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Freud, Sigmund (1856 - 1939)

Freud is bound to be mentioned sooner or later whenever psychology is discussed. Even when his name is not cited, his ideas and terminology are frequently referred to, often without realizing their origins are owed to his work. Terms such as "Oedipus Complex" and "repression", for example, are classified as general knowledge nowadays.

Sigmund Freud was born on 6th May 1856 in Príbor (Freiberg) in northern Moravia. He studied medicine before graduating from Vienna University in 1881. Freud’s particular interest was neurology. As part of his research in the field of nervous disorders, he came across the narcotic cocaine and its painkilling qualities. He supplemented electrotherapy, the common method of treatment during the period, with hypnosis. Together with Josef Breuer, Freud developed a procedure to treat psychic disorders through abreaction, that is the discharge or catharsis of repressed traumatic experiences. This represented a first step towards the method of psychoanalysis, which Freud was later to develop.

Psychoanalysis combined psychology as practiced hitherto with knowledge of the subconscious and the resulting insights into the dynamics of sexual desire. Freud maintained that libido was man’s principal motivation, to which he later added the death drive as a counterpart. In addition to his research in psychology and psychoanalysis, Freud studied various cultural and philosophical questions. His influence was thus felt not only in the field of psychology, but in other areas of intellectual life. Freud’s best-known work is "The Interpretation of Dreams", which was first published in 1900.

In 1938 Freud emigrated to London, where he died on 23rd September 1939. Back in Vienna, Freud’s former practice at Berggasse 19, 1090 Vienna was converted into the Sigmund Freud Museum, which countless visitors flock to until this very day.

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