Sigmund Freud

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Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.
Psychoanalysis ... should find a place among the methods whose aim is to bring about the highest ethical and intellectual development of the individual.

Sigmund Freud ([ˈziːgmʊnt ˈfrɔʏ̯t]; 6 May 185623 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. He was the father of Anna Freud, the grandfather of Sir Clement Freud and Lucian Freud, and the uncle of Edward Bernays.


No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human beast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.
The act of birth is the first experience of anxiety, and thus the source and prototype of the affect of anxiety.
What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.
What does a woman want?
  • (Speech of Freud before the B'nai B'rith) I soon convinced myself that I owed to my nature as a Jew alone the two qualities that had become indispensable to me in the course of my difficult life. As a Jew, I found myself free of many of those prejudices that limit other men in the use of their intellect and, as a Jew, I found myself ready to go over to the opposition and to renounce agreement with the 'silent majority'. So I became one of yours; I took part in your humanitarian and national interests, made friends among you and later convinced the few friends I had left (Dr Hitschmarm and Dr Rie) to join you. It is not that I wanted to win you over to my teachings, but at a time when no one in Europe listened to you accorded me benevolent attention. You were my first audience.
    • Mi convinsi ben presto che dovevo solo alla mia natura di ebreo le due qualità che mi erano diventate indispensabili nel corso della mia vita difficile. Essendo ebreo mi trovavo libero da molti di quel pregiudizi che limitano gli altri uomini nell'uso del proprio intelletto e, in quanto ebreo, mi trovavo pronto a passare all'opposizione e a rinunciare a un accordo con la "maggioranza silenziosa". Così divenni uno dei vostri; partecipai ai vostri interessi umanitari e nazionali, mi feci degli amici tra di voi e in seguito convinsi i pochi amici che mi restavano (il Dr. Hitschmarm e il Dr. Rie) ad associarsi a voi. Non è che volessi conquistarvi ai miei insegnamenti, in un'epoca in cui in Europa nessuno mi ascoltava, voi mi accordaste una benevola attenzione. Voi foste il mio primo uditorio.


  • How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.
    • Letter to his fiancée Martha Bernays (27 June 1882); published in Letters of Sigmund Freud 1873-1939 (1961), 10-12
  • Woe to you, my Princess, when I come... you shall see who is the stronger, a gentle girl who doesn't eat enough or a big wild man who has cocaine in his body.
    • Letter to his fiancée, Martha Bernays (2 June 1884)
  • Princess, my little Princess,
    Oh, how wonderful it will be! I am coming with money and staying a long time and bringing something beautiful for you and then go on to Paris and become a great scholar and then come back to Vienna with a huge, enormous halo, and then we will soon get married, and I will cure all the incurable nervous cases and through you I shall be healthy and I will go on kissing you till you are strong and gay and happy — and "if they haven't died, they are still alive today."
    • Letter to Martha Bernays, after receiving a travel grant he had been having dreams of receiving (20 June 1885). The final line is the German equivalent of "and they lived happily ever after," as a conventional ending for fairy tales.


  • A man like me cannot live without a hobby-horse, a consuming passion — in Schiller's words a tyrant. I have found my tyrant, and in his service I know no limits. My tyrant is psychology. it has always been my distant, beckoning goal and now since I have hit upon the neuroses, it has come so much the nearer.
    • Ein Mensch wie ich kann ohne Steckenpferd, ohne herrschende Leidenschaften, ohne einen Tyrannen in Schillers Worten, nicht leben. Ich habe meinen Tyrannen gefunden und in seinem Dienst kenne ich kein Maß.
    • Letter to Wilhelm Fliess (1895), as quoted in Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences Vol 3-4 (1967) p. 159
  • I do not doubt that it would be easier for fate to take away your suffering than it would for me. But you will see for yourself that much has been gained if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into common unhappiness.
  • I do not in the least underestimate bisexuality. . . I expect it to provide all further enlightenment.
  • In the following pages, I shall demonstrate that there exists a psychological technique by which dreams may be interpreted and that upon the application of this method every dream will show itself to be a senseful psychological structure which may be introduced into an assignable place in the psychic activity of the waking state. I shall furthermore endeavor to explain the processes which give rise to the strangeness and obscurity of the dream, and to discover through them the psychic forces, which operate whether in combination or opposition, to produce the dream. This accomplished by investigation will terminate as it will reach the point where the problem of the dream meets broader problems, the solution of which must be attempted through other material.
    • "The Interpretation of Dreams" introduction, 1899; reprinted in "The Interpretation of Dreams the Illustrated Edition", Sterling Press, 2010, page 9
  • A woman is to soften but not weaken a man.


  • I am actually not at all a man of science, not an observer, not an experimenter, not a thinker. I am by temperament nothing but a conquistador — an adventurer, if you want it translated — with all the curiosity, daring, and tenacity characteristic of a man of this sort.
    • Letter to Wilhelm Fliess, Feb. 1, 1900. The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess 1887-1904 (1985).
    • Ich bin nämlich gar kein Mann der Wissenschaft, kein Beobachter, kein Experimentator, kein Denker. Ich bin nichts als ein Conquistadorentemperament, ein Abenteurer, wenn Du es übersetzt willst, mit der Neugierde, der Kühnheit und der Zähigkeit eines solchen.
  • The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.
    • The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), from The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, translated by James Strachey.
    • At any rate the interpretation of dreams is the via regia to a knowledge of the unconscious in the psychic life.
      • Alternate translation by Abraham Arden Brill, p. 483. Freud did use the Latin phrase via regia in the original as opposed to translating it into the German of the surrounding text.
    • "Royal road" or via regia is an allusion to a statement attributed to Euclid.
  • And now, the main thing! As far as I can see, my next work will be called "Human Bisexuality." It will go to the root of the problem and say the last word it may be granted to say — the last and the most profound.
  • No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human beast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.
    • Dora : An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905), his analysis of the case of Ida Bauer (also translated as Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria)
  • He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.
    • Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905) Ch. 2 : The First Dream
  • Moreover, the act of birth is the first experience of anxiety, and thus the source and prototype of the affect of anxiety.
    • The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), in a footnote Freud added to the Second Edition in 1909 (see Psychoanalytic Pioneers, p. 46.)


  • We have long observed that every neurosis has the result, and therefore probably the purpose, of forcing the patient out of real life, of alienating him from actuality.
  • The virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man does in actual life.
  • At bottom God is nothing more than an exalted father.
    • Totem and Taboo : Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics (1913)

"...we must begin to love in order not to fall ill."

