession.
In 1873, the future father of psychoanalysis and dreams, entered the University of Vienna medical school. Sigmund Freud was interested in pure research but he did not have the financial resources to commence studies. It was in those days, that he got engaged. This constrained him further. He finally decided to specialize in neurology and enter into private practice. It was during his studies that a meeting with Josef Breuer, changed his life forever.
Josef Breuer was a physiologist and one of his patients was a young woman known as Anna O. She suffered from a disease called hysteria; she had temporary paralysis and could not drink water even when she felt thirsty. Anna O's case was especially odd, because of her inability to speak her native language - German, but she was fluent in French and English. Josef Breuer tried something that had never been tried before, he would hypnotize her. Once she snapped out of her hypnosis, all her symptoms would disappear, and she would appear perfectly normal. In the state of hypnosis she would talk of events that she would not recollect in her conscious state.
It was out of this experience that Freud began forming his belief regarding the conscious and the unconscious. He began to debunk the theory that people could collect real knowledge about their world and have total control over themselves and their world. He introduced the world to the concept of the unconscious mind.
Sigmund Freud was heavily influenced by Josef Breuer's methods. He went on to study neurology under the famed neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot. Now, it was time for his magic to spread all over the world. When he first used the term psychoanalysis, he was forty years old. He proposed that the unconscious was divided into three parts: Id, Ego, and Superego. The Id represented our most primitive need, the gratification type of thoughts. The Superego represented our conscience. The Ego stands in between both, to balance our primitive needs and our moral/ethical beliefs. The Id and the Superego, can coexist and interact with each other, only in the presence of the ego.
Sigmund Freud's theories may appear groundbreaking today, but all they managed to do for him was to alienate him from mainstream psychiatry. However, he soon found people who were willing to join him. Carl Jung was his most famous disciple. Jung was Swiss and came from a pious Protestant background. His brilliance drew Freud towards him.
Another area where he became an expert was in the effects of cocaine. He was an enthusiastic cocaine user. Though significant, his study of the effects of cocaine on minor surgery, has always paled in significance to his work in psychoanalysis. He has also studied culture, literature, and religion, all over the world.
Sigmund Freud's other great contribution is his progeny that he left behind. His daughter Anna, was also a distinguished child psychologist. His grandson's include the famous painter, Lucian, and writer, Clement. Hid great grandchildren include journalist, Emma, and fashion designer, Bella.
In 1923, Sigmund was diagnosed with jaw cancer. It is speculated that this came about because of his incessant cigar smoking. In the 1938 invasion of Vienna, it was his world wide fame that saved him after his passport was confiscated by the Nazi's. External pressure on the Nazi's meant that he and his wife were allowed to flee to England. He died in 1939.
Most Freudian's and anti-Freudians would agree that there is no middle path when it comes to him. He is either treated like a demi-god or as a quack. His greatest contribution has been his attempt to shape the minds of people, to open it to the myriad of possibilities that exist.