Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939), was an Austrian neurologist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry. Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the defense mechanism of repression, and for creating the clinical practice of psychoanalysis for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient, technically referred to as an "analysand", and a psychoanalyst. Freud redefined sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life, developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association, created the theory of transference in the therapeutic relationship, and interpreted dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires. He was an early neurological researcher into cerebral palsy, and a prolific essayist, drawing on psychoanalysis to contribute to the history, interpretation and critique of culture.
Many of Freud's ideas have been abandoned or modified by other analysts, and modern advances in the field of psychology have shown flaws in some of his theories, while psychoanalysis itself has often been called a pseudoscience. Numerous critics dispute his work, and it has been marginalized within psychology departments. However, it remains influential in clinical approaches, and in the humanities and social sciences. Freud is considered one of the most prominent thinkers of the 20th century, in terms of originality and intellectual influence.
Freud was born on 6 May 1856, to Jewish Galician parents in the Moravian town of Příbor, Austrian Empire, now the Czech Republic. His father, Jacob, was 41, a wool merchant, and had two children by a previous marriage. His mother, Amalié (née Nathansohn), the second wife of Jakob, was 21. He was the first of their eight children and, in accordance with tradition, his parents favored him over his siblings from the early stages of his childhood. Freud was born with a caul, which the family accepted as a positive omen.
Despite their poverty, they sacrificed everything to give him a proper education. Due to the economic crisis of 1857, Freud's father lost his business, and the family moved to Leipzig before settling in Vienna.
Freud remained a secular Jew with a strong Jewish identity lifelong. In 1865, Freud entered the Leopoldstädter Kommunal-Realgymnasium, a prominent high school. He was an outstanding pupil and graduated the Matura in 1873 with honors.
After planning to study law, Freud joined the medical faculty at University of Vienna to study under Darwinist Prof. Karl Claus. At that time, the eel life cycle was unknown and Freud spent four weeks at the Austrian zoological research station in Trieste, dissecting hundreds of eels in an unsuccessful search for their male reproductive organs.
Freud began smoking at 24; he smoked cigarettes at first, but later switched exclusively to cigars. Freud believed that smoking enhanced his capacity to work and ability to muster self-control, and continued despite warnings from Wilhelm Fliess.
Freud greatly admired the philosopher Franz Brentano, known for his theory of perception, as well as Theodor Lipps, who was one of the main supporters of the ideas of the unconscious and empathy.
Freud read Friedrich Nietzsche as a young student, and bought his collected works in 1900, the year of Nietzsche's death; Freud told Fliess that he hoped to find in Nietzsche "the words for much that remains mute in me." According to Peter Gay, however, Freud treated Nietzsche's writings "as texts to be resisted far more than to be studied"; immediately after reporting to Fliess that he had bought Nietzsche's works, Freud added that he had not yet opened them. Students of Freud began to point out analogies between his work and that of Nietzsche almost as soon as he developed a following.