Thursday, January 28, 2010

10 Interesting and Revealing Facts About Freud

Sigmund Freud is one of the most famous thinkers in psychology history. While many of his ideas and theories are not widely accepted by modern psychologists, he played a major role in the development of psychology. Learn more about him in these ten interesting and revealing facts about his life.

1. Sigmund Freud Was the Oldest of Eight Children

Freud was born as Sigismund Schlomo Freud on May 6, 1856. His father Joseph was a 41-year-old wool merchant who already had two children from a previous marriage. Freud's mother, Amalia, was twenty years younger than her husband. The failure of his father's business forced the Freud family to move from their home in Freiberg, Moravia to Vienna.
Freud has seven siblings, yet he often described himself as his mother's special favorite - her "golden Siggie." I have found that people who know that they are preferred or favored by their mothers give evidence in their lives of a peculiar self-reliance and an unshakable optimism which often bring actual success to their possessors," Freud once suggested (Grubin, 2002).

2. Sigmund Freud Was the Founder of Psychoanalysis

It isn't often that a single school of thought can be attributed to a single individual. In Freud's case, his theories served as the foundation for a school of psychology that would quickly rise to become a dominant force during the early year's of the science of the mind and behavior. The 1899 publication of his book The Interpretation of Dreams3 established the basic groundwork for the theories and ideas that formed psychoanalysis4. By 1902, Freud was hosting a weekly discussions at his home in Vienna. These informal meetings would eventually grow to become the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.

3. Freud Was Initially an Advocate and User of Cocaine

Before the harmful effects were discovered, cocaine was often used as an analgesic and euphoric. It was even used in common household products, including soda pop and throat lozenges. Freud developed an interest in the potential antidepressant effects of cocaine and initially advocated its use for a variety of purposes. After the addictive and harmful side effects of cocaine became known, Freud's medical reputation suffered somewhat as a result.

4. Sigmund Freud Developed the Use of "Talk Therapy"

While many of Freud's theories are criticized or rejected outright by today's psychotherapists, many of them still utilize the famous psychoanalyst's methods to a certain extent. Talk therapy has become an important part of many different therapeutic techniques. Using talk therapy, the therapy provider looks for patterns or significant events that may play a role in the client’s current difficulties. Psychoanalysts believe that childhood events and unconscious feelings, thoughts and motivations play a role in mental illness and maladaptive behaviors.

5. Freud's Daughter, Anna, Was Also a Famous and Influential Psychologist

Anna Freud8 began her career influenced by her father's theories. Far from living in her father's shadow, Anna Freud made important contributions of her own to psychology. She founded child psychoanalysis and summarized the ego's defense mechanisms9 in her book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (1936).

6. Freud Became a Doctor In Order to Marry the Woman He Loved

When Freud was 26, he fell madly in love with a 21-year-old woman names Martha Bernays and they became engaged two months later. As a poor student still living with his parents,Freud's science lab job did not pay enough to support a family. "My sweet girl, it only pains me to think I should be so powerless to prove my love for you," Freud wrote to Martha.
Six months after they met, Freud gave up his scientific career and become a doctor. He spent three years training at the Vienna General Hospital and was rarely able to see his fiance who had moved to Germany. After four years of waiting, Freud and Bernays were married on September 14, 1886. The two went on to have six children.

7. Freud Probably Never Really Said "Sometimes a Cigar Is Just a Cigar"

While the famous quote is often repeated and attributed to Freud, there is no evidence that he ever actually said it. Freud was a lifelong cigar smoker, smoking up to twenty a day according to his biographer Ernst Jones. As the story goes, someone once asked Freud what the cigar he so often smoked symbolized. The response is meant to suggest that even the famous psychoanalyst believed that not everything held an underlying, symbolic meaning. In reality, the quote is most likely the invention of a journalist that was later mistakenly identified as a quote by Freud.

8. Sigmund Freud Visited the United States Only Once in His Life

In 1909, American psychologist G. Stanley Hall14 invited Sigmund Freud to talk about psychoanalysis at Clark University. While he initially declined the offer, Freud was eventually persuaded by Hall's persistence. Freud traveled to America15 with his colleagues Carl Jung and Sandor Ferenczi.
After meeting up with A.A. Brill and Ernst Jones, the group spent several days sightseeing in New York before traveling to Clark University where Freud delivered a series of five lectures on the history and rise of psychoanalysis. "As I stepped onto the platform," Freud described, "it seemed like the realization of some incredible daydream: Psychoanalysis was no longer a product of delusion--it had become a valuable part of reality" (Wallace, 1975).

9. Sigmund Freud Was Forced to Leave Vienna by the Nazis

His books were burned along with those by other famous thinkers. "What progress we are making," Freud told a friend. "In the Middle Ages they would have burnt me; nowadays they are content with burning my books." Freud and his daughter Anna were both interrogated by the Gestapo before his friend Marie Bonaparte was able to secure their passage to England. Bonaparte also tried to rescue Freud's four younger sisters, but was unable to do so. All four women later died in Nazi concentration camps.