    • On Narcissism: An Introduction (1914)
  • Psychoanalysis ... should find a place among the methods whose aim is to bring about the highest ethical and intellectual development of the individual.
    • Letter number 80 to James Jackson Putnam, March 30, 1914, in James Jackson Putnam and Psychoanalysis: Letters between Putnam and Sigmund Freud, Ernest Jones, William James, Sandor Ferenczi, and Morton Prince, 1877-1917 (Harvard University Press: 1971), p. 170
  • The psychic development of the individual is a short repetition of the course of development of the race.
    • Leonardo da Vinci (1916)
  • The ego is not master in its own house.
    • A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis (1917)
  • Wenn man der unbestrittene Liebling der Mutter gewesen ist, so behält man fürs Leben jenes Eroberergefühl, jene Zuversicht des Erfolges, welche nicht selten wirklich den Erfolg nach sich zieht.
    • Eine Kindheitserinnerung aus »Dichtung und Wahrheit«, first published in the journal Imago, vol. 5 issue 2 (1917), p. 57 =
    • Translation: A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success.
      • From The Life and Works of Sigmund Freud by Ernest Jones, Vol. I, ch. 1 (1953) p. 5
  • Cruel though it may sound, we must see to it that the patient's suffering, to a degree that is in some way or other effective, does not come to an end prematurely. If, owing to the symptoms having been taken apart and having lost their value, his suffering becomes mitigated, we must re-instate it elsewhere in the form of some appreciable privation; otherwise we run the danger of never achieving any improvements except quite insignificant and transitory ones
    • Freud (1919) Lines of Advance in Psycho-Analytic Therapy. cited in: Jürgen Habermas (1972) Knowledge and Human Interests. p. 234
  • We are and remain Jews. The others will only exploit us and will never understand and appreciate us.
Letter to Sabina Spielrein, 29 September 1913. Aldo Carotenuto, A Secret Symmetry: Sabina Spielrein between Jung and Freud (1982), p. 121.


  • Biology is truly a land of unlimited possibilities. We may expect it to give us the most surprising information, and we cannot guess what answers it will return in a few dozen years. ...They may be of a kind which will blow away the whole of our artificial structure of hypothesis.
    • Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920)
  • The unconscious is the larger circle which includes within itself the smaller circle of the conscious; everything conscious has its preliminary step in the unconscious, whereas the unconscious may stop with this step and still claim full value as a psychic activity. Properly speaking, the unconscious is the real psychic; its inner nature is just as unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is just as imperfectly reported to us through the data of consciousness as is the external world through the indications of our sensory organs.
    • Dream Psychology: Psychoanalysis For Beginners (1920) as translated by M. D. Eder
  • The common characteristic of all perversions, on the other hand, is that they have abandoned reproduction as their aim. We term sexual activity perverse when it has renounced the aim of reproduction and follows the pursuit of pleasure as an independent goal. And so you realize that the turning point in the development of sexual life lies in its subjugation to the purpose of reproduction. Everything this side of the turning point, everything that has given up this purpose and serves the pursuit of pleasure alone, must carry the term "perverse" and as such be regarded with contempt.
    • A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, 1920, preface by G. Stanley Hall, Twentieth Lecture: General Theory of the Neuroses, The Sexual Life of Man, New York, Boni and Liveright, p. 273. (reprinted 1975 by Pocket pub. ISBN 0671800329 ISBN 978-0671800321 and 2012 by Emereo Publishing, ISBN 9781486414147 [1] (Harvard sociologist and a founder of the Rural Sociological Society Carle C. Zimmerman (1897-1983) notes the following in regard to Freud's early thinking on human sexuality: "Nor did the atheist Sigmund Freud perceive any difficulty in detecting the intrinsic perversity of contraception and allied deviations." see, Marriage and the Family, A Text for Moderns, (1956), Carl C. Zimmerman, Ph.D., Lucius F. Cervantes, S.J., PhD. (Harvard, Regis), Regnery, Chicago, Ill., p. 329. [2] [3]
  • Cruelty and intolerance to those who do not belong to it are natural to every religion.
    • Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921)
  • We read in Rabelais of how the Devil took flight when the woman showed him her vulva.
    • The Medusa’s Head (1922, p. 274).
  • Wer verliebt ist, ist demütig. Wer liebt, hat sozusagen ein Stück seines Narzißmus eingebüßt.
    • Whoever loves become humble. Those who love have, so to speak, pawned a part of their narcissism.
    • "Gesammelte Schriften, Volume 6" (1924), p. 183
  • Die Anatomie ist das Schicksal
  • When the wayfarer whistles in the dark, he may be disavowing his timidity, but he does not see any more clearly for doing so.
    • The Problem of Anxiety (1925)
  • The poets and philosophers before me discovered the unconscious; what I discovered was the scientific method by which the unconscious can be studied.
    • On his seventieth birthday (1926); as quoted in The Liberal Imagination (1950) by Lionel Trilling
The ego represents what we call reason and sanity, in contrast to the id which contains the passions.
  • It is easy to see that the ego is that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.
  • The ego represents what we call reason and sanity, in contrast to the id which contains the passions.
  • The functional importance of the ego is manifested in the fact that normally control over the approaches to motility devolves upon it. Thus in its relation to the id it is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse; with this difference, that the rider tries to do so with his own strength while the ego uses borrowed forces. The analogy may be carried a little further. Often a rider, if he is not to be parted from his horse, is obliged to guide it where it wants to go; so in the same way the ego is in the habit of transforming the id's will into action as if it were its own.
    • (p.25 in The Standard Edition, Ed. James Strachey)
  • The sexual wishes in regard to the mother become more intense and the father is perceived as an obstacle to the mother; this gives rise to the Oedipus complex.
  • We obtain our concept of the unconscious, therefore, from the theory of repression … We see, however that we have two kinds of unconscious — that which is latent but capable of becoming conscious, and that which is repressed and not capable of becoming conscious in the ordinary way.
Die Zukunft einer Illusion
Religious doctrines … are all illusions, they do not admit of proof, and no one can be compelled to consider them as true or to believe in them.
  • If the truth of religious doctrines is dependent on an inner experience that bears witness to the truth, what is one to make of the many people who do not have that experience?
  • The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing. Ultimately, after endlessly repeated rebuffs, it succeeds. This is one of the few points in which it may be optimistic about the future of mankind, but in itself it signifies not a little.
  • Es braucht nicht gesagt zu werden, daß eine Kultur, welche eine so große Zahl von Teilnehmern unbefriedigt läßt und zur Auflehnung treibt, weder Aussicht hat, sich dauernd zu erhalten, noch es verdient.
    • It goes without saying that a civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence.
  • Religious ideas have sprung from the same need as all the other achievements of culture: from the necessity for defending itself against the crushing supremacy of nature.
    • Ch. 3
  • A poor girl may have an illusion that a prince will come and fetch her home. It is possible, some such cases have occurred. That the Messiah will come and found a golden age is much less probable.
    • Ch. 6
  • Religious doctrines … are all illusions, they do not admit of proof, and no one can be compelled to consider them as true or to believe in them.
    • Ch. 6
  • Where the questions of religion are concerned people are guilty of every possible kind of insincerity and intellectual misdemeanor.
    • Ch. 6
  • Immorality, no less than morality, has at all times found support in religion.
    • Ch. 7
  • Our knowledge of the historical worth of certain religious doctrines increases our respect for them, but does not invalidate our proposal that they should cease to be put forward as the reasons for the precepts of civilization. On the contrary! Those historical residues have helped us to view religious teachings, as it were, as neurotic relics, and we may now argue that the time has probably come, as it does in an analytic treatment, for replacing the effects of repression by the results of the rational operation of the intellect.
    • Ch. 8
  • The true believer is in a high degree protected against the danger of certain neurotic afflictions, by accepting the universal neurosis he is spared the task of forming a personal neurosis.
    • Ch. 8
  • "In so doing, the idea forces itself upon him that religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis, and he is optimistic enough to suppose that mankind will surmount this neurotic phase, just as so many children grow out of their similar neurosis."
    • Ch. 10
  • Religion is a system of wishful illusions together with a disavowal of reality, such as we find nowhere else but in a state of blissful hallucinatory confusion. Religion's eleventh commandment is "Thou shalt not question."
  • But man's helplessness remains and along with it his longing for his father, and the gods. The gods retain their threefold task: they must exorcise the terrors of nature, they must reconcile men to the cruelty of Fate, particularly as it is shown in death, and they must compensate them for the sufferings and privations which a civilized life in common has imposed on them.
Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (literally, "The Uneasiness in Culture") - Full PDF online
  • Man kann sich des Eindrucks nicht erwehren, daß die Menschen gemeinhin mit falschen Maßstäben messen, Macht, Erfolg und Reichtum für sich anstreben und bei anderen bewundern, die wahren Werte des Lebens aber unterschätzen.
  • Towards the outside, at any rate, the ego seems to maintain clear and sharp lines of demarcation. There is only one state — admittedly an unusual state, but not one that can be stigmatized as pathological — in which it does not do this. At the height of being in love the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away. Against all the evidence of his senses, a man who is in love declares that "I" and "you" are one, and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact.
  • One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be "happy" is not included in the plan of "Creation."
  • Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.
  • We are never so defenceless against suffering as when we love.
  • The first requisite of civilization, therefore, is that of justice—that is, the assurance that a law once made will not be broken in favour of an individual.
  • I cannot inquire into whether the abolition of private property is expedient or advantageous. But I am able to recognize that the psychological premisses on which the [system]] is based are an untenable illusion. In abolishing private property we deprive the human love of aggression of one of its instruments, certainly a strong one, though certainly not the strongest, but we have not altered the differences in power and influence which are misused by aggressiveness, nor have we altered anything in its nature. Aggressiveness was not created by property. It reigned almost without limit in primitive times, when property was still very scanty, and it already shows itself in the nursery almost before property has given up its primal, anal form; it forms the basis of every relation of affection and love among people (with the single exception, perhaps, of the mother's relations to her male child).
  • It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive manifestations of their aggressiveness.


