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Sigmund Freud | Father of Psychoanalysis

Aug 19, 2022
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24
minutes

To some, he was a visionary who helped us understand our unconscious mind. To others, he was a sex-crazed maniac who made no contributions to psychiatry.

In this episode, we'll explore the fascinating life and works of Sigmund Freud.

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:11] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about Sigmund Freud; the pioneer of psychoanalysis, the study of the unconscious mind.

[00:00:32] To some, he is the man who created a vitally important way of understanding the human mind. 

[00:00:38] To others, he was a sex-obsessed pseudoscienst.

[00:00:43] Whatever you think of Sigmund Freud, he transformed, and in many ways shaped, how we think about ourselves; and, well, think about thinking!

[00:00:52] Freud’s theories on consciousness led him to new treatments for mental illness, some questionable and some still very much in use today – and turned him into a household name.

[00:01:04] But it was not an easy path to success; Freud faced discrimination, controversy, and tragedy along the way. 

[00:01:12] OK then, Sigmund Freud.

[00:01:16] Freud was born on the 6th of May of 1856 in Freiberg, in Moravia, which is now part of the Czech Republic. 

[00:01:24] His family were Jewish and lived in the predominantly Catholic city until they moved in 1860, to the Jewish neighbourhood of Leopoldstadt in Vienna.

[00:01:36] Freud’s family were likely attracted to the new liberating policies of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which ensured equal rights for Jews and the abolishment of ghettos. 

[00:01:49] And although Freud was a non-practising Jew his whole life, his heritage would lead to much hardship and pain.

[00:01:58] Freud’s early life was a time of strict societal expectations. 

[00:02:04] People were expected to follow gender roles; personal matters were to be kept private; sexual expression was completely taboo, completely forbidden; and mental health issues were not understood, instead of therapy there were dangerous drugs, asylums or even deadly brain surgeries.

[00:02:26] However, some things in the world were beginning to change. 

[00:02:31] In 1871, two years before Freud began studying Medicine at the University of Vienna, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man. The book proposed humans descended from apes and, as such, were subject to natural instincts and urges.

[00:02:51] Freud would go on to admit in his autobiography that Darwin’s theories ‘strongly attracted me, for they held out hopes of extraordinary advance in our understanding of the world’. 

[00:03:04] The changes in the understanding of the world from Darwin and many others, had a profound impact upon Freud’s own theories of the mind.

[00:03:14] After Freud got his doctorate degree in medicine, in 1882, he began working as a clinical assistant at the General Hospital in Vienna. 

[00:03:25] During this time, he met the woman who would become the love of his life, Martha Bernays, the daughter of an important Jewish family from Vienna.

[00:03:36] But Freud was not yet in a position to marry Martha, as he did not have enough money or the reputation to marry a woman of such high social status. 

[00:03:46] So, he really began to concentrate on advancing professionally, and to make a name for himself, so that Martha’s parents would agree to let him marry their daughter. 

[00:03:59] This would take some time.

[00:04:01] Freud began to research what he believed was a valuable and effective medical treatment … and it was, cocaine, which I should add was not illegal at the time. 

[00:04:14] Throughout the early 1880s, Freud studied how cocaine could be used as a local anaesthetic and a treatment for depression.

[00:04:23] He was also, undeniably, a big fan of the drug himself. 

[00:04:28] He wrote positively of the effects it had on him, claiming it helped him in social situations and made him feel energised, all without the negative effects of alcohol. 

[00:04:40] He believed in cocaine so much that in 1884, he published a paper which he described as ‘a song of praise to this magical substance’.

[00:04:51] However, Freud would soon come to regret these, somewhat, hasty judgements, when the negative and addictive effects of the drug became more widely known. 

[00:05:03] Even Freud’s own friend, a man named Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, who Freud had introduced to cocaine to combat his own morphine addiction, would go on to die of an overdose in 1891.

[00:05:17] Ultimately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Freud’s studies on cocaine did not have the effect on his career that he had hoped for. 

[00:05:27] In fact, they only weakened his standing, his reputation, in the scientific community. 

[00:05:33] This was not to be the big discovery Freud had hoped for, nor his path to marrying Martha.

[00:05:41] In the second half of the 1880s, though, his prospects began to improve. 

[00:05:46] In 1885, Freud went to Paris to work with the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, to study hypnosis and what was called, ‘hysteria’ – an outdated and generalised term for a variety of mental illnesses.

[00:06:04] The time spent with Charcot was deeply influential, as Freud saw how patients under hypnosis would explain desires, fears and memories that were not apparent in their conscious mind. 

[00:06:19] It introduced Freud to the idea of an unconscious mind lying within us.

[00:06:26] When Freud returned from Paris the following year, he opened his own practice to treat mental illness and began working with a man called Josef Breuer. 

[00:06:37] Breuer had also studied how hypnosis and talking could treat mental illness. He told Freud about a past patient of his named Anna O, whose symptoms had reportedly improved after talking openly about her experiences.

[00:06:56] Anna O was actually the one to coin the term, ‘talking cure’; and such a cure was ground-breaking in a world where sharing private thoughts was deemed inappropriate and impolite.

[00:07:11] Freud was captivated by this focus on talking, and it certainly influenced his own practice

[00:07:19] He stopped using hypnosis and focused purely on listening to patients who would talk to him while lying on a couch. 

[00:07:27] And while Freud was not yet a household name, he had finally made enough money to marry Martha, and they would go on to have six children over the next decade.

[00:07:39] Eventually, Breuer and Freud would go on to publish their book Studies on Hysteria in 1895. But as Freud continued to develop his own ideas around mental illness, a rift, a division, emerged with his collaborator. 

[00:07:57] Breuer soon ended their work together, as he did not agree with Freud’s fixation on sex and its role in the formation of mental disorders.

[00:08:08] In Breuer’s own words: ‘the plunging of sexuality in theory and practice is not to my taste’. 

[00:08:16] Indeed, it was not to the taste of most at this time, which made Freud’s theories all the more controversial. As we’ll come to discuss, to this day Freud’s fiercest critics claim he has a singular obsession with sex.

[00:08:34] It would be a year later in 1896 when the 40-year-old Freud would first coined the term ‘psychoanalysis’ to describe his own talking therapy. 

[00:08:45] The premise was that patients could recall experiences or emotions from their past that had been hidden in their unconscious; and by talking openly about these, a patient could confront and overcome them.