10. Sigmund Freud Had More Than 30 Surgeries to Treat Mouth Cancer

Freud had been a heavy cigar smoker all his life. In 1939, after his cancer had been deemed inoperable, Freud asked his doctor to help him commit suicide. The doctor administered three separate doses of morphine and Freud died September 23, 1939.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Play It First

Miles Davis once said, “I’ll play it first and tell you what it is latter”. Although he was speaking about his music, he was in a sense reminding us about how to live. So many of us look at our lives as set of planned events, we write our menus for the day and quietly live our lives in quiet predictability. We find either disappointment or frustration when the day doesn’t occur the way we planned it. We carry our daily planners or smart phones around with us, feeling secure knowing that we will be reminded where to go and what to do. I will admit that I too carry a Blackberry and check my email and messages feeling assured that I’m able to feel connected, just in case something needs to contact me. Perhaps my sense of importance needs reassurance like the most of us but at the same time I know the need for spontaneity calls me and when I answer, it defines explanation. I guess we can live our lives and create those lists, reminders, and hold ourselves to the promises that we will follow them or create lists and reminders with the understanding that “life happens” and usually things in our lives happen for a reason. Everyday we experience things that we had no idea would occur when we woke up. From the smallest occurrence to a major event that may change us forever. The most predicable thing in our lives is the unpredictability nature of our lives. This is the nature of being human, like children who know all too well, respond to the events around them without trying to control it, becomes their playground. So get up tomorrow morning and try not plan or anticipate your day and tell yourself,

” Today I’ll play it first and tell you what it was latter.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Rules for Being Human

When you were born, you didn't come with an owner's manual; these guidelines make life work better.

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it's the only thing you are sure to keep for the rest of your life.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called "Life on Planet Earth". Every person or incident is the Universal Teacher.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of experimentation. "Failures" are as much a part of the process as "success."

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. It is presented to you in various forms until you learn it -- then you can go on to the next lesson.

5. If you don't learn easy lessons, they get harder. External problems are a precise reflection of your internal state. When you clear inner obstructions, your outside world changes. Pain is how the universe gets your attention.

6. You will know you've learned a lesson when your actions change. Wisdom is practice. A little of something is better than a lot of nothing.

7. "There" is no better than "here". When your "there" becomes a "here" you will simply obtain another "there" that again looks better than "here."

8. Others are only mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another unless it reflects something you love or hate in yourself.

9. Your life is up to you. Life provides the canvas; you do the painting. Take charge of your life -- or someone else will.

10. You always get what you want. Your subconscious rightfully determines what energies, experiences, and people you attract -- therefore, the only foolproof way to know what you want is to see what you have. There are no victims, only students.

11. There is no right or wrong, but there are consequences. Moralizing doesn't help. Judgments only hold the patterns in place. Just do your best.

12. Your answers lie inside you. Children need guidance from others; as we mature, we trust our hearts, where the Laws of Spirit are written. You know more than you have heard or read or been told. All you need to do is to look, listen, and trust.

13. You will forget all this.

14. You can remember any time you wish.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Welcome to Psychology

Psychology is the study of the mind, along with such aspects of mind as perception, cognition, emotion, and behavior. In some ways, it has only been around since the late 1800's, when people like Wilhelm Wundt, William James, and Sigmund Freud separated it from its various mother disciplines such as biology, philosophy, and medicine. But in other ways, it has been around as long as human beings have been discussing human beings. I suspect that cavemen and cavewomen probably sat around the fire talking about the same things we do: How come their kids are weird, why can't men and women get along better, what's with those folks from the next valley, how come old Zook hasn't been the same since that rock hit him, and what do dreams really mean.
Today, psychology strives to be a science. Science is the effort to study a subject with an explicit promise to think as logically and stick to the empirical facts as tightly as is humanly possible. Other sciences -- chemistry, physics, biology, and so on -- have had great success this way. Our cave-person ancestors would be astounded at our understanding of the world around us! But the subject matter of psychology (and the other human sciences) is harder to pin down. We human beings are not as cooperative as some green goo in a test tube! It is a nearly impossible situation: To study the very thing that studies, to research the researcher, to psychoanalyze the psychoanalyst.
So, as you will see, we still have a long way to go in psychology. We have a large collection of theories about this part of being human or that part; we have a lot of experiments and other studies about one particular detail of life or another; we have many therapeutic techniques that sometimes work, and sometimes don't. But there is a steady progress that is easy to see for those of us with, say, a half century of life behind us. We are a bit like medicine in that regard: Don't forget that it wasn't really that long ago when we didn't have vaccines for simple childhood diseases, or anesthesia for operations; heart attacks and cancer were things people simply died of, as opposed to things that many people survive; and mental patients were people we just locked away or lobotomized!
Some day -- sooner rather than later, I think -- we will have the same kinds of understanding of the human mind as we are quickly developing of the human body. The nice thing is, you and I can participate in this process!