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20th-Century Genius Award Paper - Essay Example

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20th-Century Genius Award Paper

While most of you are cursorily familiar with Sigmund Freud, the extent and influence of his work is truly staggering. Through numerous published texts and consultation work Freud has influenced not just psychology, but nearly all disciplines within the liberal arts, and become a cornerstone of the modern vernacular. This essay considers Freud’s significant scientific and cultural contributions, in demonstrating why he was chosen for this prestigious award. Life Sigmund Freud was born in 1857 in the Moravian town of Pribor. At the time this region was part of the Austrian Empire, but has since become part of the Czech Republic. While Freud’s parent experienced significant poverty because of the economic climate, Freud was still able to attain a quality education. Freud excelled as a student and would go on to study under Darwinist Professor Karl Claus. During this period Freud widely read philosophy and came to understand many theoretical aspects that would later be incorporated into his own work. While Freud was initially interested in law, this concern would soon shift to philosophy, and ultimately the emerging field of psychology. In 1885 Freud would begin his study of psychology in Paris under Jean-Martin Charcot. After completing his study he would go on to open his own medical practice. A year later he would marry Martha Bernays. Through Freud’s medical practice, he made great gains in terms of developing his psychological theories that would ultimately become articulated into psychoanalysis. Previously the main approach to psychological challenges had been hypnosis. Freud would begin his practice by implementing hypnosis, but would later abandon this for an approach he referred to as the talking cure. As Freud’s practice further developed he would begin to write a substantial variety of texts that would eventually form into a comprehensive psychological approach known as psychoanalysis. After a truly outstanding life, that included bouts with cancer and an escape from Nazi Germany, Freud died in 1939. Survey of Contributions Sigmund Freud made a tremendous amount of contributions to the study of psychology. Freud developed a series of psychosexual stages of development that characterize the human development process from birth. As the child is born they enter the oral phase of development, and then subsequently progress into the anal, phallic, latency, and genital phases. The stages functioned to develop the sexuality of the individual, from one of polymorphous perversity to heterosexuality. It was Freud’s theoretical understanding that if difficulties were encountered in any of these stages that they would cause unconscious psychic dysfunctions later in life. At birth the child begins the oral stage of psychosexual development. This stage lasts until the individual is approximately two years old. As the moniker suggests, this stage of development is characterized by infantile fixation with the mouth. Examples of this include thumb sucking, breast-feeding, and the placement of other various objects in the mouth. Freud’s concept of the Id is notable here, as he believed that the child in the oral stage is Id driven, as the ego and superego have not entirely developed; furthermore, as the child’s self-concept has not emerged, they are driven by the pleasure principle. It is during this stage that the child’s self-concept forms, as they recognize that they are a distinct entity the rest of their environment. The child also notably experiences weaning – that is, their first sense of abandonment – as their mother or parental guardian leaves them alone. Freud believed that this experience greatly contributed to ego formation. The next psychosexual stage is the anal ...Show more


While a great amount of consideration was given to candidates throughout the 20th century, the committee finally decided upon an individual that fundamentally restructured the very paradigm of psychology – Sigmund Freud. …
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20th-Century Genius Award Paper essay example
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