|Born:||1856 - Freiber, Moravia|
|Died:||1939 - London, England|
|Education:||M.D., University of Vienna|
|Achievements:||The leading pioneer in the understanding of human nature, and major contributor to the history of psychology.|
Brilliant from childhood, Sigmund Freud spent eight years at the University of Vienna pursuing his diverse interests in biology, physiology, teaching, and medicine. The breadth of his background formed a solid foundation for his later research.
Armed with a medical degree, Freud entered private practice as a clinical neurologist in 1881. Through his association with Josef Breuer, he developed an interest in hypnosis, which he then studied in France. His work in hypnosis led to intensive self-analysis, through which he diagnosed his own psychological difficulties as anxiety neuroses caused by sexual tensions. Relying largely on dream analysis, Freud reported his findings in The Interpretation of Dreams, considered by many to be his major work.
At the turn of twentieth century Freud began to promote his psychoanalytic theory and practice. He and a group of distinguished colleagues, including Alfred Adler, Otto Rank, and Carl Jung, formed the Vienna Psychological Society. Conflict divided the group as each developed his own theories and style. By 1914 Jung and Adler were on their own.
Freud's fame hit a peak in 1919, which lasted until his death in 1939. During this period he developed a theory of personality and of human motivation that expanded his influence well beyond his clinical practice. Psychoanalysis developed into a broad psychological theory under Freud's guidance, eventually including the principle of repression; the id, ego, and superego; and forces known as instincts, or drives.
While Freud's impact on psychology has been tremendous, he has been criticized for overemphasizing biological forces, especially sex, and for focusing too narrowly on dreams and the subconscious. Still, his insight into the influence of underlying forces on overt behavior-as well as his systematic approach to learning about those forces-continues to be one of the most significant developments in psychology.