The name of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) has become synonym with psychology. He was an Austrian neurologist who single handedly contributed to formation of Psychoanalysis; a school of thought that believed that our unconscious and past experiences are highly responsible for present behavior. He is regarded as the Father of Psychology; though, there are people who find his theories controversial and absurd. He is ranked high among famous psychologists like, Skinner, Thorndike, Watson, Erikson, Rogers, Bandura and many more who have contributed to the progress in the field of psychology. Their studies have led to formation of new school of thoughts in psychology. Psychology underwent revolutionary change with behaviorism and humanism taking precedence over other models. Freudian theories and psychoanalysis has lost much of credibility today. So what makes Sigmund Freud the greatest psychologist who ever lived? Not many understand the importance of Freud and his work regarding psychology and what huge difference he made to the field. Let us check out some valid arguments which support this claim.
4. Changing views on Mental Illness
In earlier days, people did not associate mental illness with physiological problems. It was believed that divine, magical, diabolical or humoral causes led to madness. The victims were treated like wild animals and kept in asylums. The work of Freud brought about a major change in the outlook the society had towards mental illness. His research regarding conversion syndrome, what was then known as hysteria is revolutionary in itself. The term conversion is derived from the doctrine presented by Freud that hysteria was the result of anxiety converting into physical symptoms. Further Reading: How Psychology Is Connected To Science?
3. Research on Cerebral Palsy
Though many people are familiar with the controversial psycho-sexual development theory of Freud, not many know that Freud had great interest in neurology. He was one of the earlier researchers on cerebral palsy, and had published many papers on the topic. He mentioned that Cerebral Palsy was not the result of oxygen deficit during the birth process but there were other deep rooted problems for the condition. His speculations could be confirmed only in 1980, when medical research made huge progress.
2. The Mystery of Unconscious Mind
Though we cannot say that the discovery of our mysterious and powerful unconscious mind is attributed to Freud, there is no doubt that he is solely responsible for the development and popularizing the concept. Freud found that the unconscious being suppressed was often expressed as a symptom. As the unconscious thoughts were not easily accessible to introspection, even to the individual who possessed them, Freud developed methods or techniques like dream analysis, verbal slips or Freudian slip and free association to access the unconscious mind. Freud divided the mind into Id, Ego and Superego and explained them brilliantly with an example of Iceberg. The part of iceberg visible above the water was the conscious mind which we are aware of. The part of iceberg below the water, but visible was the preconscious. The large submerged part of the iceberg was like the mysterious unconscious mind, which had powerful influence on the personality and behavior of the individual. Through his work and research, Freud could throw light on why humans have such a complex personalities.
Psychoanalysis is one of the schools of thought in psychology. There is no single psychologist who can claim to have formed a school of thought on his/her own like Freud, who research and work contributed to the major part of psychoanalysis. Today the theory has 22 different orientations which have contributed a lot to discovering wide range of information regarding human mental development and also patterns in personality development. Freud could successfully interpret the cause of problems of his patients by his methods of free associations, fantasies, and dream analysis to create insight in them and resolve their problems successfully. Like humanistic counselling, psychoanalysis has succeeded in helping clients gain insight and developed perspective towards life. Freud never treated his patients like machines who could be conditioned with various techniques. Further Reading: 6 Mind-Blowing Books Based On Social Psychology