Reflections on how Sigmund Freuds Theories Stand up in Modern Society

“The unconscious is terribly threatening,” says Dr. Glen O. Gabbard, professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine. “It suggests we are moved by forces we cannot see or control, and this is a severe wound to our narcissism.”

On May 6, 2007, Sigmund Freud would have been 151 years of age, born to a good-natured Jewish wool merchant and a lively mother who was 20 years younger than her husband. A highly intelligent young boy, at the age of five his family moved from Freiberg, Moravia, to Vienna-the love of his life, where he entered medical school as the head of his class. Over the years, he eventually became friends with many other similar-minded individuals, which became the core of the new psychoanalytic movement.

Indirectly, the theory of the conscious mind was associated with Sigmund Freud, but he never actually invented its original idea. Defined as “an awareness of where a person is at in a particular moment”, Freud chose to work with the preconscious mind, which he thought was a separate entity from the conscious state-of which today’s society has no problem accepting, even though Freud considered it the smallest area in the mind to deal with at this turn of the century.

His undoing until quite recently are the unconscious and repressed memories, involving sex as a motivating force for infants and adults. Recent attempts to prove his theories are still being made, while being validated through testing and brain-imaging high-technology of the unconscious mind. In Freud’s times, he called this mental level the source of a person’s individual motivations-food, sex, neurotic compulsions, or the motivations of highly created geniuses such as artists and musicians. Not readily available to us on a conscious level, he felt these suppressed memories or unconscious states were available to us only in disguised form, referred to as repressed memories and denial. This disguised form would come through with psychoanalysis-in other words, talking to someone who is receptive and sympathetic-according to Freud. This was the beginning of our present day psychology, a baby in the medical field but one with power.

Today, most psychotic or individuals with suppressed issues do not lie on a therapy couch for hours and weeks on end. The couch is gone, but they do attend talk therapies with the Jungian and Adlerian analyses that are present in the psychology fields of today. Other forms of therapy associated with today’s medical fields include cognitive behavioral and psychodynamic therapy-all owing their basis to Sigmund Freud’s influence on the world in changing people’s thinking.

Part of the controversy surrounding Freud during his time was due to the fact he did not like his ideas or theories rejected-in fact, he would not have anything to do with those who disagreed with him, surrounding himself with those who agreed with him. Victorian ideas of the day refused to accept the sexual ideas that were the product of his theories, causing a lot of the lack of popularity and controversy over the years until after his death. It is just recently that students and researchers alike, are bringing to the forefront the subject of psychoanalysis and his influence on it.

At the US Embassy at Vienna’s lecture in 2004, Freud’s work was labeled as the “theory of the human mind,” “a form of therapy,” and “a method of investigation into culture and the arts,” as Fulbright guest professor Peter L. Rudnytsky spoke of the new attitude of scholars and researchers toward Freud’s psychoanalysis, in addition to his relevance in Austria and the United States. He spoke of Freud as being a classic, to be compared to Shakespeare.