  • In some place in my soul, in a very hidden corner, I am a fanatical Jew. I am very much astonished to discover myself as such in spite of all efforts to be unprejudiced and impartial. What can I do against it at my age?
    • Letter to Dr. David Feuchtwang (1931), as quoted in Freud and Moses: The Long Journey Home (1990) by Emanuel Rice, p. 25
  • What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.
    • Letter to Ernest Jones (1933), as quoted in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993) by Robert Andrews, p. 779
  • Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness.
    • Letter to an American mother's plea to cure her son's homosexuality (1935)
  • A man's heterosexuality will not put up with any homosexuality, and vice versa.
    • "Analysis Terminable and Interminable" (1937)
  • Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent.
    • Analysis Terminable and Interminable, sect. 5 (1937); reprinted in Complete Works, Standard Edition, vol. 23 (ed. James Strachey and Anna Freud. 1964); as quoted in The New Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations by Robert Andrews, Penguin Books, 2001.
  • Man found that he was faced with the acceptance of "spiritual" forces, that is to say such forces as cannot be comprehended by the senses, particularly not by sight, and yet having undoubted, even extremely strong, effects. If we may trust to language, it was the movement of the air that provided the image of spirituality, since the spirit borrows its name from the breath of wind (animus, spiritus, Hebrew: ruach = smoke). The idea of the soul was thus born as the spiritual principle in the individual. Observation found the breath of air again in the human breath, which ceases with death; even today we talk of a dying man breathing his last. Now the realm of spirits had opened for man, and he was ready to endow everything in nature with the soul he had discovered in himself.
    • Moses and Monotheism (1938)
translated by James Strachey
  • It often seems that the poet's derisive comment is not unjustified when he says of the philosopher: "With his nightcaps and the tatters of his dressing-gown he patches the gaps in the structure of the universe."
  • Analogies prove nothing, that is quite true, but they can make one feel more at home.
  • The only bodily organ which is really regarded as inferior is the atrophied penis, a girls clitoris.
    • Lecture 31, "The Dissection of the Psychical Personality' (1933).
  • One might compare the relation of the ego to the id with that between a rider and his horse. The horse provides the locomotor energy, and the rider has the prerogative of determining the goal and of guiding the movements of his powerful mount towards it. But all too often in the relations between the ego and the id we find a picture of the less ideal situation in which the rider is obliged to guide his horse in the direction in which it itself wants to go.
    • The Anatomy of the Mental Personality (Lecture 31)
  • The poor ego has a still harder time of it; it has to serve three harsh masters, and it has to do its best to reconcile the claims and demands of all three... The three tyrants are the external world, the superego, and the id.
    • The Anatomy of the Mental Personality (Lecture 31)
  • Where id is, there shall ego be.
    • The Anatomy of the Mental Personality (Lecture 31)
  • Thinking is an experimental dealing with small quantities of energy, just as a general moves miniature figures over a map before setting his troops in action.
    • Anxiety and Instinctual Life (Lecture 32)
  • If one wishes to form a true estimate of the full grandeur of religion, one must keep in mind what it undertakes to do for men. It gives them information about the source and origin of the universe, it assures them of protection and final happiness amid the changing vicissitudes of life, and it guides their thoughts and motions by means of precepts which are backed by the whole force of its authority.
    • A Philosophy of Life (Lecture 35)
  • Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities.
    • A Philosophy of Life (Lecture 35)
  • Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.
    • A Philosophy of Life (Lecture 35)
  • The expectation that every neurotic phenomenon can be cured may, I suspect, be derived from the layman's belief that the neuroses are something quite unnecessary which have no right whatever to exist. Whereas in fact they are severe, constitutionally fixed illnesses, which rarely restrict themselves to only a few attacks but persist as a rule over long periods throughout life.

Attributed from posthumous publications

  • The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of subconscious from which it rises.
    • As quoted in his obituary, in the New York Times, 24 September, 1939
  • ...three of life's most important areas: work, love, and taking responsibility.
    • From The Wolf-man and Sigmund Freud Muriel Gardiner, p. 365 (cf.
  • Was will das Weib?
    • What does a woman want?
    • [Freud] said once to Marie Bonaparte: 'The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is "What does a woman want?" - Sigmund Freud: Life and Work (Hogarth Press, 1953) by Ernest Jones, Vol. 2, Pt. 3, Ch. 16, p. 421. In a footnote Jones gives the original German, "Was will das Weib?" (cf. Marie Bonaparte's diary confirms the attribution to Freud and dates it to their psychoanalytic session on December 8, 1925.
    • Translated by Gertrud Meili-Dworetzki with the cooperation of Katherine Jones in the German version of Jones book: Das Leben und Werk von Sigmund Freud, Vol. 2, Bern and Stuttgart 1962, p. 493, into: Die große Frage, die nie beantwortet worden ist und die ich trotz dreißig Jahre langem Forschen in der weiblichen Seele nicht habe beantworten können, ist die: 'Was will das Weib?'
  • America is a mistake, admittedly a gigantic mistake, but a mistake nevertheless.
    • Remark to Ernest Jones as quoted in The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud: Years of maturity, 1901-1919‎ (1957) by Ernest Jones, p. 60
    • Also quoted as, "Yes, America is gigantic, but a gigantic mistake." in Memories of a Psycho-analyst, ch.9 (1959) by Ernest Jones; and as, "America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but I am afraid it is not going to be a success." in Freud: the Man and his Cause, pt. 3, ch. 12, (1980), by Ronald W. Clark; as quoted in Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations by Robert Andrews, Penguin Books, 2001.
  • A certain degree of neurosis is of inestimable value as a drive, especially to a psychologist.
    • Fragments of an Analysis with Freud, ch.3 '22 January 1935' (1954) by Joseph Wortis; as quoted in Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations by Robert Andrews, Penguin Books, 2001.
  • I have found little that is "good" about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud or perhaps even think.
    • Psycho-analysis and faith: the letters of Sigmund Freud & Oskar Pfister (1963 edition)
  • Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me.
    • As quoted in In factor of the sensitive man, and other essays (1976 edition) by Anais Nin, p.14
  • Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate in their object-relations.
  • I don't rack my brains much over the subject of good and evil, but, on average, I haven't discovered much 'good' in men. Based on what I know of them, they are for the most part nothing but scoundrels.
    • Correspondance avec le pasteur Pfister, 1909-1939, Gallimard, 1991, p.103; as quoted in Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World by Matthieu Ricard


