Freud, Sigmund (1856–1939)
Bertram J. Cohler
Sigmund Freud wanted to show the importance of a force outside of everyday experiencing that we cannot know directly which governs our actions—the unconscious part of the mind. According to Freud, the unconscious is the source of wishes arising in childhood that are socially reprehensible and blocked from consciousness. We can only be certain of the unconscious because wishes regarding intimacy with care-givers that emerge in the preschool years attempt partial satisfaction, disguised as slips of the tongue or dreams. Freud relied both on the force of his argument as a distinguished scientist and on his autobiography in demonstrating that there is an unconscious. If he had used reports by his clients, his theory might have been dismissed as the accounts of troubled persons. Further, considerations of confidentiality limited the detail he could provide from his clients' accounts. For this reason, to understand his theory it is particularly relevant to ...