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Ger 272 - example module

Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalyst

An explanation of this page setup for students:  what I've done is replicate the Freud module on my own website. I've laid out the six content items (Introduction; ProfMoment; Freud's Interpretive Method; Pleasure vs Reality; Criticism of Freud; Freud vs. CBT) on one page, with links to media on the right. An alternative approach would have been to have six pages - one for each content item - along with a landing page similar to this one, but with less content and just links to the various content items.

This is just one example of how you might do your website. Feel free to explore other ideas and approaches. Be creative! Whatever you do, always keep in mind that you want it set up in a way that makes it easy for your readers/users to find their way around.


This somewhat lengthy Encyclopedia Britannica article (Freud lived a long life in which he wrote a lot, so it makes sense that the article will be lengthy) gives a thorough introduction to Freud's work.

ProfMoment: Sigmund Freud

After you've been dazzled by the cinematic brilliance of this ProfMoment, consider this: in The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud developed his notion that dreams fulfill wishes. In the book, he starts with this premise

the dream is the fulfilment of a wish

and then expanded it to this:

the dream is the (disguised) fulfilment of a (repressed, suppressed) wish.

So much of Freud's work depends on his interpretive style. In Chapter Four of The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud provides numerous examples of patients who try to show him that dreams can't be the fulfilment of wishes. Freund interprets these dreams to show that they are the disguised fulfilment of suppressed wishes. Here's an example:

Yet another dream of a more gloomy character was offered me by a female patient in contradiction of my theory of the wish-dream. This patient, a young girl, began as follows: 'You remember that my sister has now only one boy, Charles. She lost the elder one, Otto, while I was still living with her. Otto was my favourite; it was I who really brought him up. I like the other little fellow, too, but, of course, not nearly so much as his dead brother. Now I dreamt last night that I saw Charles lying dead before me. He was lying in his little coffin, his hands folded, there were candles all about; and, in short, it was just as it was at the time of little Otto's death, which gave me such a shock. Now tell me, what does this mean? You know me -- am I really so bad as to wish that my sister should lose the only child she has left? Or does the dream mean that I wish that Charles had died rather than Otto, whom I liked so much better?'

I assured her that this latter interpretation was impossible. After some reflection, I was able to give her the interpretation of the dream, which she subsequently confirmed. I was able to do so because the whole previous history of the dreamer was known to me.

Having become an orphan at an early age, the girl had been brought up in the home of a much older sister, and had met, among the friends and visitors who frequented the house, a man who made a lasting impression upon her affections. It looked for a time as though these barely explicit relations would end in marriage, but this happy culmination was frustrated by the sister, whose motives were never completely explained. After the rupture the man whom my patient loved avoided the house; she herself attained her independence some time after the death of little Otto, to whom, meanwhile, her affections had turned. But she did not succeed in freeing herself from the dependence due to her affection for her sister's friend. Her pride bade her avoid him, but she found it impossible to transfer her love to the other suitors who successively presented themselves. Whenever the man she loved, who was a member of the literary profession, announced a lecture anywhere, she was certain to be found among the audience; and she seized every other opportunity of seeing him unobserved. I remembered that on the previous day she had told me that the Professor was going to a certain concert, and that she too was going, in order to enjoy the sight of him. This was on the day before the dream; and the concert was to be given on the day on which she told me the dream. I could now easily see the correct interpretation, and I asked her whether she could think of any particular event which had occurred after Otto's death. She replied immediately: 'Of course; the Professor returned then, after a long absence, and I saw him once more beside little Otto's coffin.' It was just as I had expected. I interpreted the dream as follows: 'If now the other boy were to die, the same thing would happen again. You would spend the day with your sister; the Professor would certainly come to offer his condolences, and you would see him once more under the same circumstances as before. The dream signifies nothing more than this wish of yours to see him again -- a wish against which you are fighting inwardly. I know that you have the ticket for today's concert in your bag. Your dream is a dream of impatience; it has anticipated by several hours the meeting which is to take place today.'

In order to disguise her wish she had obviously selected a situation in which wishes of the sort are commonly suppressed -- a situation so sorrowful that love is not even thought of. And yet it is entirely possible that even in the actual situation beside the coffin of the elder, more dearly loved boy, she had not been able to suppress her tender affection for the visitor whom she had missed for so long.

Freud's INterpretive Method

Pleasure vs Reality

Here's a video by The School of Life that provides a very quick introduction to some of Freud's main ideas.

Criticism of Freud

Freud became a household name in the 20th century. Psychoanalysis would be practiced throughout Europe and North America, and the Freudian or psychoanalytic approach made it into many other fields of endeavour, most notably literary studies, where it was applied as a method for discovering hidden meaning in literature and film.

But in the fields psychology and psychiatry, an approach based more on studies of human physiology and cognitive behaviour now holds sway, and Freud and his theories are usually taught as an historical curiosity, if at all. 

To get an idea of the criticisms that the modern medical and psychological professions level against Freud and his methods, read this essay from Britain's leading medical journal, The Lancet, in which R.C. Tallis review's Richard Webster's book Why Freud Was Wrong.

Freud vs CBT

Cognitive behaviour therapy, or CBT, is now probably the leading form of psychotherapy. It is used by psychologists and therapists to assist their patients in developing strategies for coping with and overcoming various afflictions (e.g. anxiety or depression). 

Final content item

Your final content item could be your analysis and explanation for your project.