  • A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.
    • This is not a statement that has been found in any translation of any of Freud's known works. It is a paraphrase of a statement from the essay "Guns, Murders, and the Constitution" (February 1990) by Don B. Kates, Jr. where Kates summarizes his views of passages in Dreams in Folklore (1958) by Freud and David E. Oppenheim, while disputing statements by Emmanuel Tanay in "Neurotic Attachment to Guns" in a 1976 edition of The Fifty Minute Hour: A Collection of True Psychoanalytic Tales (1955) by Robert Mitchell Lindner:
Dr. Tanay is perhaps unaware of — in any event, he does not cite — other passages more relevant to his argument. In these other passages Freud associates retarded sexual and emotional development not with gun ownership, but with fear and loathing of weapons. The probative importance that ought to be attached to the views of Freud is, of course, a matter of opinion. The point here is only that those views provide no support for the penis theory of gun ownership.
After reading of this essay and its citations, this paraphrase of an opinion about Freud's ideas has been attributed to Freud himself, and specifically to his 10th Lecture "Symbolism in Dreams" in General Introduction to Psychoanalysis on some internet forum pages: alt.quotations, uk.politics.guns, talk.politics.guns, , etc.
One of the statements by Freud which Kates summarized from in Dreams in Folklore (1958), p. 33, reads: "The representation of the penis as a weapon, cutting knife, dagger etc., is familiar to us from the anxiety dreams of abstinent women in particular and also lies at the root of numerous phobias in neurotic people."
  • Sometimes a Cigar Is Just a Cigar.
    • Psychology professor Alan C. Elms stated in the article “Apocryphal Freud: Sigmund Freud’s Most Famous ‘Quotations’ and Their Actual Sources.” (2001): "In this case, however, not only do we lack any written record of Freud as the direct source, but also there are many reasons to conclude that Freud never said it or anything like it." Quote tracking done by the Quote Investigator
  • The idea of a God was not a lie but a device of the unconscious which needed to be decoded by psychology. A personal god was nothing more than an exalted father-figure: desire for such a deity sprang from infantile yearnings for a powerful, protective father, for justice and fairness and for life to go on forever. God is simply a projection of these desires, feared and worshiped by human beings out of an abiding sense of helplessness. Religion belonged to the infancy of the human race; it had been a necessary stage in the transition from childhood to maturity. It had promoted ethical values which were essential to society. Now that humanity had come of age, however, it should be left behind.
    • Summary of Freud's view found in Karen Armstrong's 'A History of God' (1993), p. 409
  • The mind is like an iceberg.
  • Women oppose change, receive passively, and add nothing of their own
    • Alledgedly written in 'The Psychical Consequences of the Anatomic Distinction Between the Sexes', but Freud neither says this nor argues this exact sentiment. Possible originates from Donna Stewart