[00:09:00] Freud would continue to refine this practice over the next few years and used himself as a test subject following the death of his father. 

[00:09:11] Freud believed the emotions he felt following this loss were a result of repressed feelings surrounding experiences in his own childhood.

[00:09:21] To further his analysis, Freud turned to his dreams, and this was certainly controversial at the time. Dreams were not considered serious material worthy of scientific analysis – they were nonsense, fairy tales, and the product of a sleeping, barely functioning, mind.

[00:09:43] Characteristically undeterred though, not put off, by contemporary opinions, Freud went on to publish his findings in 1899, in what would become one of his most famous works: The Interpretation of Dreams. 

[00:09:59] Of course, people trying to interpret their dreams is nothing new, but Freud’s innovation was to approach this from a clinical perspective, from a scientific and medical point of view.

[00:10:13] The book was profound and of lasting influence, and it argued that dreams were an important element to the human psyche.

[00:10:23] Not only was Freud’s discussion of dreams so shocking, but his insistence that his theories were applicable to everyone, not just those suffering from mental illness, was hard to believe.

[00:10:38] The Interpretation of Dreams holds many complex concepts but its key point is that dreams make evident things that are happening in the unconscious, specifically, repressed fears and desires from childhood.

[00:10:54] It's in this book that Freud also introduced the provocative ‘Oedipus Complex’. 

[00:11:00] The name stems from the myth of Oedipus in Greek mythology, where the eponymous protagonist kills his father, in order to marry his mother. 

[00:11:10] If you’re familiar with Greek mythology, you’ll know this sort of thing is not too unusual.

[00:11:17] Nonetheless, Freud’s concept is named after the story of Oedipius because it theorised how a child feels in competition with their parent of the same sex, for possession of their parent of the opposite sex, how a son feels towards his father, or a daughter feels towards her mother.

[00:11:36] Despite all the ground-breaking and controversial discussions in the book though, it was not an immediate success, and it sold less than a hundred copies in its initial release. 

[00:11:49] And, unsurprisingly, it drew much criticism from the scientific and medical communities.

[00:11:56] But, once again, Freud would continue in spite of his critics, and in 1901 he published The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, which discusses what are now called Freudian slips

[00:12:10] A Freudian slip is also known as a ‘slip of the tongue’, it’s when we say something by accident. 

[00:12:17] But for Freud they are not just accidents or mistakes, they are the unconscious mind purposefully making its way to the surface.

[00:12:27] One example of this is that moment we all dreaded, we feared in school, accidentally calling a teacher mum or dad. 

[00:12:36] A Freudian analysis might see this as a child associating their teacher with their parent because they miss them and want to go home.

[00:12:46] Although many disagreed with Freud’s theories, as the years went on he continued to publish many papers and was appointed Professor of Neuropathology, at the University of Vienna. 

[00:12:58] Increasing numbers of people would come and listen to him lecture and he began to gain more followers.

[00:13:06] Even with the controversy surrounding his work, things were finally looking up for Freud, and he was getting the recognition that he believed he deserved. 

[00:13:16] By 1908, the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society was established, and Freud’s reputation began to spread across Europe and all the way to America.

[00:13:27] One friendship in particular helped Freud’s notoriety; it helped him become better known– that of Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist 19 years his junior, 19 years younger than him. Freud had hoped that Jung would help bring psychoanalysis into the mainstream

[00:13:47] Jung was younger, he was a fresh face, and most importantly, he was not Jewish.

[00:13:54] Freud was fully aware of the prejudice he faced as a Jew and the effect this had on his reputation. 

[00:14:03] Jung was free from such prejudice, and he would ensure that psychoanalysis would not become associated with Judaism and that it would be considered a science in its own right

[00:14:16] For a time, Jung was a great supporter and friend of Freud, they would engage in discussions lasting hours on end and Jung would defend his friend in the face of detractors

[00:14:29] Jung even became the president of the International Psychoanalytic Association, and accompanied Freud on important trips across the globe – trips that secured Freud’s growing fame and reputation.

[00:14:43] However, the relationship between the pair would not last. 

[00:14:48] Some people speculate, in a Freudian way, that Jung had a problem with Freud, viewing him as a kind of father figure, while Freud had sexual feelings towards Jung. 

[00:15:01] Whatever the reasons, by 1913, the pair broke off all contact and they would never see each other again.

[00:15:10] 1913 not only saw the end of this friendship but the end of the world as it was known, for a year later would see the start of the First World War.

[00:15:21] Freud was too old to serve in the war - he was 58 - but, as you might expect, the war had a major impact on his work. 

[00:15:31] Patients stopped attending, international activities halted, and the trauma of the war came very close to Freud’s home as his three sons were drafted into military service – luckily, though, they all survived.

[00:15:46] While Freud was not seeing as many patients, he concentrated on his research and wrote prolifically

[00:15:53] By 1920, Freud produced another of his most famous papers, called Beyond the Pleasure Principle. 

[00:16:00] Here, Freud introduces the concept of the three elements that comprise, that make up the human psyche: the Id, the Ego and Super-ego. 

[00:16:12] He would go on to develop the discussion on this theory in 1923.

[00:16:18] In a simplified way, the Id harbours our unconscious desires and pushes us to gain pleasure in life; the Ego is governed by reality and pragmatism, and functions as a regulator for the Id and Super-ego, the latter being concerned with morals, ideals and guilt. 

[00:16:39] So, we can think of the Id like a little devil on our shoulder, and the Super-ego an angel on the other.

[00:16:48] Beyond the Pleasure Principle also introduces the concept of the ‘Death Drive’, the notion or idea that all humans are driven towards death. Freud had, after all, declared that ‘the aim of all life is death’. 

[00:17:04] Freud had just lived through the horrors of the First World War, so this morbid cynicism does make some sense when you realise what he had seen.

[00:17:14] Now, 1923 was a significant year for Freud not only because of this theory, but also because, at the age of 67, he was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw, likely due to his lifelong addiction to cigars. 

[00:17:30] During the following ten years, Freud endured many painful surgeries and even had part of his jaw removed, although he never managed to quit the cigars.

[00:17:41] But this was not the only tragedy that would afflict Freud towards the end of his life, for the catastrophic tensions that would eventually lead to the Second World War soon intensified.

[00:17:53] In 1933, the Nazis took over Germany and given that Freud was Jewish, they burnt his books. 

