Sociology Index

Sigmund Freud

Among distinguished sociologists, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), was an Austrian neurologist and the founding father of psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud developed theories about the unconscious mind and the mechanism of repression. Freud postulated the existence of libido, the energy with which mental process and structures are invested.

Sigmund Freud drew on psychoanalysis to contribute to the interpretation and critique of culture. Sigmund Freud along with Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche developed the "school of suspicion." Sigmund Freud's work has influenced intellectual thought and popular culture to a great extent.

Sigmund Freud interpreted Leonardo da Vinci's (1910) paintings psychoanalytically. Sigmund Freud argued that paintings like 'Madonna' and 'The Virgin and Child with St Anne' were products of Leonardo's homosexuality, rejection of parental authority and narcissism. Childhood sexuality was outlined in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905); conception of the dynamics of personality was published in The Ego and the Id (1923). It was Sigmund Freud's perspective on the conflict between the instinctual gratification of the individual and the requirements of social order which was particularly influential in sociology.

In The Future of an Illusion (1927), Civilization and its Discontents (1930), and Moses and Monotheism (1934-8) Sigmund Freud emphasized the contradictions between the satisfaction of sexuality and aggression for the individual and the importance of social control for civilization.

Sigmund Freud's theories have been influential in both sociology and Marxism. Talcott Parsons used Freud's account of personality development to provide the psychological underpinnings of the socialization process. Louis Pierre Althusser referred to Sigmund Freud's discovery of the unconscious as parallel to Marx's discovery of the laws of modes of production. In the Frankfurt School, psychoanalytical theories were used to develop a materialist conception of personality as a companion to Marx's materialist analysis of society.

Sigmund Freud's works include The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), Totem and Taboo (1913), and The Ego and the Id (1923).

Psychonalysis  is PSYCHO- + ANALYSIS: Analysis of the unconscious forces believed to affect the mind; specifically, a theory of personality, motivation, and neurosis derived from Freudian analysis, based on the interaction of conscious, preconscious, and unconscious levels of the mind (classified as ego, id, and superego) and the repression of the sexual instinct.