Quotes about Freud

Sorted by author surname
Freud … agreed in principle to the importance of sexual health. But he did not want what sexual health entailed, the attack on certain institutions which opposed it. ~ Wilhelm Reich
  • The formation of a lesbian (and gay) identity, divested of Freudian origin, is in process. (p 119)
    • Bettina Aptheker Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness, and the Meaning of Daily Experience (1989)
  • In thinking through her body, as Adrienne Rich put it, she challenged Freud's certainty of inner and outer spaces as polar opposites. This concept informs many of Freud's theoretical constructs and especially those about the ego. (Likewise, in popular culture at the time of Freud's work, women were assigned an inner space corresponding to the home-and-hearth, cult-of-true-womanhood ideology of the nineteenth century.) Rich wrote: "As the inhabitant of a female body... in pregnancy I [did not] experience the embryo as decisively internal in Freud's terms, but rather as something inside of me, yet becoming separate from me and of-itself. ... The child I carry for nine months can be defined neither as me or as not-me. Far from existing in the mode of 'inner' space women are powerfully attuned both to 'inner' and 'outer' because for us the two are continuous, not polar."
    • Bettina Aptheker Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness, and the Meaning of Daily Experience (1989)
  • If often he was wrong and at times absurd
    To us he is no more a person
    Now but a climate of opinion.
  • When Freud turned his searing eye to socialism he saw a delusional philosophy […] To Freud, the communists of the twentieth century were engaged in a perfectionist political project […] The central flaw Freud identified in socialist doctrine was the idea that private property is the primary, if not the sole, source of man’s depravity. With this foundational idea, socialists were able to say that man could be redeemed if, and only if, the institution of private property were abolished and replaced by a kinder, more humane system. [To Freud,] Man’s “depravity” is rooted much deeper in his nature and the abolition of private property would do little or nothing to change his basic constitution. [Freud argued that] socialism has its roots not in love and fraternity, as the socialists themselves would have us believe, but rather in revenge and aggression. According to Freud, “It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness” (Freud 1961, 72). Freud pointed to nascent Soviet Russia as evidence of this phenomenon: “it is intelligible that the attempt to establish a new, communist civilization in Russia should find its psychological support in the persecution of the bourgeois. One only wonders, with concern, what the Soviets will do after they have wiped out their bourgeois.”
    • Nicholas Buccola, in "'The Tyranny of the Least and the Dumbest': Nietzsche’s Critique of Socialism” in Quarterly Journal of Ideology Vol 31, no. 3 & 4 (2004), quoting and summarizing Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents
  • At the core of Freud’s initial theory of psychoanalysis was his proposal of the instinctual system, which included two fundamental classes of instincts. The first were the life-preservative instincts. These included the needs for air, food, water, and shelter and the fears of snakes, heights, and dangerous humans. These instincts served the function of survival. Freud’s second major class of motivators consisted of the sexual instincts. “Mature sexuality” for Freud culminated in the final stage of adult development—the genital stage, which led directly to reproduction, the essential feature of Freud’s mature sexuality. Astute readers might sense an eerie familiarity. Freud’s two major classes of instincts correspond almost precisely to Darwin’s two major theories of evolution. Freud’s life-preservative instincts correspond to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which many refer to as “survival selection.” And his theory of the sexual instincts corresponds closely to Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. Freud eventually changed his theory by combining the life and sexual instincts into one group called the “life instincts” and adding a second instinct known as the “death instinct.” He sought to establish psychology as an autonomous discipline, and his thinking moved away from its initial Darwinian anchoring.
    • David Buss, Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind (6th ed., 2019), Chap. 1: The Scientific Movements Leading to Evolutionary Psychology
  • I have become increasingly convinced that some of the popular methods presumed to discover what is in the unconscious cannot be counted upon as reliable methods of obtaining evidence. They often involve the use of symbolism and analogy in such a way that the interpreter can find virtually anything that he is looking for. Freud, for instance, from a simple dream reported by a man in his middle twenties [i.e., Sergei Pankejeff ] as having occurred at 4 years of age drew remarkable conclusions. The 4-year-old boy dreamed of seeing six or seven white wolves sitting in a tree. Freud interpreted the dream in such a way as to convince himself that the patient at 18 months of age had been shocked by seeing his parents have intercourse three times in succession and that this played a major part in the extreme fear of being castrated by his father which Freud ascribed to him at 4 years of age. No objective evidence was ever offered to support this conclusion. Nor was actual fear of castration ever made to emerge into the light of consciousness despite years of analysis.
  • In the early twentieth century the concepts of the preconscious and unconscious were made widely popular, especially in literary circles, by Freud, Jung, and their associates, mainly because of the sexual flavor they gave to them. By modern standards, Freud can hardly be regarded as a scientist but rather as a physician who had many novel ideas and who wrote persuasively and unusually well. He became the main founder of the new cult of psychoanalysis.
    • Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (1994)
  • A few professional alienists understood his importance, but to most of the public he appeared as some kind of German sexologist, an exponent of free love who used big words to talk about dirty things. At least a decade would have to pass before Freud would have his revenge and see his ideas begin to destroy sex in America forever.
  • A special reserve of my anger was directed at Freud (formerly one of my heroes) for having labeled women "neurotic" when they resisted their "natural" roles.
  • He had a sharp vision; no illusions lulled him to sleep except for an often exaggerated faith in his own ideas.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in Sigmund Freud (2006) by Kathleen Krull and Boris Kulikov, p. 132
  • The pathologizing of variation in women's bodies is a deep bias endorsed by many psychological theorists, most certainly by Freud.
  • The seventeenth-century Iroquois, as described by the Jesuit missionaries, practiced a dream psychotherapy that was remarkably similar to Freud's discoveries two hundred years later. The Iroquois recognized the existence of an unconscious, the force of unconscious desires, the way in which the conscious mind attempts to repress unpleasant thoughts, the emergence of unpleasant thoughts in dreams, and the mental and physical (psychosomatic) illnesses that may be caused by the frustration of unconscious desires. The Iroquois knew that their dreams did not deal in facts but rather in symbols. ...And one of the techniques employed by the Iroquois seers to uncover the latent meanings behind a dream was free association... The Iroquois faith in dreams... is only somewhat diminished after more than three hundred years. ...The conclusions are inevitable: Had Freud not discovered psychotherapy, then someone else would have.
  • (Q: In "When Women Love Men" every woman who is sexually repressed would like to break those taboos and simply be sexually free.) If you read Freud or a little psychoanalysis, you know that society has to control that or there would be total anarchy. But everybody has the same desires.
    • Rosario Ferré interview in Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out by Donna Marie Perry (1993)
  • Freudianism has become, with its confessionals and penance, its proselytes and converts, with the millions spent on its upkeep, our modern Church. We attack only uneasily, for you never know, on the day of final judgement, whether might be right. Who can be sure that he is as healthy as he can get? Who is functioning at his highest capacity? And who not scared out of his wis? Who doesn't hate his mother and father? Who doesn't compete with his brother? What girl at some time did not wish she were a boy? And for those hardy souls who persist in their skepticism, there is always that dreadful persist in their skepticism, there is always that dreadful word resistance. They are the one who are sickest: it's obvious, they fight it so much.
  • Freud captured the imagination of a whole continent and civilization for a good reason. Though on the surface inconsistent, illogical or "way out," his followers, with their cautious logic, their experiments and revisions have nothing comparable to say. Freudianism is so charted so impossible to repudiate because freud grasped the cruecail problem of moddern life: Sexuality.
  • Freudianism and Feminism grew from the same soil. It is no accident that Freud began his work at the height of the early feminist movement. We underestimate today how important feminist ideas were at the time. [...] At the turn of the century, then, in social and political thinking, in literary and artistic culture, there was a tremendous ferment of ideas regarding sexuality, marriage and family, and women’s role. Freudianism was only one of the cultural products of this ferment. Both Freudianism and feminism came as reactions to one of the smuggest periods in Western civilization, the Victorian Era, characterized by its family-centredness, and thus its exaggerated sexual oppression and repression. Both movements signified awakening: but Freud was merely a diagnostician for what feminism purports to cure.