[00:18:01] This led to his famous quip, his well-known saying, that: ‘What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burnt me; nowadays they are content with burning my books.’

[00:18:14] Despite the evident danger, Freud was determined to remain in Vienna and he largely underestimated the Nazi threat. 

[00:18:22] That was until 1938, when the Nazis raided his apartment and the Gestapo arrested his daughter, Anna. 

[00:18:30] This was a true wake up call for Freud and following this horrifying event, he and his wife and daughter fled to London.

[00:18:39] Tragically, four of Freud’s sisters could not get the right documents to leave with them, and they had to remain in Vienna, eventually being sent to concentration camps where they were killed.

[00:18:52] Shortly after arriving in London in 1939, war was officially declared. 

[00:18:58] Freud was beginning to lose his own battle, however. 

[00:19:01] He had grown weak and frail and was suffering greatly due to his cancer. 

[00:19:07] He sought help from his friend and doctor Max Schur, a fellow refugee.

[00:19:13] Freud reminded his friend of a promise that he would not ‘leave [him] in the lurch’, leave him without support or assistance. 

[00:19:21] He insisted it was now time for his friend’s support and he urged Schur to discuss with Anna, his daughter, ending his pain and suffering.

[00:19:31] While the exact details of the event are not known, many biographers report that Schur administered doses of morphine between the 21st and 22nd of September. As a result, Freud fell into a coma and he was pronounced dead on the 23rd of September of 1939.

[00:19:51] After his death, Freud continued to have a profound influence on psychology and culture, due to his focus on the unconscious and his indication that much of what happens in our mind is hidden or buried.

[00:20:07] Anna, his daughter, also furthered her father’s work on psychoanalysis, and she became a notable child psychologist in her own right.

[00:20:17] Freud’s concepts provided a basis for future philosophers and artists, with ideas around the unconscious shaping the way we analyse works of literature and art still to this day. 

[00:20:30] However, many details within Freud’s theories have largely been rejected over the years. In the 1970s, there was a full-scale academic debate over Freud’s legitimacy, appropriately named the ‘Freud-wars’.

[00:20:46] Some figures proposed that Freud simply took concepts known for thousands of years and repurposed, recycled, them in the name of science, completely minimising any real scientific discovery from Freud.

[00:21:01] Many argued that his ideas were sexist and that he did not treat issues of sexual abuse with enough severity. His concepts that placed abuse in the context of hidden desires were completely unacceptable and highly damaging. 

[00:21:18] Even his daughter, Anna, faced her own fair share of scandal. 

[00:21:23] An American author called Jeffrey Masson, who was acting as Director of the Sigmund Freud Archives, discovered that Anna, Freud’s daughter, had been hiding many of Freud’s letters that dealt with cases of sexual abuse of children. 

[00:21:39] When Masson questioned Anna about this she fired him.

[00:21:43] Masson explained to The Atlantic magazine in 1984 that after speaking with others who were close to the Freud family: "I was given to understand that I had stumbled upon something that was better left alone".

[00:21:58] Ultimately, Masson came to argue that Freud had ignored and hidden many details in his own studies to strengthen his theory of psychoanalysis.

[00:22:08] Now, for better or worse, Freud has left a lasting legacy. 

[00:22:13] In death as in life, he is as controversial as ever, analysed and pored over as much as his own subjects ever were.

[00:22:22] For some, he is a complete fraud who did more harm than good and only dealt in pseudoscience, fake science.

[00:22:30] For others, he provided a way to think about understanding our subconscious, a way to try to understand who we really are, a way to explain our thoughts and feelings.

[00:22:42] Whatever side of the argument you come down on, it’s undeniable that he has left a huge mark on how we think about thought, how we think at how all of our minds work.

[00:22:54] He might not have been right about everything, and he certainly made mistakes, but as he famously said, “from error to error, one discovers the entire truth.” 

[00:23:08] Ok then, that is it for today’s episode on Sigmund Freud.

[00:23:13] I imagine that you knew something about Freud already, but whether you are a Freudian expert or whether you only knew a little bit about the man, I hope this was an interesting one.

[00:23:23] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:23:27] Here’s an open question - what do you think about Sigmund Freud?

[00:23:31] Was he a deeply insightful man who helps us understand our subconscious or a conman peddling in pseudoscience?

[00:23:39] What do you think we can learn from our dreams?

[00:23:42] Do they hold clues to our deepest darkest feelings, or are they simply passing thoughts in the night?

[00:23:49] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:52] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:24:00] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:05] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

Continue learning

Get immediate access to a more interesting way of improving your English
Become a member
Already a member? Login

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:11] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about Sigmund Freud; the pioneer of psychoanalysis, the study of the unconscious mind.

[00:00:32] To some, he is the man who created a vitally important way of understanding the human mind. 

[00:00:38] To others, he was a sex-obsessed pseudoscienst.

[00:00:43] Whatever you think of Sigmund Freud, he transformed, and in many ways shaped, how we think about ourselves; and, well, think about thinking!

[00:00:52] Freud’s theories on consciousness led him to new treatments for mental illness, some questionable and some still very much in use today – and turned him into a household name.

[00:01:04] But it was not an easy path to success; Freud faced discrimination, controversy, and tragedy along the way. 

[00:01:12] OK then, Sigmund Freud.

[00:01:16] Freud was born on the 6th of May of 1856 in Freiberg, in Moravia, which is now part of the Czech Republic. 

[00:01:24] His family were Jewish and lived in the predominantly Catholic city until they moved in 1860, to the Jewish neighbourhood of Leopoldstadt in Vienna.

[00:01:36] Freud’s family were likely attracted to the new liberating policies of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which ensured equal rights for Jews and the abolishment of ghettos. 

[00:01:49] And although Freud was a non-practising Jew his whole life, his heritage would lead to much hardship and pain.

[00:01:58] Freud’s early life was a time of strict societal expectations. 

[00:02:04] People were expected to follow gender roles; personal matters were to be kept private; sexual expression was completely taboo, completely forbidden; and mental health issues were not understood, instead of therapy there were dangerous drugs, asylums or even deadly brain surgeries.

[00:02:26] However, some things in the world were beginning to change. 

[00:02:31] In 1871, two years before Freud began studying Medicine at the University of Vienna, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man. The book proposed humans descended from apes and, as such, were subject to natural instincts and urges.

[00:02:51] Freud would go on to admit in his autobiography that Darwin’s theories ‘strongly attracted me, for they held out hopes of extraordinary advance in our understanding of the world’. 

