Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud was a remarkable social scientist that changed psychology through out the world. He was the first major social scientist to propose a unified theory to understand and explain human behavior. No theory that has followed has been more complete, more complex, or more controversial. Some psychologists treat Freud's writings as a sacred text - if Freud said it, it must be true. On the other hand, many have accused Freud of being unscientific, suggesting theories that are too complicated ever to be proved true or false. He changed prior ideas on how the human mind works and the theory that unconscious motives control much behavior. "He applied himself to a new field of study…and struggled with an environment whose rejection of his work endangered his livelihood and that of his family" (Freud, page 3). His work greatly improved the fields of psychiatry, and psychology, and helped millions of mentally ill patients. He was born on May 6, 1856, in Freiberg, Moravia, a region now in the Czech Republic. His father was a wool merchant and was forty when he had Sigmund, the oldest of eight children (Peter Gay, page 78). When Freud turned four, his family moved to Vienna, Austria. After graduating from the Spree Gymnasium, Freud was inspired by an essay written by Goethe on nature, to make medicine as his career. After graduating from the medical school of the University of Vienna in 1881, Freud decided to specialize in neurology, the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system (Peter Gay, page 79).

In 1885, Freud went to Paris to study under Jean Martin Charcot, a famous neurologist. Charcot was working with patients who suffered from a mental illness called hysteria. Some of these people appeared to be blind, or paralyzed, but they actually had no physical defects. Charcot found that their physical symptoms could be relieved through hypnosis. Freud returned to Vienna in 1886 and began to work with hysterical patients. He gradually...
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