  • Whether or not we can blame Freud personally, his failure to question society itself was responsible for massive confusion in the disciplines that grew up around this theory. Beset with the insurmountable problems that resulted from trying to put into practice a basic contradiction – the resolution of a problem within the environment that created it – his followers began to attack one component after another of his theory, until they had thrown the baby out with the bath.
  • I believe Freud was talking about something real, though perhaps his ideas, taken literally, lead to absurdity – for his genius was poetic rather than scientific; his ideas are more valuable as metaphors than as literal truths.
  • That human nature and society can have conflicting demands, and hence that a whole society can be sick, is an assumption which was made very explicitly by Freud, most extensively in his Civilization and Its Discontent. ...he arrives at the concept of "social neurosis." "If the evolution of civilization," he writes, "has such a far-reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization — or epics of it — possibly even the whole of humanity — have become 'neurotic' under the pressure of the civilizing trends?
  • Freud was one of the last representatives of Enlightenment philosophy. He genuinely believed in reason as the one strength man has and which alone could save him from confusion and decay.
    • Erich Fromm, in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1977)
  • While the implications of Darwin’s views were threatening and unsettling, they were not quite so directly abrasive, not quite so unrespectable, as Freud’s views on infantile sexuality, the ubiquity of perversions, and the dynamic power of unconscious urges.
    • Peter Gay (1987). A Godless Jew: Freud, Atheism, and the Making of Psychoanalysis. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p. 144
  • While Darwin was satisfied with revising his work after further reflection and absorbing palpable hits by rational critics, while he trusted the passage of time and the weight of his argumentation, Freud orchestrated his wooing of the public mind through a loyal cadre of adherents, founded periodicals and wrote popularizations that would spread the authorized word, dominated international congresses of analysis until he felt too frail to attend them and after that through surrogates like his daughter Anna.
    • Peter Gay (1987). A Godless Jew: Freud, Atheism, and the Making of Psychoanalysis. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p. 145
  • Professor Bruhl was an old man with a feeble voice. The subjects he treated were mystifying to me. He talked of "Urnings," "Lesbians," and other strange topics. His hearers, too, were strange: feminine-looking men with coquettish manners and women distinctly masculine, with deep voices. They were certainly a peculiar assembly. Greater clarity in these matters came to me later on when I heard Sigmund Freud. His simplicity and earnestness and the brilliance of his mind combined to give one the feeling of being led out of a dark cellar into broad daylight. For the first time I grasped the full significance of sex repression and its effect on human thought and action. He helped me to understand myself, my own needs; and I also realized that only people of depraved minds could impugn the motives or find "impure" so great and fine a personality as Freud.
  • "But [William] Glen [a distinguished geologist and historian of science at the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA...] reminded me of the famous statement by Freud that I have often quoted in these essays: The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos."
    • As mentioned by Stephen Jay Gould, in the essay collection book: "Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History, Part Three: 'Origin, Stability, And Extinction', Chapter 13: 'Jove's Thunderbolts', p. 164-165 - Three Rivers Press. New York. 1996 -- ISBN-10: 0517888246 ISBN-13: 978-0517888247 (original edition) -- Available: Belknap Press; Reprint edition (2011) -- ISBN-10: 0674061608 ISBN-13: 978-0674061606 (reprint)
  • According to Freud, our best and highest aspirations are merely symptoms of neurosis. He defines genius as nothing more than sublimated sexual drives, and our subconscious as a sewer inhabited by monsters and vile incestuous desires.
    • Nina Graboi One Foot in the Future: A Woman's Spiritual Journey (2000), Chapter Twenty-three
  • I am fascinated by the fact that thousands of people continue to idealize and defend [Freud] without really knowing anything about him as a person.
    • Phyllis Grosskurth (1991). The Secret Ring: Freud’s Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis. Boston: Addison-Wesley, p. 219
  • The founder of modern religious existentialism and the founder of psychoanalysis could not have known one another. Kierkegaard died one half year before the birth of Freud, and it is very unlikely that Freud ever read any of Kierkegaard's works. Yet the two have much more in common than their lifelong preoccupation with the phenomenon of anxiety. The elucidation and treatment of the problem of anxiety in the works of both thinkers — who knew nothing of each other’s work — leads to most surprising results. They confirm each other in their conclusions; they criticize each other in their limitations; and they match each other perfectly.
    • Freud And The 20th Century 1958 Edited by Benjamin Nelson ISBN10 0548443815
  • I differ from Freud in that I think that most dreams are neither obscure nor bowdlerized, but rather that they are transparent and unedited. They reveal clearly meaningful undisguised and often highly conflictual themes worthy of note by the dreamer (and any interpretive assistant). My position echoes Jung's notion of dreams as transparently meaningful and does away with any distinction between manifest and latent content.
    • J. Allan Hobson, in The Dreaming Brain : How the brain creates both the sense and nonsense of dreams (1988)
  • Your technique of treating your pupils like patients is a blunder. In that way you produce either slavish sons or impudent puppies... I am objective enough to see through your little trick
  • The idea that different aspects of visual perception might be handled in separate areas of the brain was predicted by Freud... when he proposed that the inability of certain patients to recognize certain features of the visual world was due not to a sensory deficit, but to a cortical defect that affected their ability to combine aspects of vision into a meaningful pattern. These defects, which Freud called agnosias (loss of knowledge), can be quite specific.
  • The third great revolution, the Freudian revolution of Vienna 1900, revealed that we do not consciously control our own actions but are instead driven by unconscious motives. This... later led to the idea that human creativity... stems from conscious access to underlying, unconscious forces.
  • The realization that our mental functioning is largely irrational was arrived at by several thinkers at the same time, including Friedrich Nietzsche... Freud, who was much influenced by both Darwin and Nietzsche... was its most profound and articulate exponent. ...Schnitzler, Klimpt, Kokoschka, and Schiele also discovered and explored new aspects of our unconscious mental life. They understood women better than Freud... and they saw more clearly than Freud the importance of an infant's bonding to its mother. They even realized the significance of the aggressive instinct earlier than Freud did. ...Plato discussed unconscious knowledge ...pointing out that much of our knowledge is inherent in the psyche in latent form. ...Hermann von Helmholtz... advanced the idea that the unconscious plays a critical role in human visual perception.
  • One of the most important ways of understanding the unconscious—indeed, as Freud saw it, the royal road to discovering the nature of its contents—is the dream.
    • Morton Kelsey, Myth, History & Faith: The Mysteries of Christian Myth & Imagination (1974) Ch.VII
  • Freud’s cultural influence [on the West] is based, at least implicitly, on the premise that his theory is scientifically valid. But from a scientific point of view, classical Freudian psychoanalysis is dead as both a theory of the mind and a mode of therapy. No empirical evidence supports any specific proposition of psychoanalytic theory.... This is what Freud believed, and so far as we can tell Freud was wrong in every respect. For example, the unconscious mind revealed in laboratory studies of automaticity and implicit memory bears no resemblance to the unconscious mind of psychoanalytic theory... Freud also changed the vocabulary with which we understand ourselves and others. […] While Freud had an enormous impact on 20th century culture, he has been a dead weight on 20th century psychology . . . At best, Freud is a figure of only historical interest for psychologists. He is better studied as a writer, in departments of [Western] language and literature, than as a scientist, in departments of psychology. Psychologists can get along without him […] Of course, Freud lived at a particular period of time, and it might be argued that his theories were valid when applied to European culture at the turn of the last century, even if they are no longer apropos today. However, recent historical analyses show that Freud’s construal of his case material was systematically distorted and biased by his theories of unconscious conflict and infantile sexuality, and that he misinterpreted and misrepresented the scientific evidence available to him. Freud’s theories were not just a product of his time: they were misleading and incorrect even when he published them.
  • Whatever you call it, there is a struggle in the universe between good and evil. Now not only is that struggle structured out somewhere in the external forces of the universe, it's structured in our own lives. Psychologists have tried to grapple with it in their way, and so they say various things. Sigmund Freud used to say that this tension is a tension between what he called the id and the superego. Some of us feel that it's a tension between God and man.