[00:03:04] The changes in the understanding of the world from Darwin and many others, had a profound impact upon Freud’s own theories of the mind.

[00:03:14] After Freud got his doctorate degree in medicine, in 1882, he began working as a clinical assistant at the General Hospital in Vienna. 

[00:03:25] During this time, he met the woman who would become the love of his life, Martha Bernays, the daughter of an important Jewish family from Vienna.

[00:03:36] But Freud was not yet in a position to marry Martha, as he did not have enough money or the reputation to marry a woman of such high social status. 

[00:03:46] So, he really began to concentrate on advancing professionally, and to make a name for himself, so that Martha’s parents would agree to let him marry their daughter. 

[00:03:59] This would take some time.

[00:04:01] Freud began to research what he believed was a valuable and effective medical treatment … and it was, cocaine, which I should add was not illegal at the time. 

[00:04:14] Throughout the early 1880s, Freud studied how cocaine could be used as a local anaesthetic and a treatment for depression.

[00:04:23] He was also, undeniably, a big fan of the drug himself. 

[00:04:28] He wrote positively of the effects it had on him, claiming it helped him in social situations and made him feel energised, all without the negative effects of alcohol. 

[00:04:40] He believed in cocaine so much that in 1884, he published a paper which he described as ‘a song of praise to this magical substance’.

[00:04:51] However, Freud would soon come to regret these, somewhat, hasty judgements, when the negative and addictive effects of the drug became more widely known. 

[00:05:03] Even Freud’s own friend, a man named Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, who Freud had introduced to cocaine to combat his own morphine addiction, would go on to die of an overdose in 1891.

[00:05:17] Ultimately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Freud’s studies on cocaine did not have the effect on his career that he had hoped for. 

[00:05:27] In fact, they only weakened his standing, his reputation, in the scientific community. 

[00:05:33] This was not to be the big discovery Freud had hoped for, nor his path to marrying Martha.

[00:05:41] In the second half of the 1880s, though, his prospects began to improve. 

[00:05:46] In 1885, Freud went to Paris to work with the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, to study hypnosis and what was called, ‘hysteria’ – an outdated and generalised term for a variety of mental illnesses.

[00:06:04] The time spent with Charcot was deeply influential, as Freud saw how patients under hypnosis would explain desires, fears and memories that were not apparent in their conscious mind. 

[00:06:19] It introduced Freud to the idea of an unconscious mind lying within us.

[00:06:26] When Freud returned from Paris the following year, he opened his own practice to treat mental illness and began working with a man called Josef Breuer. 

[00:06:37] Breuer had also studied how hypnosis and talking could treat mental illness. He told Freud about a past patient of his named Anna O, whose symptoms had reportedly improved after talking openly about her experiences.

[00:06:56] Anna O was actually the one to coin the term, ‘talking cure’; and such a cure was ground-breaking in a world where sharing private thoughts was deemed inappropriate and impolite.

[00:07:11] Freud was captivated by this focus on talking, and it certainly influenced his own practice

[00:07:19] He stopped using hypnosis and focused purely on listening to patients who would talk to him while lying on a couch. 

[00:07:27] And while Freud was not yet a household name, he had finally made enough money to marry Martha, and they would go on to have six children over the next decade.

[00:07:39] Eventually, Breuer and Freud would go on to publish their book Studies on Hysteria in 1895. But as Freud continued to develop his own ideas around mental illness, a rift, a division, emerged with his collaborator. 

[00:07:57] Breuer soon ended their work together, as he did not agree with Freud’s fixation on sex and its role in the formation of mental disorders.

[00:08:08] In Breuer’s own words: ‘the plunging of sexuality in theory and practice is not to my taste’. 

[00:08:16] Indeed, it was not to the taste of most at this time, which made Freud’s theories all the more controversial. As we’ll come to discuss, to this day Freud’s fiercest critics claim he has a singular obsession with sex.

[00:08:34] It would be a year later in 1896 when the 40-year-old Freud would first coined the term ‘psychoanalysis’ to describe his own talking therapy. 

[00:08:45] The premise was that patients could recall experiences or emotions from their past that had been hidden in their unconscious; and by talking openly about these, a patient could confront and overcome them.

[00:09:00] Freud would continue to refine this practice over the next few years and used himself as a test subject following the death of his father. 

[00:09:11] Freud believed the emotions he felt following this loss were a result of repressed feelings surrounding experiences in his own childhood.

[00:09:21] To further his analysis, Freud turned to his dreams, and this was certainly controversial at the time. Dreams were not considered serious material worthy of scientific analysis – they were nonsense, fairy tales, and the product of a sleeping, barely functioning, mind.

[00:09:43] Characteristically undeterred though, not put off, by contemporary opinions, Freud went on to publish his findings in 1899, in what would become one of his most famous works: The Interpretation of Dreams. 

[00:09:59] Of course, people trying to interpret their dreams is nothing new, but Freud’s innovation was to approach this from a clinical perspective, from a scientific and medical point of view.

[00:10:13] The book was profound and of lasting influence, and it argued that dreams were an important element to the human psyche.

[00:10:23] Not only was Freud’s discussion of dreams so shocking, but his insistence that his theories were applicable to everyone, not just those suffering from mental illness, was hard to believe.

[00:10:38] The Interpretation of Dreams holds many complex concepts but its key point is that dreams make evident things that are happening in the unconscious, specifically, repressed fears and desires from childhood.

[00:10:54] It's in this book that Freud also introduced the provocative ‘Oedipus Complex’. 

[00:11:00] The name stems from the myth of Oedipus in Greek mythology, where the eponymous protagonist kills his father, in order to marry his mother. 

[00:11:10] If you’re familiar with Greek mythology, you’ll know this sort of thing is not too unusual.

[00:11:17] Nonetheless, Freud’s concept is named after the story of Oedipius because it theorised how a child feels in competition with their parent of the same sex, for possession of their parent of the opposite sex, how a son feels towards his father, or a daughter feels towards her mother.

[00:11:36] Despite all the ground-breaking and controversial discussions in the book though, it was not an immediate success, and it sold less than a hundred copies in its initial release. 

[00:11:49] And, unsurprisingly, it drew much criticism from the scientific and medical communities.

[00:11:56] But, once again, Freud would continue in spite of his critics, and in 1901 he published The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, which discusses what are now called Freudian slips

[00:12:10] A Freudian slip is also known as a ‘slip of the tongue’, it’s when we say something by accident. 

