~ TLW ~ Conversation Questions and Biography ~

Bio 110 ~ Sigmund Freud ~ Interpreter of Dreams ~ Courtesy of  Biography.com

Sigmund Freud was born in the Austrian town of Freiberg on May 6, 1856. When he was four years old his family moved to Vienna, the town where he would live and work for most of the remainder of his life. He received his medical degree in 1881 and became engaged to marry the following year. His marriage produced six children—the youngest of whom, Anna, was to herself become a distinguished psychoanalyst.


After graduation, Freud promptly set up a private practice and began treating various psychological disorders. Considering himself first and foremost a scientist, rather than a doctor, he endeavored to understand the journey of human knowledge and experience.


Early in his career, Freud became greatly influenced by the work of his friend and Viennese colleague, Josef Breuer, who had discovered that when he encouraged a hysterical patient to talk uninhibitedly about the earliest occurrences of the symptoms, the symptoms sometimes gradually abated.


Inspired by Breuer, Freud posited that neuroses had their origins in deeply traumatic experiences that had occurred in the patient's past. He believed that the original occurrences had been forgotten and hidden from consciousness. His treatment was to empower his patients to recall the experience and bring it to consciousness, and in doing so, confront it both intellectually and emotionally. He believed one could then discharge it and rid oneself of the neurotic symptoms. Freud and Breuer published their theories and findings in Studies in Hysteria (1895).


After much work together, Breuer ended the relationship, feeling that Freud placed too much emphasis on the sexual origins of a patient's neuroses and was completely unwilling to consider other viewpoints. Freud continued to refine his own argument and in 1900, after a serious period of self-analysis, published The Interpretation of Dreams. He followed it in 1901 with The Psychopathology of Everyday Life and in 1905 with Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.


The great reverence that was later given to Freud's theories was not in evidence for some years. Most of his contemporaries felt, like Breuer, that his emphasis on sexuality was either scandalous or overplayed. In 1909, he was invited to give a series of lectures in the United States. It was after these visits and the publication of his 1916 book, Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, that his fame grew exponentially.


Freud's many theories—including those about "psychic energy," the Oedipus complex and the importance of dreams—were no doubt influenced by other scientific discoveries of his day. Charles Darwin's understanding of humankind as a progressive element of the animal kingdom certainly informed Freud's investigation of human behavior.


Freud's work has been both rapturously praised and hotly critiqued, but no one has influenced the science of psychology as intensely as Sigmund Freud. After a life of constant inquiry, he committed suicide after requesting a lethal dose of morphine from his doctor while exiled in England in 1939, following a battle with oral cancer.


~ Selected Quotes by Sigmund Freud ~ Courtesy ~ GoodReads.com


1) One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.


2) Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.


3) We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love.


4) Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility,

     and most people are frightened of responsibility.


5) Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.


6) Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.


7) He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret.

     If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.


8) Religious doctrines ¡¦ are all illusions, they do not admit of proof,

    and no one can be compelled to consider them as true or to believe in them.


9) A woman should soften but not weaken a man.


10) Whoever loves becomes humble. Those who love have , so to speak , pawned a part of their narcissism.


~ General Conversation Questions ~


Group A


1) Freud¡¯s daughter joined his profession. Do you know anyone who has ¡°followed in their family¡¯s

    footsteps¡±? Tell.

2) Do you consider psychology a science or part of humanities (such as language)? Explain. Discuss.

3) Freud considered mental illness as ¡°occurrences¡± rooted deeply in the past. What do you think?

4) Do you believe patients can ¡°talk their way through¡± their mental illnesses? How or why not?

5) Can people analyze themselves honestly? If so, How do you think it¡¯s possible? Explain.

6) Why do you think Freud became so famous? Is his work still controversial? Why or why not?

7) What story is the Oedipus Complex based on? How about the Electra Complex? Describe.


Group B


1) How do you think Darwin¡¯s view of evolution can inform the work in psychology or philosophy?

2) Freud committed suicide due to the prolonged pain of cancer. Do you think euthanasia is acceptable?

3) Can ¡°the years of struggle¡± (for example, lack of money) eventually become beautiful memories?

4) Do you think most people are ¡°frightened of responsibility¡±? How does freedom involve 

    responsibility? Discuss.

5) How can personal ¡°vulnerabilities¡± evolve into personal ¡°strength¡±? Can you give examples?

6) Do you think that if you ¡°bury¡± your emotions, they will come back to haunt you? Discuss. Explain.

7) Are all religious doctrines ¡°illusions¡±? Do we need them? Discuss.


Challenge: Make your own follow-up questions and discuss them.




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1) Watch and Listen to the biographical video and read the text overview

2) Clarify meaning as a class. Student/Teacher reads a paragraph. Student summarizes

3) In pairs or in groups, discuss the biographical content and quotations

4) In pairs or in groups, discuss the conversation questions (include your own questions)

5) As a class, take turns using the conversation questions to expand your ideas

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