  • Freud contended that the clitoral orgasm was adolescent, and that upon puberty, when women began having intercourse with men, women should transfer the center of orgasm to the vagina. The vagina, it was assumed, was able to produce a parallel, but more mature, orgasm than the clitoris. Much work was done to elaborate on this theory, but little was done to challenge the basic assumptions. To fully appreciate this incredible invention, perhaps Freud's general attitude about women should first be recalled. Mary Ellmann, in Thinking About Women, summed it up this way: "Everything in Freud's patronizing and fearful attitude toward women follows from their lack of a penis, but it is only in his essay The Psychology of Women that Freud makes explicit ... the deprecations of women which are implicit in his work. He then prescribes for them the abandonment of the life of the mind, which will interfere with their sexual function. When the psychoanalyzed patient is male, the analyst sets himself the task of developing the man's capacities; but with women patients, the job is to resign them to the limits of their sexuality. As Mr. Rieff puts it: For Freud, "Analysis cannot encourage in women new energies for success and achievement, but only teach them the lesson of rational resignation." It was Freud's feelings about women's secondary and inferior relationship to men that formed the basis for his theories on female sexuality. Once having laid down the law about the nature of our sexuality, Freud not so strangely discovered a tremendous problem of frigidity in women. His recommended cure for a woman who was frigid was psychiatric care. She was suffering from failure to mentally adjust to her "natural" role as a woman.
    • Anne Koedt, "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm" (1970)
  • Vladimir Nabokov said the two great evils of the 20th century were Marx and Freud. He was absolutely correct. Freud has saturated our culture. People operate on Freudian theory in almost everything they do and they're completely unaware of it. I'm really sensitive to how Freudian theory seized the day, because as a novelist I once wrote characters with complete Freudian backgrounds. The basic assumption of Freud is that none of us is responsible for what we are: What we are is a consequence of what our parents did to us, what our culture did to us, what society did to us, the injustices we've suffered. So, in essence, we're victims.
    What we do as a society is seek simple answers. Freudianism is a simple answer: If what everybody does is simply a result of what was done to them as a child by their parents, or their culture, then they're not really responsible. All we have to do is put them through a 12-step program and they'll cease being a serial killer or whatever. That's so grossly simplistic. And yet it has dominated the thinking of our century, especially our legal system.
  • my father was a Freudian analyst, as well as an anthropologist. He became a lay analyst. Freud said that dreaming is extremely important, and I probably absorbed that. Then I read Jung, and Jung has rather specific theories about dreams. Some of them made sense to me; some of them didn't.
  • Every time I see a photograph of Freud I wonder how a man who spent his whole life tête-à-tête with sex can look that gloomy.
  • For Freud the ultimate psychological reality is the system of attractions and tensions which attaches the child to parental images, and then through these to all other persons.
    • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as quoted in The Essential Writings of Merleau-Ponty (1969) edited by A. L. Fisher
  • There is no longer any risk that Freudian research will shock us by recalling what there is of the "barbarian" in us; the risk is rather that the findings will be too easily accepted in an "idealist" form.
    • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as quoted in The Essential Writings of Merleau-Ponty (1969) edited by A. L. Fisher
  • At one time, many philosophers held that faultless "laws of thought" were somehow inherent, a priori, in the very nature of mind. This belief was twice shaken in the past century; first when Russell and his successors showed how the logic men employ can be defective, and later when Freud and Piaget started to reveal the tortuous ways in which our minds actually develop.
  • Each child makes "internal models" that help them predict their Imprimers' reactions... as an "internalized" system of values—and this could be how people develop what we call ethics, conscience, or moral sense. Perhaps Sigmund Freud had such a process in mind when he suggested that children can "introject" some of their parents' attitudes.
    • Marvin Minsky, The Emotion Machine (2006)
  • Much research in psychology has been more concerned with how large groups of people behave than about the particular ways in which each individual person thinks... too statistical. I find this disappointing because, in my view of the history of psychology, far more was learned, for example, when Jean Piaget spent several years observing the ways that three children developed, or when Sigmund Freud took several years to examine the thinking of a rather small number of patients.
    • Marvin Minsky, The Emotion Machine (2006)
  • How much of a person's competence is based on knowing which actions not to take? We usually think of a person's abilities in positive terms... But one could take the opposite view that "An expert is someone who rarely slips up—because of knowing what not to do." However, this subject was rarely discussed in the twentieth-century—except, perhaps most notably, in Sigmund Freud's analysis.
    • Marvin Minsky, The Emotion Machine (2006)
  • Sigmund Freud's early view of the mind [is] as a system for dealing with conflicts between our instinctive and acquired ideas.
  • Freud is all nonsense; the secret of neurosis is to be found in the family battle of wills to see who can refuse the longest to help with the dishes.
  • Whereas Freud was for the most part concerned with the morbid effects of unconscious repression, Jung was more interested in the manifestations of unconscious expression, first in the dream and eventually in all the more orderly products of religion and art and morals.
  • ... I think he's crude. I think he's medieval. And I don't want an elderly gentleman from Vienna ... with an umbrella ... inflicting his dreams upon me.
  • As Dr. Sigmund Freud has observed, it can not even be said that the State has ever shown any disposition to suppress crime, but only to safeguard its own monopoly of crime.
  • When Freud comments on the shocking disparity between State-ethics and private ethics – and his observations on this point are most profound and searching – the historical method at once supplies the best of reasons why that disparity should be looked for.
  • American feminism’s nose dive began when Kate Millet, that imploding beanbag of poisonous self-pity, declared Freud a sexist. Trying to build a sex theory without studying Freud, women have made nothing but mud pies.
    • Camille Paglia (1991) "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders : Academe in the Hour of the Wolf." First published in Arion, Spring 1991, reprinted in Sex, Art and American Culture: New Essays (1992) ISBN 9780679741015, p. 243
  • The two deepest thinkers on sex in the twentieth century are Sigmund Freud and D.H. Lawrence. Their reputations as radical liberators were so universally acknowledged that brooding images of Freud and Lawrence in poster form adorned the walls of students in the Sixties.
    • Camille Paglia (1994), "No Law in the Arena: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality" in '"Vamps and Tramps: Essays NY: Vintage, p. 328
  • Doctor Freud not only used cocaine himself, but he also prescribed it to his patients. And then he drew his generalizations. Cocaine is a strong sexual arouser. That's why everything Freud invented — all those oedipuses, sphinxes and sphincters — is relevant only to a mental dimension of a patient, whose brain is turned to fried-eggs by cocaine. In such a state, one really has only one problem left — what to do first, to screw his mother or to do away with his father. Of course, until his cocaine runs out. And in those times, there were no problems with supplies. But so long as your daily dose is less than three grams, you don't have to fear either the Oedipus complex, nor other things discovered by Freud.
  • Freud was, after all, a genius. You can tell that because people still hate him.
  • Babies are … obviously narcissistic, but not in the way adults are, not even Spinoza's God, and I am a little afraid that Freud sometimes forgets that the narcissistic baby has no sense of self.
    • Jean Piaget, in The First Year of Life of the Child (1927), as quoted in The Essential Piaget (1977), edited by Howard E. Gruber and J. Jacques Vonèche
  • Yes, you hate me. But didn't I try to atone? If I'd been a real Nazi I'd have chosen Jung, nicht wahr? But I chose Freud instead, the Jew. Freud's vision of the world had no Buchenwalds in it. Buchenwald, according to Freud, once the light was let in, would become a soccer field, fat children would learn flower arranging and solfeggio in the strangling rooms.
  • Perhaps the last cultural fad one could still argue against was Karl Marx. But Freud — or Rawls? To argue against such persons is to grant them a premise they spend all of their effort disproving: that reason is involved in their theories.
    • Ayn Rand as quoted in The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. IV, No. 2 (November-December 1975)
  • Freud … agreed in principle to the importance of sexual health. But he did not want what sexual health entailed, the attack on certain institutions which opposed it.
    • Wilhelm Reich, as quoted in Reich Speaks of Freud (1967) edited by Mary Higgins and Chester M. Raphael
  • Analytic therapy is thus a form of re-education; Freud specifically called it that. It is re-education so far as it eliminates those symptoms through which the patient has tried, mistakenly, to resolve the contradictions in his life.