[00:12:17] But for Freud they are not just accidents or mistakes, they are the unconscious mind purposefully making its way to the surface.

[00:12:27] One example of this is that moment we all dreaded, we feared in school, accidentally calling a teacher mum or dad. 

[00:12:36] A Freudian analysis might see this as a child associating their teacher with their parent because they miss them and want to go home.

[00:12:46] Although many disagreed with Freud’s theories, as the years went on he continued to publish many papers and was appointed Professor of Neuropathology, at the University of Vienna. 

[00:12:58] Increasing numbers of people would come and listen to him lecture and he began to gain more followers.

[00:13:06] Even with the controversy surrounding his work, things were finally looking up for Freud, and he was getting the recognition that he believed he deserved. 

[00:13:16] By 1908, the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society was established, and Freud’s reputation began to spread across Europe and all the way to America.

[00:13:27] One friendship in particular helped Freud’s notoriety; it helped him become better known– that of Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist 19 years his junior, 19 years younger than him. Freud had hoped that Jung would help bring psychoanalysis into the mainstream

[00:13:47] Jung was younger, he was a fresh face, and most importantly, he was not Jewish.

[00:13:54] Freud was fully aware of the prejudice he faced as a Jew and the effect this had on his reputation. 

[00:14:03] Jung was free from such prejudice, and he would ensure that psychoanalysis would not become associated with Judaism and that it would be considered a science in its own right

[00:14:16] For a time, Jung was a great supporter and friend of Freud, they would engage in discussions lasting hours on end and Jung would defend his friend in the face of detractors

[00:14:29] Jung even became the president of the International Psychoanalytic Association, and accompanied Freud on important trips across the globe – trips that secured Freud’s growing fame and reputation.

[00:14:43] However, the relationship between the pair would not last. 

[00:14:48] Some people speculate, in a Freudian way, that Jung had a problem with Freud, viewing him as a kind of father figure, while Freud had sexual feelings towards Jung. 

[00:15:01] Whatever the reasons, by 1913, the pair broke off all contact and they would never see each other again.

[00:15:10] 1913 not only saw the end of this friendship but the end of the world as it was known, for a year later would see the start of the First World War.

[00:15:21] Freud was too old to serve in the war - he was 58 - but, as you might expect, the war had a major impact on his work. 

[00:15:31] Patients stopped attending, international activities halted, and the trauma of the war came very close to Freud’s home as his three sons were drafted into military service – luckily, though, they all survived.

[00:15:46] While Freud was not seeing as many patients, he concentrated on his research and wrote prolifically

[00:15:53] By 1920, Freud produced another of his most famous papers, called Beyond the Pleasure Principle. 

[00:16:00] Here, Freud introduces the concept of the three elements that comprise, that make up the human psyche: the Id, the Ego and Super-ego. 

[00:16:12] He would go on to develop the discussion on this theory in 1923.

[00:16:18] In a simplified way, the Id harbours our unconscious desires and pushes us to gain pleasure in life; the Ego is governed by reality and pragmatism, and functions as a regulator for the Id and Super-ego, the latter being concerned with morals, ideals and guilt. 

[00:16:39] So, we can think of the Id like a little devil on our shoulder, and the Super-ego an angel on the other.

[00:16:48] Beyond the Pleasure Principle also introduces the concept of the ‘Death Drive’, the notion or idea that all humans are driven towards death. Freud had, after all, declared that ‘the aim of all life is death’. 

[00:17:04] Freud had just lived through the horrors of the First World War, so this morbid cynicism does make some sense when you realise what he had seen.

[00:17:14] Now, 1923 was a significant year for Freud not only because of this theory, but also because, at the age of 67, he was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw, likely due to his lifelong addiction to cigars. 

[00:17:30] During the following ten years, Freud endured many painful surgeries and even had part of his jaw removed, although he never managed to quit the cigars.

[00:17:41] But this was not the only tragedy that would afflict Freud towards the end of his life, for the catastrophic tensions that would eventually lead to the Second World War soon intensified.

[00:17:53] In 1933, the Nazis took over Germany and given that Freud was Jewish, they burnt his books. 

[00:18:01] This led to his famous quip, his well-known saying, that: ‘What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burnt me; nowadays they are content with burning my books.’

[00:18:14] Despite the evident danger, Freud was determined to remain in Vienna and he largely underestimated the Nazi threat. 

[00:18:22] That was until 1938, when the Nazis raided his apartment and the Gestapo arrested his daughter, Anna. 

[00:18:30] This was a true wake up call for Freud and following this horrifying event, he and his wife and daughter fled to London.

[00:18:39] Tragically, four of Freud’s sisters could not get the right documents to leave with them, and they had to remain in Vienna, eventually being sent to concentration camps where they were killed.

[00:18:52] Shortly after arriving in London in 1939, war was officially declared. 

[00:18:58] Freud was beginning to lose his own battle, however. 

[00:19:01] He had grown weak and frail and was suffering greatly due to his cancer. 

[00:19:07] He sought help from his friend and doctor Max Schur, a fellow refugee.

[00:19:13] Freud reminded his friend of a promise that he would not ‘leave [him] in the lurch’, leave him without support or assistance. 

[00:19:21] He insisted it was now time for his friend’s support and he urged Schur to discuss with Anna, his daughter, ending his pain and suffering.

[00:19:31] While the exact details of the event are not known, many biographers report that Schur administered doses of morphine between the 21st and 22nd of September. As a result, Freud fell into a coma and he was pronounced dead on the 23rd of September of 1939.

[00:19:51] After his death, Freud continued to have a profound influence on psychology and culture, due to his focus on the unconscious and his indication that much of what happens in our mind is hidden or buried.

[00:20:07] Anna, his daughter, also furthered her father’s work on psychoanalysis, and she became a notable child psychologist in her own right.

[00:20:17] Freud’s concepts provided a basis for future philosophers and artists, with ideas around the unconscious shaping the way we analyse works of literature and art still to this day. 

[00:20:30] However, many details within Freud’s theories have largely been rejected over the years. In the 1970s, there was a full-scale academic debate over Freud’s legitimacy, appropriately named the ‘Freud-wars’.

[00:20:46] Some figures proposed that Freud simply took concepts known for thousands of years and repurposed, recycled, them in the name of science, completely minimising any real scientific discovery from Freud.

