Sigmund Freud was born Sigisund Schlomo Freud in 1856 in Freiberg, Moravia. He chose to abbreviate his name to Sigmund Freud when he was twenty-one years old. His father, a wool merchant, bore two children before marrying for a third time to Freud's mother who was twenty years younger than Freud?s father. While Freud was the first of eight children by the couple, he displayed his brilliance at a young age and gained the favoritism of his parents. As a result, his poor parents sacrificed a great deal financially to provide him with a proper education. Despite the family's economic struggles, Freud graduated from high school with honors. He then attended the University of Vienna where he studied medicine and was first introduced to psychodynamics, a theory used to determine the psychological forces of human behavior (PsychologistWorld).
While medical school paved the way for the beginning of his career, this well-known psychologist, also worked in the fields of neurology, philosophy, psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, and literature. His most famous work, The Interpretation of Dreams, describes some of his most famous theories about the mind and the unconscious such as dream symbolism and interpretation, wish-fulfillment. It also mentions his famous theories of the Id, Ego, and Superego (Chiriac).
The Interpretation of Dreams
The Interpretation of Dreams was arguably Freud?s most celebrated work which was published in 1900 (Doyle).˙ Before Freud?s book, there had been much speculation by psychologists as to the meaning of dreams and their relationship to the conscious and unconscious mind; however, Freud was one of the first psychologists˙to formally analyze dreams through clinical trials and˙examination of his own dream experiences˙and compile˙his findings˙into book-form (Doyle).
Chapter I: The Scientific Literature Dealing with the Problems of Dreams
In the first chapter of his book, Freud cites psychologists, scientists, and philosophers and their theories concerning dreams. He provides an analysis for the literature of past psychologists, whose topics of study range from the relation of dreams to the waking life to internal and external stimuli associated with dreams. He analyzes why dreams are often forgotten after one wakes, explains how one?s morality tends to be warped when in the dreaming state, and points out the relationship between mental diseases and dreams.
Chapter II: The Method of Interpreting Dreams: An Analysis of a Specimen Dream
In this chapter, Freud refutes the common scientific theories that assert that dreams can be read or understood. Rather, he argues that all dreams are open to interpretation since, by scientific definition, dreams are composed of symbols and symbols often represent abstractions.
Chapter III: The Dream as Wish-Fulfilment
Freud discusses many different dream scenarios including one of his own dream experiences in which he dreams about drinking lots of water and consequently wakes himself because he is thirsty. He experimented with this particular dream by eating plenty of salty foods during the day in order to summon the need to drink water later that night. (He cites another scientist who explains that the sensation of thirst might be one of the strongest sensations associated with the dream state and that the sleeper, upon waking, feels disappointment when he or she realizes that the imaginary refreshment has not quenched their actual thirst).
Chapter IV: Distortion in Dreams
Freud discusses dreams as wish-fulfillment in this chapter and also explains why dreams that are frightening are actually wish-fulfillments. He explains that all symbols, images, words, etc. that one perceives in a dream are actual distortions or disguises of what those objects are truly supposed to be. Freud explains that dreams can never been deduced or understood entirely because there is always a censor (also known as the Ego) that blocks the sleeper from understanding his or her dreams.
Chapter V. The Material and Sources of Dreams
In this chapter, Freud analyses the parallels between some of his own dreams and his real life experiences. He also addresses the ways in which dreams can refer to the preceding day, the past few weeks, or even years past. He also addresses how early past experiences in one?s life (such as in the infantile stage) experiences can relate to one?s present dreams, even if these experiences are completely repressed or forgotten. Freud also explains some of the most common dreams (such as the fear of being naked in public and the fear of losing a loved one).
Chapter VI: The Dream-Work
Freud explains in this chapter that all dreams are merely condensed versions of a plethora of one?s dream thoughts. He also explains that the central message or meaning behind a dream is also disguised from the sleeper; he posits that it may be that the background images, the secondary characters, etc. are the true focus of the dream.
Chapter VII: The Psychology of the Dream-Processes
In this chapter, Freud explains that people cannot always recollect every occurrence in a dream. Because of this, we instead recall fragments of our dreams and try to interpret them, yet these interpretations are often fabricated because we tend to embellish our recollections of our dreams without even realizing it. We substitute blurry areas with images or thoughts that make sense (or we can try to substitute-in ideas that do not seem to make sense to us; nevertheless, this is still fabrication) (Freud).
