argument top image

What do we know about Sigmund Freud's theories? Show more Show less
Back to question

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), commonly referred to as "the father of psychoanalysis" was an Austrian neurologist and is generally recognized as one of the most influential and authoritative thinkers of the twentieth century. He remains a well-recognised figure and he and his ideas are still frequently referenced in pop culture. Freud has been influential in two related but distinct ways. He simultaneously developed a theory of the human mind and human behaviour, as well as clinical techniques for attempting to help neurotics. He popularised the ideas of the unconscious, defense mechanisms, Freudian slips and dream symbolism, while also making a long-lasting impact on fields as diverse as literature, film, Marxist and feminist theories, literary criticism, philosophy and psychology.

Everything we know is questionable Show more Show less

Freud carefully curated his own story, image and legacy and destroyed his personal papers at least twice, once in 1885 and again in 1907.
< (5 of 5)

Freud didn’t invent psychoanalysis

Freud is not the true father of psychoanalysis; it was invented by Joseph Breuer.
< (1 of 2) Next argument >

The Argument

The origin of Freud's early work with psychoanalysis can be linked to Joseph Breuer. Breuer who became famous after treating a young woman, diagnosed with what was called female hysteria, Anna O, with kindness and allowing her to talk. He said his patients all reported being sexually abused or had fantasised about it. Freud's said he had uncovered ‘unconscious’ memories of early childhood sexual abuse for every single one his patients from the mid-1890s, who all showed the symptoms of 'hysteria' and obsessional neurosis derived from in infancy. However, a close reading of his papers and letters from this period indicates this was untrue – instead, he analytically inferred the supposed incidents by a procedure heavily dependent on the symbolic (subjective) interpretation of somatic symptoms.

Counter arguments

Freud did actually credit Breuer with the discovery of the psychoanalytical method.


[P1] Freud is not the true founder of psychoanalysis.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] This does not decrease Freud's achievements.



Not sure yet? Read more ↑


This page was last edited on Monday, 23 Mar 2020 at 12:11 UTC

Explore related arguments