The 20th century was full of great technological and scientific discoveries. Many scientists of that time changed the perspectives of the science at whole and in the separate branches in particular. In psychology, the 20th century was a century of Sigmund Freud (Roth, 1998). His works, such as “The Interpretation of Dreams” (1900), “Psychopathology of Everyday Life” (1901), “General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. Lectures” (1915 - 1916), achieved phenomenal success (Borch-Jacobsen & Shamdasani, 2011). Freud changed the human ideas about themselves. He can be compared to Charles Darwin, who showed that humans descended from “lower” animals. Freud claimed that one could control and understand the subconscious forces only in the long-term therapeutic process, which he called psychoanalysis.
The peculiarity of Freud’s impact on psychological medicine is his unusual clinical practice and theoretic approach. First, one could have seen in various movies that psychoanalysis is always performed as: the patient is lying on the couch and telling the therapist what is bothering him/her. Freud was the first to invent this practice. He considered that the relaxation is the only way to trust, and trust, in its turn, is the foundation for successful treatment. The principle of trust and relaxation are used until nowadays as the best tool for achieving good results in psychotherapy.
Freud conducted his psychoanalysis practices 8-10 hours daily for many decades (Roth, 1998). His patients were basically his clinical trials. In fact, Freud was one of the first to conduct clinical trials and apply personal practice experience to create a theoretical base and use the dogmas he discovered on his patients. Based on his clinical practice facts, he traced the complexity and diversity of personality structure, the value of internal conflict and crisis and the consequences of unsatisfied desires in its history (Westen, 1998). What is important about these findings is that they were all practical. Therefore, Freud turned the psychological medicine into a practical realm and, thus, enriched the psychological practice. He, in fact, taught the psychological science to take into account the scientific analysis phenomena.
The first thing Freud and psychoanalysis are associated with are sexual experiences role and associated emotional trauma. Despite the psychologist was too concentrated on the sexual basis of every action, trauma, disorder and behavior, his research has given impetus to the development of new field of knowledge - sexology (Borch-Jacobsen & Shamdasani, 2011). Freud showed that sexuality is an important sphere of human self-esteem, self-confidence and behavior. What is more, he traced the origins of the psychological pathologies in the childhood and also indicated the importance of finding the emergence of human nature, its structure and dynamics, considering child experiences, especially family relationships that affect the formation of the character and motivation.
Human Behavior and Emotions
What is the most important about Freud’s impact is that he considered the side of human behavior and emotions that were not studied in traditional psychology. These are a sense of guilt, inadequacy, anxiety, withdrawal from the real situation in the field of dreams, the appearance of the inner tendency to aggressiveness and other. The traditional psychological science dealt with conscious human reactions and behaviors. Freud, in his turn, opened the realm of subconscious – human hidden desires and worries. He was the first to find the connection between dreams, i.e. subconscious, and the reasons of human actions and thought. In fact, Freud paid a lot of attention to person’s thoughts since he believed that when the psychotherapist attentively listens to his patient’s thoughts and reads between the lines he is able to find the base for the psychological problem (Roth, 1998). Thus, his approach was close to the client-centered one since he valued his patients’ opinions.
In the Freud’s period, the mental was more important that physical. He was eager to start a new psychological science, dealing with human emotions, thought, wishes and feelings (“Ideas and Trends”, 1989). Nowadays, the brain processes mainly explain his concepts physically. Freud tried to develop the mental part of these.
His notions became a foundation for modern cultural art forms. In a search of the answer and evidence for his theory, Freud researched human unconscious. Similarly, in search of protection from natural disasters the ancients have passed the stage of worshiping stone, water and fire (Westen, 1998). Perhaps, that way the art of creating sculptures and jewelry originated from fetishism. Every nation around the globe and from time immemorial created stone statues and various compositions. In stone people have tried to show the perfect ideal of male and female beauty. It is the foremost and fundamental influence of olden cultural artistic forms upon modern ones – they are to depict beauty, nature and be aesthetic.
Ancient people actively began to learn themselves and the world. Therefore, artistic form became the only thing to express what he leart. However, nowadays the same techniques and structures obtain the different meaning. For example, in ancient times, sculpture was to illustrate beauty, power and uniqueness of a man, the lines and shapes of statues were perfect. Nowadays, sculpture tend to depict the negative sides of the humanity, its influence upon the environment and other. The primary goal to represent beauty and call for aesthetic feeling went to the past and today the prior goal of sculpture is to make think about some values (Meecham, & Sheldon, 2013).
The Modern Art
As to music, theatre and painting, their original structure and meaning are also lost. Nowadays, music turned from an art mostly in the entertainment. On the opposite, ancient music was to describe the surrounding world, aggrandize human beauty and power. However, nowadays, music became senseless and the very structure of it has changed – the abundance of musical instruments, styles and direction erased the initial value of musical art form. Theatre was a spiritual art form since it depicted legends, believes and thought of antiquity. Modern theatre is more material and mundane. It tends to depict the human life instead of calling for spiritual foundations. As for painting, it also changed its meaning. Primitive art and the art of backward tribes and peoples and their desire to dig into deep and mysterious way of culture and art appearance are often considered to be one of the sources of modern abstract art. However, in most times it is simply an attempt to transcript the surrounding reality onto the painting (Meecham, & Sheldon, 2013).
Perhaps, these changes occurred due to a change in the meaning of culture and thought. Ancient people perceived the world more individually and spiritually. Modern artists view culture mostly from the anthropological viewpoint. The difference is obvious – individuals perceive culture as a spiritual instrument shaping the reality and thoughts. On the other side, anthropologically culture is an interaction of the human psyche and the surrounding reality, primarily physical (Meecham, & Sheldon, 2013). Nowadays, culture is perceived as a school of thought, but in ancient times, the thought formed a culture.
Sigmund Freud’s contribution to the development of psychology is huge, and its influence on the Western civilization is undeniable. He can be compared to ancient artists, who created the base for future art development. Even after his death the controversy surrounding his theories and ideas not only have not terminated, but also continue till this day. Freud was a representative of an ancient perception of the world – he considered the human beauty (i.e. subconscious) as the thing to reflect and investigate, and this turned psychological medicine into new direction.
- “Ideas and trends: How Freud shaped the 20th-century mind.” (1989, November 26). The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/26/weekinreview/ideas-and-trends-how-freud-shaped-the-20th-century-mind.html?src=pm&pagewanted=1
- Borch-Jacobsen, M., & Shamdasani, S. (2011). The Freud files: An inquiry into the history of psychoanalysis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- Meecham, P., & Sheldon, J. (2013). Modern art: a critical introduction. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Roth, M. (1998). Freud: Conflict and culture. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
- Westen, D. (1998). The scientific legacy of Sigmund Freud: Toward a psychodynamically informed psychological science. Psychological Bulletin, 124(3), 333-371.