The History of Freud and Psychoanalysis

Essay by kazcozUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 2006

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"Psychoanalysis is (a) the method developed by Sigmund Freud and extended by his followers for treating mental disorders. (b) The theory of personality, which grew out of experiences with the psychoanalytic method of treatment. The theory emphasizes the role of unconscious processes in personality development and in motivation." (Atkinson, 1953). Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Alfred Adler all influenced the school of psychoanalysis; however, before this there were many precursors to psychoanalysis such as Franz Anton Mesmer, Philippe Pinel and Jean-Martin Charcot.

Franz Anton Mesmer was born on May 23, 1734 in Iznang, Germany. Mesmer received an MD from the University of Vienna in 1766. His thesis suggested that the planets influence the health of humans on earth. He proposed that their gravitational forces could alter the dispersal of our animal spirits. He later changed his idea to highlight magnetism rather than gravity. This was termed "animal magnetism".

It was later changed to mesmerism.

Mesmer had the ability to place people into trance states, even seizures, by waving magnetic bars over them. He was accused of fraud by other physicians in Vienna and he fled to Paris. Despite disapproval from other physicians, mesmerism became popular in Europe. Many poor people asked for the help of Mesmer. Responding to these people Mesmer built a tub somewhat like a bathtub in which one could sit and hold the magnetic rods themselves. Franz Anton Mesmer died on March 5, 1815 in Meersburg, Germany. In England a physician named James Braid (1795- 1860) gave Mesmer's phenomenon a new name and greater credibility. Due to Braid, mesmerism is now known as hypnotism. This discovery was very important for psychoanalysis as it is one of the methods used by psychoanalysts when treating patients.

Philippe Pinel is also an extremely important precursor in the history...