Sigmund Freud on How We Become Who We Are

Sigmund Freud is an influential figure in the history of psychology. Freud was born in Freiberg. He suffered from many health problems as a child, including cerebrovascular ailments and impotence. These problems gave him much stress as an adult and prompted him to research the cause of these illnesses so he could help others who may be going through similar experiences.

Freud is considered to be one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. He is best known as the father of psychoanalysis, a method of treating psychological disorders that relies on uncovering unconscious thoughts and feelings through talking with patients.

His ideas inspired later thinkers, including other psychologists such as Albert Ellis and Rollo Tomory, and philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze and Karl Jaspers. According to Deleuze: ‘No other author has had such an impact on both the history of ideas and psychoanalysis itself’.

He is also known for revolutionising how we think about mental illness. His theories and discoveries led to new ways of understanding normal human behaviour and why some people are vulnerable to some psychological issues.

Sigmund Freud was a pioneering psychoanalyst who attempted to explain the root cause of human behaviour, including why people feel, think and behave the ways they do.

His greatest insight came when he realised that our conscious mind is just the tip of an iceberg: we also have other sub-conscious drives that govern our behaviour and determine how we feel about things. In his groundbreaking studies on dreams, sexual desires, and unconscious mental processes, he revolutionised how we perceive the world around us.

He is best known for his groundbreaking work on psychoanalysis, which centres on the idea that there is a deep connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviours. “Public self is a conditioned construct of the inner psychological self,” he observed.

Thoughts and feelings are two sides of the same coin. While thoughts can come from anywhere — the mind is a pretty blank canvas — feelings are always from a place inside you. How you feel about something isn’t just a reflection of your thoughts, it’s also a reflection of your body’s reaction to what you’re thinking. “The more perfect a person is on the outside, the more demons they have on the inside,” Freud once said.

For example, if you get upset because another person is late for an appointment, that emotion is caused by your thoughts (worrying about what might happen) and your body’s reaction (the tension in your shoulders). Consequently, you can’t feel your way to understanding why you’re upset. You have to be able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand why they might be late.

According to Freud, thoughts, feelings and behaviours are linked together through complex psychological processes called instincts, which he believed drive all human behaviour. As such, it’s important to understand your psychology to become more self-aware and better able to cope with the various challenges that life throws you.“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways,” he once said.

And one way to do this is by taking time to reflect on how you think, feel and behave. By doing so, you can better understand yourself and perhaps even learn how to change your behaviour to improve your life situation. “To be completely honest with oneself is the very best effort a human being can make,” he said.

Personality develops from mental, emotional, and behavioural aspects of sexual development

After extensive research into different disorders, including hysteria, he formulated his theory called psychosexualitywhich explained that a person’s personality develops from their unconscious sexual desires (i.e., their libido).

The unconscious mind has access to our thoughts and memories when we are sleeping or relaxed, but it usually represses them when we have to function in a conscious state, such as in waking life. Freud believed that what people consciously remember about their childhood shapes who they are today as adults.“The only person with whom you have to compare yourself is you in the past,” Freud said.

The 3 parts of the human psyche

The id, ego, and superego are three distinct but interrelated parts of the psyche Freud observed. These three parts create a balance in the mind.

Sigmund Freud theorised that these instinctual drives are at the centre of human personality and behaviour. They represent our most basic needs and desires, as well as our most dangerous impulses.

The id represents the primitive aspects of our human nature — the part that drives us towards immediate gratification has impulses and appetites which we often ignore or fight against.

The id is Freud’s term for the part of the mind governed by instinct. This unconscious region of the mind operates on an instinctual level and often acts against our better judgment, often in harmful ways.

The id represents our primal urges toward sex, eating, fighting, and anything else we might experience as instincts. It acts automatically without much conscious thought or evaluation from other parts of the mind because it doesn’t make sense to think about such things when more important matters are at stake.

The ego stands for our conscious mind and its functions: it’s where we keep our rational thoughts and how we filter those impulses and appetites according to our values, ethics, morals and beliefs.

The ego functions to balance out the id, with it operating under a more rational mode of thinking and acting. For example, if your id urges you to eat ice cream, then your ego can tell you it’s not good for you (that ice cream might contain high amounts of unhealthy fats or chemicals you don’t need).

Our ego functions to moderate our id impulses by putting them in some kind of context while keeping them in check so they don’t run wild all willy-nilly without rhyme or reason. “In the small matters trust the mind, in the large ones the heart,” Freud once said.

Lastly, the superego is what most people call conscience or conscience principles: it represents our moral sense, self-discipline, morality, and higher ideals or standards by which we measure ourselves as individuals (good vs bad). It’s the third force operating within us that takes into account our upbringing and societal norms before making decisions about how we should act or behave as individuals.

Freud didn’t just talk about the unconscious; he theorised about it. Freud believed that humans feel certain emotions more than others and that the object of our affections determines these feelings. He also recognised that we think in words and images rather than ideas. These thoughts and images combine to create our sense of self — the sense of “I”.

Much of the modern world is built upon understanding the human mind and actions. The more we understand how we think and act, the better we can design a meaningful life and control our emotions.