[00:21:01] Many argued that his ideas were sexist and that he did not treat issues of sexual abuse with enough severity. His concepts that placed abuse in the context of hidden desires were completely unacceptable and highly damaging. 

[00:21:18] Even his daughter, Anna, faced her own fair share of scandal. 

[00:21:23] An American author called Jeffrey Masson, who was acting as Director of the Sigmund Freud Archives, discovered that Anna, Freud’s daughter, had been hiding many of Freud’s letters that dealt with cases of sexual abuse of children. 

[00:21:39] When Masson questioned Anna about this she fired him.

[00:21:43] Masson explained to The Atlantic magazine in 1984 that after speaking with others who were close to the Freud family: "I was given to understand that I had stumbled upon something that was better left alone".

[00:21:58] Ultimately, Masson came to argue that Freud had ignored and hidden many details in his own studies to strengthen his theory of psychoanalysis.

[00:22:08] Now, for better or worse, Freud has left a lasting legacy. 

[00:22:13] In death as in life, he is as controversial as ever, analysed and pored over as much as his own subjects ever were.

[00:22:22] For some, he is a complete fraud who did more harm than good and only dealt in pseudoscience, fake science.

[00:22:30] For others, he provided a way to think about understanding our subconscious, a way to try to understand who we really are, a way to explain our thoughts and feelings.

[00:22:42] Whatever side of the argument you come down on, it’s undeniable that he has left a huge mark on how we think about thought, how we think at how all of our minds work.

[00:22:54] He might not have been right about everything, and he certainly made mistakes, but as he famously said, “from error to error, one discovers the entire truth.” 

[00:23:08] Ok then, that is it for today’s episode on Sigmund Freud.

[00:23:13] I imagine that you knew something about Freud already, but whether you are a Freudian expert or whether you only knew a little bit about the man, I hope this was an interesting one.

[00:23:23] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:23:27] Here’s an open question - what do you think about Sigmund Freud?

[00:23:31] Was he a deeply insightful man who helps us understand our subconscious or a conman peddling in pseudoscience?

[00:23:39] What do you think we can learn from our dreams?

[00:23:42] Do they hold clues to our deepest darkest feelings, or are they simply passing thoughts in the night?

[00:23:49] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:52] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:24:00] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:05] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:11] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about Sigmund Freud; the pioneer of psychoanalysis, the study of the unconscious mind.

[00:00:32] To some, he is the man who created a vitally important way of understanding the human mind. 

[00:00:38] To others, he was a sex-obsessed pseudoscienst.

[00:00:43] Whatever you think of Sigmund Freud, he transformed, and in many ways shaped, how we think about ourselves; and, well, think about thinking!

[00:00:52] Freud’s theories on consciousness led him to new treatments for mental illness, some questionable and some still very much in use today – and turned him into a household name.

[00:01:04] But it was not an easy path to success; Freud faced discrimination, controversy, and tragedy along the way. 

[00:01:12] OK then, Sigmund Freud.

[00:01:16] Freud was born on the 6th of May of 1856 in Freiberg, in Moravia, which is now part of the Czech Republic. 

[00:01:24] His family were Jewish and lived in the predominantly Catholic city until they moved in 1860, to the Jewish neighbourhood of Leopoldstadt in Vienna.

[00:01:36] Freud’s family were likely attracted to the new liberating policies of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which ensured equal rights for Jews and the abolishment of ghettos. 

[00:01:49] And although Freud was a non-practising Jew his whole life, his heritage would lead to much hardship and pain.

[00:01:58] Freud’s early life was a time of strict societal expectations. 

[00:02:04] People were expected to follow gender roles; personal matters were to be kept private; sexual expression was completely taboo, completely forbidden; and mental health issues were not understood, instead of therapy there were dangerous drugs, asylums or even deadly brain surgeries.

[00:02:26] However, some things in the world were beginning to change. 

[00:02:31] In 1871, two years before Freud began studying Medicine at the University of Vienna, Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man. The book proposed humans descended from apes and, as such, were subject to natural instincts and urges.

[00:02:51] Freud would go on to admit in his autobiography that Darwin’s theories ‘strongly attracted me, for they held out hopes of extraordinary advance in our understanding of the world’. 

[00:03:04] The changes in the understanding of the world from Darwin and many others, had a profound impact upon Freud’s own theories of the mind.

[00:03:14] After Freud got his doctorate degree in medicine, in 1882, he began working as a clinical assistant at the General Hospital in Vienna. 

[00:03:25] During this time, he met the woman who would become the love of his life, Martha Bernays, the daughter of an important Jewish family from Vienna.

[00:03:36] But Freud was not yet in a position to marry Martha, as he did not have enough money or the reputation to marry a woman of such high social status. 

[00:03:46] So, he really began to concentrate on advancing professionally, and to make a name for himself, so that Martha’s parents would agree to let him marry their daughter. 

[00:03:59] This would take some time.

[00:04:01] Freud began to research what he believed was a valuable and effective medical treatment … and it was, cocaine, which I should add was not illegal at the time. 

[00:04:14] Throughout the early 1880s, Freud studied how cocaine could be used as a local anaesthetic and a treatment for depression.

[00:04:23] He was also, undeniably, a big fan of the drug himself. 

[00:04:28] He wrote positively of the effects it had on him, claiming it helped him in social situations and made him feel energised, all without the negative effects of alcohol. 

[00:04:40] He believed in cocaine so much that in 1884, he published a paper which he described as ‘a song of praise to this magical substance’.

[00:04:51] However, Freud would soon come to regret these, somewhat, hasty judgements, when the negative and addictive effects of the drug became more widely known. 

[00:05:03] Even Freud’s own friend, a man named Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, who Freud had introduced to cocaine to combat his own morphine addiction, would go on to die of an overdose in 1891.

[00:05:17] Ultimately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Freud’s studies on cocaine did not have the effect on his career that he had hoped for. 

[00:05:27] In fact, they only weakened his standing, his reputation, in the scientific community. 

[00:05:33] This was not to be the big discovery Freud had hoped for, nor his path to marrying Martha.

[00:05:41] In the second half of the 1880s, though, his prospects began to improve. 

[00:05:46] In 1885, Freud went to Paris to work with the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, to study hypnosis and what was called, ‘hysteria’ – an outdated and generalised term for a variety of mental illnesses.

