Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Psychoanalyst, Thinker, Extraordinary

Sigmund Freud– books– ideas– concepts– Google Doodle –psychoanalysis

Freud was born 160 years ago and Google honored him with a ‘Google doodle’ today.

Sigmund Freud was one of the most influential minds of the twentieth century. In fact, he marked an important development in the history of ideas.

Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud

Freud’s work has wide-ranging implications and influence. It cannot be discussed in a short post. In his later work, he did develop a critique of religion and culture.

He redefined human sexuality with a number of ideas. Oedipus Complex was one such concept. His work on The Interpretations of Dreams is pivotal. It has helped heal patients with neurosis.

I had heard of Freud when I entered BA. But my subjects didn’t include psychology. I studied English Literature. In Masters, in 1992, teachers spoke about Freud in the classroom and we heard of Oedipus Complex. But no one really explained his theories in an English Literature course. Not in 1992 or 1993. So, I borrowed The Interpretation of Dreams from the university library and read it myself. It is a difficult book and for an untrained young student over two decades ago, more difficult to comprehend. However, the book did leave its imprints on me. Over the years, I read Freud in bits and pieces. In MA, I was also aware of Carl Gustave Jung’s concept of the ‘collective unconscious’.

Carl Gustave Jung
Carl Gustave Jung

A friend of mine, Debangshu Kerr, and I did discuss this while discussing James Joyce’s use of the leitmotif. We also spoke about it, when we discussed the works of Northrop Frye.

Freud was always there for literature students. And, then, this semester, I got an opportunity to teach a couple of essays by Freud to undergraduate students. These were smaller essays on the structure of the unconscious.

Sigmund Freud signature
Sigmund Freud signature

Here, Freud laid out the id, the ego and the superego. He also spoke about the preconscious, the subconscious and the unconscious. And he did explain how repressed memories become part of our unconscious.

When we read and discuss Freud, it is natural that it would be directly linked up with an earlier essay I wrote on Edvard Munch, TS Eliot and Virginia Woolf and the need for empathy. In fact, the issue about Coleridge and his dissipating energies could also be looked at.

You can watch this short introductory film on Freud’s work. A longer analytical documentary on Freud is here: Sigmund Freud– The Father of Psychoanalysis.

His ideas have influenced literature, art, and various other fields of study. His ideas were revolutionary.

In his work, The Future of an Illusion, he wrote:

It would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent providence, and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be.

In the Three Lectures on the Theory of Sexuality, he says:

A person who feels pleasure in producing pain in someone else in a sexual relationship is also capable of enjoying as pleasure any pain which he may himself derive from sexual relations. A sadist is always at the same time a masochist.

My tribute to the great thinker. :):):) I’ll write about Freud in greater detail later.