You may ask why an entire list is dedicated to Sigmund Freud, but the man is famous the world over. He is renowned for his theories on the unconscious and for essentially pioneering psychotherapy, even if there is some argument as to whether he was the first to actually invent it. Freud is also infamous for his theories on psychosexual development, and the fact that his worldview was fairly misogynistic even for his time.
While some of his theories may seem quite wild, the field of psychology today would not be what it is without his influence and early work. Sigmund Freud is proof positive that you can be both a genius who essentially creates an entire field and a complete quack, both at the same time.
10. Drug Abuse
Sigmund Freud abused drugs, and when we say that, what we mean is that Freud really, really, really liked cocaine. Freud loved cocaine so much that he discussed it openly with his fiancé, and performed experiments centered on cocaine with himself as the subject. While that may be the greatest excuse for drug use ever, he also did write several papers on the wonders of this drug, touting its use in all sorts of things, including anesthesia. However, he did enjoy the high that the drug gave him, and definitely used it for more than just medicinal reasons.
Freud had a bit of a problem with the ladies, which is a bit of an understatement. A better question would probably be what problem he didn’t have with women. Freud believed that women’s problems stemmed essentially from them not having a male sex organ, and felt that women didn’t have a good sense of justice. He also considered women to be weak socially, to have a jealous nature, and to be exceedingly vain. Freud was also known to believe women to be the problem in society, especially when it came to sexual tension between the genders.
8. Psychosexual Theories
Freud had a collection of very strange theories, many of which are pretty much discredited today. His main belief was that young children, even infants, had unconscious sexual feelings. Among these were various stages of fixation, such as oral, anal and phallic. Someone with an oral fixation gained in this early stage may end up constantly needing to chew on something, or have something in their mouth, while someone who wasn’t raised properly during the anal stage could be anal-retentive, which is where the expression comes from. He also had theories involving the Oedipus Complex, which had young boys attracted to their mothers, and the Elektra Complex, which had young girls attracted to their fathers.
Many people may not realize that Freud had a very long running battle with cancer. This was mainly due to his constant habit of smoking cigars, leading to mouth cancer later in life. At one point Freud managed to actually quit for over a year, but eventually went back to the habit again full-time. According to some, he smoked as many as twenty cigars in a typical day and had to go through 34 operations, still eventually succumbing to cancer. Despite Freud’s knowledge of psychology, he was unable to ever truly break the habit.
6. Father Of Psychoanalysis
Freud is famous for being the inventor of psychoanalysis, though some argue whether he was the first to use the method. Freud, though, was unquestionably the first to popularize the method, and influenced many great psychologists such as Carl Jung. Psychoanalysis often involves attempting to understand a patient through their childhood development and greatly involves the unconscious. His psychoanalysis has been criticized, and still enjoys a certain controversy among the psychology community today. His beliefs have always been considered controversial, but his contribution to the field of psychology and his influence cannot be denied.
5. Womb Envy
Some of Freud’s contemporaries were women, and a bit more feminist than he was (then again, it sounds like just about everybody is more feminist than Freud.) In response to his belief that many of women’s ills belonged to the fact that they did not have a penis and were jealous of men for having one, a female contemporary came up with the alternate theory of womb envy. Also known as vagina envy, this is an alternate theory that states men are actually jealous of women, because they do not have a womb and thus cannot create life. To make up for this jealousy, men try to construct businesses instead so it feels like they are creating something. One feminist even makes the argument that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is essentially a story about a man with womb envy.
4. Dream Theories
Sigmund Freud placed a lot of importance on the unconscious, so perhaps not all too surprisingly he had quite a hang up on dreams. Freud believed that dreams had parts that you remember, and those that you did not. His theory was that what you actually remembered was just something that represented what you were actually thinking during the dream, and that it was meant to disguise the true thought. Freud even wrote a book on dreams called, creatively titled “The Interpretation of Dreams.” His main belief at the time was that dreams are a way of fulfilling things we wish we could do while conscious, but were unable.
3. The Unconscious
Freud was one of the first to really propose serious theories on the unconscious, and it was truly a cornerstone of nearly all of what he believed. The unconscious, for our purposes, is supposed to be all of the processes in our brain that we perform without really thinking. However, Freud saw it as much more than this. He believed that the unconscious drives how we behave, often acting on feelings that have been repressed inside us since he were very young. He believed very strongly that nearly all actions that people performed were the result of unconscious processes, which would mean that our free will does not perform quite the way we first thought. While it is certain that we do have an unconscious mind, it is hard to say just how many of Freud’s theories regarding it are actually true, or even have elements of truth to them.
2. Oral Fixation
There is a popular story that Freud was once with a class smoking one of his favorite cigars when one of his students suggested that perhaps his constant need to have something in his mouth meant that he had an oral fixation, basically pinning him with his own made-up disorder. To this, Freud famously replied “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Funnily enough, it turns out that some people have investigated this quote and discovered that the entire thing probably never even happened. However, as we mentioned earlier, Freud did indeed love his cigars. He was been quoted as saying that cigars were essential to his life, and he believed that they improved his work. In short, if oral fixation is real, he clearly had it, sassy comeback or none.
A polyglot is someone who can speak many languages, basically a super linguist. And Sigmund Freud was a serious polyglot, with a strong knowledge of German, Italian, Greek, English, Spanish, Hebrew and Latin. For those of who aren’t counting, that is a grand total of seven languages, which makes us look bad as most people are lucky to be proficient in their own language. Freud was also quite the little genius, already reading Shakespeare at the tender age of eight. He was also accepted into a prestigious high school and graduated with honors, eventually proving himself as the kookiest psychologist ever to walk the Earth.