[00:06:04] The time spent with Charcot was deeply influential, as Freud saw how patients under hypnosis would explain desires, fears and memories that were not apparent in their conscious mind. 

[00:06:19] It introduced Freud to the idea of an unconscious mind lying within us.

[00:06:26] When Freud returned from Paris the following year, he opened his own practice to treat mental illness and began working with a man called Josef Breuer. 

[00:06:37] Breuer had also studied how hypnosis and talking could treat mental illness. He told Freud about a past patient of his named Anna O, whose symptoms had reportedly improved after talking openly about her experiences.

[00:06:56] Anna O was actually the one to coin the term, ‘talking cure’; and such a cure was ground-breaking in a world where sharing private thoughts was deemed inappropriate and impolite.

[00:07:11] Freud was captivated by this focus on talking, and it certainly influenced his own practice

[00:07:19] He stopped using hypnosis and focused purely on listening to patients who would talk to him while lying on a couch. 

[00:07:27] And while Freud was not yet a household name, he had finally made enough money to marry Martha, and they would go on to have six children over the next decade.

[00:07:39] Eventually, Breuer and Freud would go on to publish their book Studies on Hysteria in 1895. But as Freud continued to develop his own ideas around mental illness, a rift, a division, emerged with his collaborator. 

[00:07:57] Breuer soon ended their work together, as he did not agree with Freud’s fixation on sex and its role in the formation of mental disorders.

[00:08:08] In Breuer’s own words: ‘the plunging of sexuality in theory and practice is not to my taste’. 

[00:08:16] Indeed, it was not to the taste of most at this time, which made Freud’s theories all the more controversial. As we’ll come to discuss, to this day Freud’s fiercest critics claim he has a singular obsession with sex.

[00:08:34] It would be a year later in 1896 when the 40-year-old Freud would first coined the term ‘psychoanalysis’ to describe his own talking therapy. 

[00:08:45] The premise was that patients could recall experiences or emotions from their past that had been hidden in their unconscious; and by talking openly about these, a patient could confront and overcome them.

[00:09:00] Freud would continue to refine this practice over the next few years and used himself as a test subject following the death of his father. 

[00:09:11] Freud believed the emotions he felt following this loss were a result of repressed feelings surrounding experiences in his own childhood.

[00:09:21] To further his analysis, Freud turned to his dreams, and this was certainly controversial at the time. Dreams were not considered serious material worthy of scientific analysis – they were nonsense, fairy tales, and the product of a sleeping, barely functioning, mind.

[00:09:43] Characteristically undeterred though, not put off, by contemporary opinions, Freud went on to publish his findings in 1899, in what would become one of his most famous works: The Interpretation of Dreams. 

[00:09:59] Of course, people trying to interpret their dreams is nothing new, but Freud’s innovation was to approach this from a clinical perspective, from a scientific and medical point of view.

[00:10:13] The book was profound and of lasting influence, and it argued that dreams were an important element to the human psyche.

[00:10:23] Not only was Freud’s discussion of dreams so shocking, but his insistence that his theories were applicable to everyone, not just those suffering from mental illness, was hard to believe.

[00:10:38] The Interpretation of Dreams holds many complex concepts but its key point is that dreams make evident things that are happening in the unconscious, specifically, repressed fears and desires from childhood.

[00:10:54] It's in this book that Freud also introduced the provocative ‘Oedipus Complex’. 

[00:11:00] The name stems from the myth of Oedipus in Greek mythology, where the eponymous protagonist kills his father, in order to marry his mother. 

[00:11:10] If you’re familiar with Greek mythology, you’ll know this sort of thing is not too unusual.

[00:11:17] Nonetheless, Freud’s concept is named after the story of Oedipius because it theorised how a child feels in competition with their parent of the same sex, for possession of their parent of the opposite sex, how a son feels towards his father, or a daughter feels towards her mother.

[00:11:36] Despite all the ground-breaking and controversial discussions in the book though, it was not an immediate success, and it sold less than a hundred copies in its initial release. 

[00:11:49] And, unsurprisingly, it drew much criticism from the scientific and medical communities.

[00:11:56] But, once again, Freud would continue in spite of his critics, and in 1901 he published The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, which discusses what are now called Freudian slips

[00:12:10] A Freudian slip is also known as a ‘slip of the tongue’, it’s when we say something by accident. 

[00:12:17] But for Freud they are not just accidents or mistakes, they are the unconscious mind purposefully making its way to the surface.

[00:12:27] One example of this is that moment we all dreaded, we feared in school, accidentally calling a teacher mum or dad. 

[00:12:36] A Freudian analysis might see this as a child associating their teacher with their parent because they miss them and want to go home.

[00:12:46] Although many disagreed with Freud’s theories, as the years went on he continued to publish many papers and was appointed Professor of Neuropathology, at the University of Vienna. 

[00:12:58] Increasing numbers of people would come and listen to him lecture and he began to gain more followers.

[00:13:06] Even with the controversy surrounding his work, things were finally looking up for Freud, and he was getting the recognition that he believed he deserved. 

[00:13:16] By 1908, the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society was established, and Freud’s reputation began to spread across Europe and all the way to America.

[00:13:27] One friendship in particular helped Freud’s notoriety; it helped him become better known– that of Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist 19 years his junior, 19 years younger than him. Freud had hoped that Jung would help bring psychoanalysis into the mainstream

[00:13:47] Jung was younger, he was a fresh face, and most importantly, he was not Jewish.

[00:13:54] Freud was fully aware of the prejudice he faced as a Jew and the effect this had on his reputation. 

[00:14:03] Jung was free from such prejudice, and he would ensure that psychoanalysis would not become associated with Judaism and that it would be considered a science in its own right

[00:14:16] For a time, Jung was a great supporter and friend of Freud, they would engage in discussions lasting hours on end and Jung would defend his friend in the face of detractors

[00:14:29] Jung even became the president of the International Psychoanalytic Association, and accompanied Freud on important trips across the globe – trips that secured Freud’s growing fame and reputation.

[00:14:43] However, the relationship between the pair would not last. 

[00:14:48] Some people speculate, in a Freudian way, that Jung had a problem with Freud, viewing him as a kind of father figure, while Freud had sexual feelings towards Jung. 

[00:15:01] Whatever the reasons, by 1913, the pair broke off all contact and they would never see each other again.

[00:15:10] 1913 not only saw the end of this friendship but the end of the world as it was known, for a year later would see the start of the First World War.