  • What hope there is derives from Freud’s assumption that human nature is not so much a hierarchy of high-low, and good-bad, as his predecessors believed, but rather a jostling democracy of contending predispositions, deposited in every nature in roughly equal intensities. … Psychoanalysis is full of such mad logic; it is convincing only if the student of his own life accepts Freud’s egalitarian revision of the traditional idea of a hierarchical human nature.
  • I think he, Christ and Marx are responsible for the world being the way it is—and I confer my thanks upon all of them, as I withhold it.
  • Man is essentially a dreamer, wakened sometimes for a moment by some peculiarly obtrusive element in the outer world, but lapsing again quickly into the happy somnolence of imagination. Freud has shown how largely our dreams at night are the pictured fulfilment of our wishes; he has, with an equal measure of truth, said the same of day-dreams; and he might have included the day-dreams which we call beliefs.
  • When I came to read Freud himself, I was amazed to discover how sensible his writings are and how much milder than what passes for Freudianism among the pseudo-intelligent.
  • We all grow up in a land of giants when we are very small... within us, surely, is some part of our childhood that hasn't disappeared and hasn't grown up. ...In your formative years, you learn from direct experience, absolutely incontrovertible, that there are much larger, much wiser, and much more powerful creatures in the universe than you. And your strongest emotional bonds are to them. ...and you must propitiate them. ...Isn't it... likely that there remains a part of us that is still in the practice of this...? Could that have something to do with prayer specifically and with religious beliefs in general? Well, this is in fact the scandalous view of Sigmund Freud in Totem and Taboo and The Future of an Illusion and other famous books of the first few decades of the twentieth century.
  • Freud's view was that "at bottom God is nothing more than an exalted father."... The view here is that we start out with a sense that our parents are omnipotent and omniscient... There's a part of us that has been inducted into a dominance hierarchy and doesn't like the uncertainty of having to deal with things for ourselves. of the many reasons that are given for the advantages of military life and other powerfully hierarchical societies is that it's not required to think for oneself very much. There's something calming about that. ...according to Freud, we then foist upon the cosmos our own emotional predispositions.
    • Carl Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (2006)
  • It is now clear that Freud was correct in positing the unconscious mind develops before the conscious and that the early development of the unconscious is equivalent to the genesis of a self-system that operates beneath conscious verbal levels for the rest of the life span.
    • Allan N. Shore (2009). “Relational Trauma and the Developing Right Brain: An Interface of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology and Neuroscience,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04474
  • Freud seems most accurate when describing people most like the nineteenth-century European bourgeoisie he lived among
    • Rebecca Solnit As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender, and Art (2001)
  • The two most original and creative figures in modern psychiatry, Freud and Jung were both proscribed by the Nazis … for both, though holding widely divergent views, upheld the value of the individual personality.
  • as Freud's views on the childhood source of mental disorder have permeated our culture, there has been mounted a wide campaign of mother-suspicion and mother-discreditation. From Sidney Howard's play The Silver Cord, in the mid-twenties, to Philip Roth's more recent Portnoy's Complaint, our literature has disseminated the idea that American women alternate a diet of husbands with a diet of sons.
    • Diana Trilling "Women's Liberation" in We Must March My Darlings (1977)
  • Freud … showed us that poetry is indigenous to the very constitution of the mind; he saw the mind as being, in the greater part of its tendency, exactly a poetry-making faculty.
    • Lionel Trilling, Beyond Culture (1965), p. 79
  • Probably no theory evolved by man is as absurd as Sigmund Freud's theory of penis envy. To a woman, the penis and scrotum seem superfluous to man's otherwise neatly constructed body. They are almost untidy. She cannot understand that after use the penis is not retractable like an aerial on a portable radio. And as for envy — it would never occur, even to a little girl. Not in her deepest unconscious would she wish to possess a penis; and as to being at a disadvantage compared to a little boy, that is nonsense, for she gets preferential treatment anyway.
    Freud was merely the victim of training by woman's self-abasement techniques — thanks to his mother, wife, and probably his daughters as well. He confused cause and effect; a woman only says she is worth less than a man. She doesn't really think it. If anyone ought to feel a sense of envy, it is men. They should be jealous of women's power. But, of course, they never are, for they glory in their powerlessness.
  • Many aspects of Freudian theory are indeed out of date, and they should be: Freud died in 1939, and he has been slow to undertake further revisions. His critics, however, are equally behind the times, attacking Freudian views of the 1920s as if they continue to have some currency in their original form.
  • The scientific debate on reports and recollections of child sexual abuse goes back to at least 1896, when Freud argued that repression of early childhood seduction (sexual molestation) had etiological significance for adult hysteria […]. He later recanted, saying that he was wrong about the repression of actual experiences of child sexual abuse and that it was fantasies (of sexual contact with parents or other adults) that drove the hysteria [..]. The research [in peer-reviewed publications in the 1980s and ‘90s] revisited the issue of repression of child sexual abuse and suggest that a large proportion of women sexually abused in childhood have no recall of the abuse. These studies support Freud's originally hypothesized connection between child sexual abuse, no recall of the abuse, and high levels of psychological symptoms in adulthood, at least in clinical samples.
    • Linda Meyer Williams (1994). “Recall of Childhood Trauma: A Prospective Study of Women's Memories of Child Sexual Abuse,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology Vol. 62, No. 6, 1167-1176
  • Freud is constantly claiming to be scientific. But what he gives is speculation — something prior even to the formation of an hypothesis.
  • Wisdom is something I would never expect from Freud. Cleverness, certainly; but not wisdom.
  • Freud … has not given an explanation of the ancient myth. What he has done is to propound a new myth.
  • Freud is an interesting case in the history of psychology. To many he is the embodiment of cultural relativism, with the great emphasis he placed on the role of the parents and family in the shaping of an individual’s personality. However, Freud deserves mention for two reasons. First, unlike many subsequent psychologists Freud was interested in ultimate questions; he was preoccupied by finding out why people behaved as they did, not simply how. Second, although many of these accounts were distinctly non-Darwinian (e.g. the Oedipus complex in which a male child desires to kill his father), some of his ideas are much more in line with recent Darwinian psychology.
    • Lance Workman and Will Reader, Evolutionary Psychology: An Introduction (2014), p. 19
  • Freud very rightly brought his critical faculties to bear upon the dream. It is, in fact, inadmissible that this considerable portion of psychic activity (since, at least from man’s birth until his death, thought offers no solution of continuity, the sum of the moments of the dream, from the point of view of time, and taking into consideration only the time of pure dreaming, that is the dreams of sleep, is not inferior to the sum of the moments of reality, or, to be more precisely limiting, the moments of waking) has still today been so grossly neglected.
    • Quote by André Breton, initiator of French Surrealism, from the first Manifesto of Surrealism - 1924; The Abridged Dictionary of Surrealism, reprinted in Marguerite Bonnet, ed. (1988). Oeuvres complètes, 1:328. Paris: Éditions Gallimard
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Psychologists Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) •William James (1842–1910) •Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) •Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) •Alfred Adler (1870–1937) •Edward Thorndike (1874–1949) •Carl Jung (1875–1961) •John B. Watson (1878–1958) •Clark L. Hull (1884–1952) •Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) •Jean Piaget (1896–1980) •Gordon Allport (1897–1967) •J. P. Guilford (1897–1987) •Carl Rogers (1902–1987) •Erik Erikson (1902–1994) •B. F. Skinner (1904–1990) •Donald O. Hebb (1904–1985) •Ernest Hilgard (1904–2001) •Harry Harlow (1905–1981) •Viktor Frankl (1905–1997) •Raymond Cattell (1905–1998) •Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) •Neal E. Miller (1909–2002) •Jerome Bruner (1915–2016) •Donald T. Campbell (1916–1996) •Hans Eysenck (1916–1997) •Herbert A. Simon (1916–2001) •David McClelland (1917–1998) •Leon Festinger (1919–1989) •George A. Miller (1920–2012) •Richard Lazarus (1922–2002) •Stanley Schachter (1922–1997) •Robert Zajonc (1923–2008) •Albert Bandura (1925–2021) •Roger Brown (1925–1997) •Endel Tulving (b. 1927) •Lawrence Kohlberg (1927–1987) •Ulric Neisser (1928–2012) •Jerome Kagan (1929–2021) •Walter Mischel (1930–2018) •Elliot Aronson (b. 1932) •Daniel Kahneman (b. 1934) •Paul Ekman (b. 1934) •Michael Posner (b. 1936) •Amos Tversky (1937–1996) •Bruce McEwen (1938–2020) •Larry Squire (b. 1941) •Richard E. Nisbett (b. 1941) •Martin Seligman (b. 1942) •Ed Diener (1946–2021) •Shelley E. Taylor (b. 1946) •John Anderson (b. 1947) •Ronald C. Kessler (b. 1947) •Joseph E. LeDoux (b. 1949) •Richard Davidson (b. 1951) •Susan Fiske (b. 1952) •Roy Baumeister (b. 1953)