Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud (born Sigismund Schlomo Freud on May 6, 1856 in Freiberg in Moravia; died on September 23, 1939 in London) was an Austrian physician, neurophysiologist, depth psychologist, cultural theorist and
critic of religion.
He is the founder of psychoanalysis and is considered one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. His theories and methods are still discussed and applied today, but also criticized. They are partly confirmed by the findings of the still young field of neuropsychoanalysis.

In his self-portrayal in 1925d, Freud reported that he had attended a lecture by Carl Hansen:
“While still a student I had attended a public performance by the “magnetizer Hansen and noticed that one of the subjects turned deathly pale when she fell into cataleptic rigidity and remained so for the entire duration of the state. This firmly established my conviction of the genuineness of the hypnotic phenomena.” (Freud 1925d, 40)

Freud with Charcot
:Freud was a secondary physician at the general hospital in Vienna when he traveled to Paris in 1885 on a scholarship to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere, who hypnotized and studied hysterics. Freud was acquainted with Benedikt and Obersteiner and was already familiar with the literature through them. As a supporter of Charcot and his translator, he returned to Vienna in 1886 and opened his own neurological practice, where he used hypnosis in the treatment of hysteria in addition to the procedures commonly used at the time, such as electrotherapy, fattening cures, massages and others. Here, however, inspired by Breuer’s experiences, he took a different path.
Charcot proved that paralysis resulting from shock after a railroad accident could also be produced with the help of hypnosis. “For Paris, hypnotic suggestion functioned as the experimental means that made it possible to understand the “traumatic neurosis” as a form of hysteria.” (Andreas Mayer, 138) Freud began to take an interest in the difference between psychic and organic paralysis.
Charcot, however, always adhered to degneration as the cause of hysteria and concentrated on researching and classifying different types of hysteria; he was ultimately not interested in curing, let alone understanding the psychological background of the symptoms.
Freud adopted the model of traumatic, i.e. acquired, hysteria and it became the starting point for his research into the genesis of hysteria, which could be influenced by hypnosis, i.e. by psychological means, and was therefore in principle curable for him. He was encouraged in this by Breuer’s experiences.

The reception of his colleagues’ criticism of Freud’s views is divided.
Freud himself reported that he had been ostracized at the time; Jones expressed this view in his Freud biography. (Freud, 1925d, 39; Jones, 1953 229ff).
For Ellenberger ([1970] 1996, 595ff) and Sulloway ( [1979]1992, 35ff) this criticism was justified. Hirschmüller (1991, 211ff) takes a middle position.
With his translations of Charcot’s and Bernheim’s books, Freud certainly gained an important position in the dissemination of the two French schools. He added his own point of view to the translations in prefaces and epilogues, thereby also influencing their reception in Vienna. Freud probably used hypnosis for about 10 years – from 1886-1896 (see Freud 1905a)
Although the Viennese doctors were now predominantly adhering to the Nancy school, the debate in Vienna was more concerned with the question of whether hypnosis should not be fundamentally rejected, so close was it to the show booths in Vienna, and hypnosis was not regarded as an experimental procedure in the Viennese discussion.

Freud in Nancy 1889
Summer 1889: Freud traveled to Nancy for several weeks to visit Bernheim and Liébeault, where he is said to have been introduced by the Swiss (Study edition, Editorial preface to Freud 1990b, p. 15). He has one of his patients (Cäcilie M) follow him and is hypnotized by Bernheim.
“With the intention of perfecting my hypnotic technique, I traveled to Nancy in the summer of 1889, where I spent several weeks. I saw the moving old Liébault at work on the poor women and children of the working-class population, witnessed Bernheim’s most astonishing experiments on his hospital patients and gained the strongest impressions of the possibility of powerful mental processes that remain hidden from human consciousness. I had persuaded one of my patients to come to Nancy for the purpose of instruction. It was a noble, brilliantly gifted hysteric who had been left to me because they knew nothing to do with her. I had given her a more humane existence through hypnotic influence and was able to lift her out of the misery of her condition again and again. In my ignorance at the time, I attributed the fact that each time she relapsed after a while to the fact that her hypnosis had never reached the level of somnambulism with amnesia. Bernheim tried it with her again and again, but got nowhere. He frankly confessed to me that he only achieved great therapeutic successes through suggestion in his hospital practice, not with his private patients. I had many stimulating conversations with him and took it upon myself to translate his two works on suggestion and its healing effects into German.” (Freud 1925d, 41)
It is clear that Freud needed and used hypnosis for therapeutic work, but also to develop his own understanding of the human mind and psychodynamics as well as to research and substantiate his theoretical assumptions. For the development of psychoanalysis, hypnosis was even
“We must remain grateful to the old hypnotic technique for the fact that it presented us with individual psychic processes of analysis in isolation and schematization. Only in this way could we gain the courage to create complicated situations in the analytic cure itself and keep them transparent” (Freud, 1914b, p. 127).
Although, in Freud’s eyes, hypnosis did not fulfill the initial expectations for therapy, it did contribute a great deal to the understanding of theoretical relationships. Psychoanalysts should regard themselves as its “rightful heirs” (Freud, 1917b, p. 482). Hypnosis made it possible to recognize connections between mental processes and the physical phenomena influenced by them; the similarity between hypnotic and neurotic phenomena was of interest and led to research into neuroses (Freud, 1923).
Even though Freud could not fully understand and explain it, he considered hypnosis to be a harmless method (Freud, 1895d). However, it can be assumed that hypnosis was not a suitable method for him (Hole, 2003). He could not explain its mechanisms of action, felt at the mercy of its effects, which could also have an impact on the therapist-patient relationship, for example (Chertok, 2009), and was not always able to comprehend therapeutic success or criticized its fleeting nature.

Freud’s recognition of hypnosis
However, it must also be said that Freud described the use of hypnosis for psychotherapy as pleasant, as it was easier and could be carried out in less time than psychoanalysis (Freud, 1917a, b). His attitude towards hypnosis was therefore not exclusively negative. He paid tribute to hypnotic suggestion throughout his life.
(Schröder, 1991; Kinzel, 1993) and even recommended the combined use of hypnosis and psychoanalysis when it seemed appropriate for the treatment of the patient’s problem. This became particularly clear towards the end of the First World War. Here, psychoanalysis was confronted with the question of an effective
treatment of the psychological consequences of war (war neuroses) in soldiers.
Freud commented on this at the 5th International Psychoanalytic Congress in 1918 and noted that hypnosis and suggestion could and would also be used in combination or within the framework of psychoanalysis (Kinzel, 1993).
At the same time, he pointed out the great need for psychoanalytic treatment in the poor population. Access to psychoanalysis must also be made possible for them. However, psychoanalysis would then have to be adapted to the new conditions: “In the mass application of our therapy, we will very probably be forced to alloy the pure gold of analysis abundantly with the copper of direct suggestion, and hypnotic influence could also find a place there again, as in the treatment of war neurotics”
(Freud, 1919, S. 249).
Freud’s position on the use of hypnosis at the beginning of the 20th century can be clearly emphasized here. It is obvious that he was still aware of the importance and help of hypnotic therapy, even though he had given it up for the reasons given above. Although Freud probably never treated war neurotics himself (Ellenberger, 2005), he was able – under the condition of the primacy of psychoanalysis – to accept the idea of a combination of psychoanalysis and hypnosis. He saw the additional use of hypnosis in the sense of simplification and with the aim of shortening therapy as a practicable possibility. From a psychoanalytic point of view, hypnotic techniques in combination with psychoanalysis could and can also be justified in terms of effectiveness.


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