[00:15:21] Freud was too old to serve in the war - he was 58 - but, as you might expect, the war had a major impact on his work. 

[00:15:31] Patients stopped attending, international activities halted, and the trauma of the war came very close to Freud’s home as his three sons were drafted into military service – luckily, though, they all survived.

[00:15:46] While Freud was not seeing as many patients, he concentrated on his research and wrote prolifically

[00:15:53] By 1920, Freud produced another of his most famous papers, called Beyond the Pleasure Principle. 

[00:16:00] Here, Freud introduces the concept of the three elements that comprise, that make up the human psyche: the Id, the Ego and Super-ego. 

[00:16:12] He would go on to develop the discussion on this theory in 1923.

[00:16:18] In a simplified way, the Id harbours our unconscious desires and pushes us to gain pleasure in life; the Ego is governed by reality and pragmatism, and functions as a regulator for the Id and Super-ego, the latter being concerned with morals, ideals and guilt. 

[00:16:39] So, we can think of the Id like a little devil on our shoulder, and the Super-ego an angel on the other.

[00:16:48] Beyond the Pleasure Principle also introduces the concept of the ‘Death Drive’, the notion or idea that all humans are driven towards death. Freud had, after all, declared that ‘the aim of all life is death’. 

[00:17:04] Freud had just lived through the horrors of the First World War, so this morbid cynicism does make some sense when you realise what he had seen.

[00:17:14] Now, 1923 was a significant year for Freud not only because of this theory, but also because, at the age of 67, he was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw, likely due to his lifelong addiction to cigars. 

[00:17:30] During the following ten years, Freud endured many painful surgeries and even had part of his jaw removed, although he never managed to quit the cigars.

[00:17:41] But this was not the only tragedy that would afflict Freud towards the end of his life, for the catastrophic tensions that would eventually lead to the Second World War soon intensified.

[00:17:53] In 1933, the Nazis took over Germany and given that Freud was Jewish, they burnt his books. 

[00:18:01] This led to his famous quip, his well-known saying, that: ‘What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burnt me; nowadays they are content with burning my books.’

[00:18:14] Despite the evident danger, Freud was determined to remain in Vienna and he largely underestimated the Nazi threat. 

[00:18:22] That was until 1938, when the Nazis raided his apartment and the Gestapo arrested his daughter, Anna. 

[00:18:30] This was a true wake up call for Freud and following this horrifying event, he and his wife and daughter fled to London.

[00:18:39] Tragically, four of Freud’s sisters could not get the right documents to leave with them, and they had to remain in Vienna, eventually being sent to concentration camps where they were killed.

[00:18:52] Shortly after arriving in London in 1939, war was officially declared. 

[00:18:58] Freud was beginning to lose his own battle, however. 

[00:19:01] He had grown weak and frail and was suffering greatly due to his cancer. 

[00:19:07] He sought help from his friend and doctor Max Schur, a fellow refugee.

[00:19:13] Freud reminded his friend of a promise that he would not ‘leave [him] in the lurch’, leave him without support or assistance. 

[00:19:21] He insisted it was now time for his friend’s support and he urged Schur to discuss with Anna, his daughter, ending his pain and suffering.

[00:19:31] While the exact details of the event are not known, many biographers report that Schur administered doses of morphine between the 21st and 22nd of September. As a result, Freud fell into a coma and he was pronounced dead on the 23rd of September of 1939.

[00:19:51] After his death, Freud continued to have a profound influence on psychology and culture, due to his focus on the unconscious and his indication that much of what happens in our mind is hidden or buried.

[00:20:07] Anna, his daughter, also furthered her father’s work on psychoanalysis, and she became a notable child psychologist in her own right.

[00:20:17] Freud’s concepts provided a basis for future philosophers and artists, with ideas around the unconscious shaping the way we analyse works of literature and art still to this day. 

[00:20:30] However, many details within Freud’s theories have largely been rejected over the years. In the 1970s, there was a full-scale academic debate over Freud’s legitimacy, appropriately named the ‘Freud-wars’.

[00:20:46] Some figures proposed that Freud simply took concepts known for thousands of years and repurposed, recycled, them in the name of science, completely minimising any real scientific discovery from Freud.

[00:21:01] Many argued that his ideas were sexist and that he did not treat issues of sexual abuse with enough severity. His concepts that placed abuse in the context of hidden desires were completely unacceptable and highly damaging. 

[00:21:18] Even his daughter, Anna, faced her own fair share of scandal. 

[00:21:23] An American author called Jeffrey Masson, who was acting as Director of the Sigmund Freud Archives, discovered that Anna, Freud’s daughter, had been hiding many of Freud’s letters that dealt with cases of sexual abuse of children. 

[00:21:39] When Masson questioned Anna about this she fired him.

[00:21:43] Masson explained to The Atlantic magazine in 1984 that after speaking with others who were close to the Freud family: "I was given to understand that I had stumbled upon something that was better left alone".

[00:21:58] Ultimately, Masson came to argue that Freud had ignored and hidden many details in his own studies to strengthen his theory of psychoanalysis.

[00:22:08] Now, for better or worse, Freud has left a lasting legacy. 

[00:22:13] In death as in life, he is as controversial as ever, analysed and pored over as much as his own subjects ever were.

[00:22:22] For some, he is a complete fraud who did more harm than good and only dealt in pseudoscience, fake science.

[00:22:30] For others, he provided a way to think about understanding our subconscious, a way to try to understand who we really are, a way to explain our thoughts and feelings.

[00:22:42] Whatever side of the argument you come down on, it’s undeniable that he has left a huge mark on how we think about thought, how we think at how all of our minds work.

[00:22:54] He might not have been right about everything, and he certainly made mistakes, but as he famously said, “from error to error, one discovers the entire truth.” 

[00:23:08] Ok then, that is it for today’s episode on Sigmund Freud.

[00:23:13] I imagine that you knew something about Freud already, but whether you are a Freudian expert or whether you only knew a little bit about the man, I hope this was an interesting one.

[00:23:23] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:23:27] Here’s an open question - what do you think about Sigmund Freud?

[00:23:31] Was he a deeply insightful man who helps us understand our subconscious or a conman peddling in pseudoscience?

[00:23:39] What do you think we can learn from our dreams?

[00:23:42] Do they hold clues to our deepest darkest feelings, or are they simply passing thoughts in the night?

[00:23:49] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:52] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:24:00] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:24:05] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]