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In the early 20th century, Sigmund Freud's theories of psychoanalysis, slowly but powerfully, caught on in America (Fancher, 1998). America has always been, historically and philosophically, a land of individualism, personal discovery, and drive toward self-knowledge and self-actualization. Therefore, Freud's theory of psychoanalysis - with its key emphasis on self-discovery through intricate self-analysis, offered Americans ideas much akin to those with which they were already comfortable - self-actualization; self-knowledge; self-understanding.
Some Americans knew already of Freud's preliminary groundbreaking works, The Interpretation of Dreams (1899, 1900) and the bestselling Dora [also known as "Fragmented Analysis of a Case of Hysteria"] (1900). However, what was perhaps most intriguing about Freud's theories, to Americans, was the idea that happiness was within the grasp of the individual.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was the founder of modern-day psychoanalysis, in Vienna, in the early years of the 20th century. Freud developed the theory of the unconscious, including the theory of the id-ego-superego triad that governs, from within, human behavior.
Further, as Freud argued in Civilization and its Discontents (1961), we are inherently driven by our desires (the id), which are unconsciously controlled by the superego (a sort of internalized parent, just as the id is similar to an internalized child). Our ego functions as both a sort of unconscious mediator between the two extremes of the ego and the id, and also reflects the tension and interplay between the id and the superego. The ego, then, tells us who we are, often uneasily. Under that theory, it would follow logically, then, Freud argues, that our behavior is internally rather than externally shaped; our external behavior within society is merely the end result of those purely internal behavior-shaping processes. Freud argued that internal unconscious constraints (e.g., the superego) either permit or limit Freud would argue, internal unconscious constraints) that either permit or limit our behavior within society. our behavior within society. Freud's was, in a nutshell, a theory of the structure and function of the human unconscious.
Freud was a pioneer, a risk-taker, a maverick and an innovator, all qualities prized by Americans. In those respects Americans likely valued the man as well as his work (Fancher; Hale). And, in future decades, though orthodox Freudian psychoanalysis eventually fell out of favor, Freud's groundbreaking ideas continued at the cornerstone of related theories of psychiatry. Even American psychopharmacology, as we know it today, arguably owes something to Sigmund Freud's early published theories on "neuroses" (e.g., The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899, 1900) and "excited states" springing from neuroses (Dora, 1905)
Although Freud's theories did not immediately take off, following the initial set of lectures he delivered on American soil (held at a conference at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, from September 7 through September 11, 1909) (Fancher, 1998), Freud nevertheless received a warm and enthusiastic reception from his university audience, over a five-day period, as the featured speaker of the conference. Freud's lectures, delivered:
. . . in German and following no written text, [and] extemporaneously planned
on a walk with Ferenczi earlier in the day, . . . were a great success. His
audience was more multilingual than would be the case for a comparable
gathering today, and Freud fully revealed his skill as a cogent and captivating
lecturer, sprinkling his talks with small jokes and personal references that
everyone enjoyed. His lectures told the story, in roughly chronological order,
of how he had arrived at the main points of his theory and technique . . .
Although not everyone was convinced by everything Freud had to
say, his goals for the visit were more than realized. He provided a lucid
summary of his complicated theories, in terms easily understood and
remembered by intelligent laypeople. (Fancher)
Names mentioned in this term paper
\"Sigmund Freud, Freudianism, Fancher, Dora, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Eisenstein, Ferenczi, Charles Foster Kane,
Organizations talked about in this essay
Clark University, Wikipedia,
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Locations referenced in this research paper
America, United States, Vienna, Massachusetts, Worcester,
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Keywords talked about in this research material
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