Freudian Concepts: Id, Ego, Superego
According to Freud, the human psyche is composed of three parts: The Id, Ego, and Superego. He asserts that all people are born with their Id, the pleasure-principle component of our psyche, and that we develop our Id as infants. The id works by providing us with desires for all types of things (in the case of infants, the id desires food, warmth, etc.). The main goal of the id is to satisfy the person?s wants and the id does not care about reality or other humans? needs. Freud argues that the id is entirely hidden away in the unconscious (Wagner). Once the person grows to approximately three years of age, it starts to develop its Ego, or the reality-principle component of the human psyche. The ego tries to balance the pleasure-seeking impulses of the id because the ego realizes that there are other people in the world and it is important to have their desires satisfied, as well. The ego also attempts to balance the rigidly moral tendencies of the superego (see below) in order to provide the human with some satisfactions in life and prevent the human from becoming overly judgmental. The ego is partially hidden away in the unconscious. Around the age of five or six, the person finally develops their Supergo, the morality-principle component of the human psyche. The superego acts as an antithesis to the id by placing moral and ethical constraints on the human. The superego is often thought of as the human?s ?conscience? because it determines what we believe to be right and wrong as well as our actions in response to these right and wrong things. Freud would argue that the superego is partially hidden away in the unconscious, but is also part of the human preconscious and conscious; thus, it can be accessed by the human mind (Wagner).
Freudian Themes in Kate Chopin's At Fault
Kate Chopin's father passed away from a train accident when she was five years old. Once can argue that repressed images of this incident emerged in some moments of her stories such as At Fault, when Hosmer considers jumping in front of a train as a way out. Furthermore, Hosmer's desire to reveal his love for Therese is a sign of repressed sexual tension, especially since he divorced his wife many years before meeting Therese. Gregorie's uncontrollable longing for Melicent, as well as the kiss that he gives her, demonstrates that Gregorie is a perfect example of Freud's Id. Also, Therese's irrational desire to do what is morally right for Fanny reveals that Therese is a representation of Freud's Superego; she holds herself to a strict sense of right and wrong and does not let Hosmer or any other person convince her of another way to deal with Fanny. Fanny, who appears to be an alcoholic in the novel, possesses an oral fixation for drinking that Freud would argue stems from her overly-powerful id that developed during infancy (Chopin)
Freudian Themes in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Edna Pontellier attempts to enter patriarchal society by taking on multiple lovers, moving into her own house, and refusing to open her husband's house to visitors. One of Edna?s lovers, Alcee Arobin, seems to awaken the sexual desires of Edna whereas Robert Lebrun appeals to her loving, less-lustful emotions. Her relationship with both of these men ultimately represents a form of penis envy which, Freud would argue, stems from her repressed sexual desires that developed as her id was forming as an infant. Edna's jealousy of Robert's letters to Madame Lebrun can be interpreted as an example of the Electra Complex; Edna wishes to destroy the mother who is receiving attention from the male that she desires. This conscious desire for Robert and unconscious hatred of Madame Lebrun can be linked to the pleasure-seeking principle of the id. Also, Edna's perception of Adele's newborn baby as well as Edna's removal of her clothes before stepping into the ocean represent Edna's desire to return to the fetal stage and become re-birthed. The water of the ocean represents the womb; the stripping of her clothes represents the nakedness of being born. This regression to infancy in order to attain security can also be applied to the id. Edna, who has children and a husband, decides to end her life in order to satisfy her pleasures, yet this act does not take into consideration the happiness of her family that she chooses to leave behind, a perfect example of the id (Chopin).
Freudian Themes in Kate Chopin's Short Stories
Some of the major themes of Chopin's short stories:
-an individual's conflicting responsibilities to her and to others; a dilemma
-a wife's impatience and frustration with marriage
-a rejection of the traditional roles of women
-a woman's acknowledgment and response to the sexual urges
One theme in Chopin's short story "The Storm" is a woman's acknowledgement and response to sexual urges. In the story, Calixta's sexual desire for Alcee is vamped by the intensity of the setting. Freud would interpret Calixta's psyche as being in the realm of the ego. In the ego, Calixta is aware of her limitations and strategies to overcome them. In this case, Calixta is overcome with sexual desire for Alcee and realizes that she must partake in sexual intercourse to overcome these sexual limitations. An individual's conflicting responsibilities to her and to others is also a common trend in Chopin?s novel. In the story Lilacs, Adrienne is socially rejected from those who she has known since she was younger. A Freudian reading of this would place the nun's minds, those who reject Adrienne, in the stage of the superego. While in this stage, the nuns consciously have a sense of right and wrong. Thus, it is their superego that evokes their decision to reject Adrienne because of pressures driven partly by society. At the end of "At the Cajun Ball," Calixta and Alcee both end up with significant others, even though they are not entirely happy with their decision. Freud would read this as the id (internal desire) and the superego (conditioned beliefs) conflicting with one another. As a result of both traits of the psyche attempting to suppress the other, a defense mechanism evolves. Thus, compensation, Calixta and Alcee not being with one another in the end, emerges (Chopin).
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