The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, 1901, by Sigmund Freud

The book Psychopathology of Everyday Life by Sigmund Freud was first published in 1901. A.A Brill did its translation into English in the year 1914. It is without a doubt one of Freud's most widely discussed and influential works. The work is not as technical as Freud's other works and draws on everyday experiences. In the book, he tries to give a concise explanation behind everyday actions. These include such things as forgetting a person's name, common slips of the tongue and others.

This work by Sigmund was a further advancement into works he had already published. Essentially, he was furthering the idea of the subconscious. He believed that dreams were part of the subconscious. Freud suggests that no matter how far out a dream may seem, it is related to some aspect of everyday life. Freud came to this conclusion after careful analysis of mental patients suffering hysteria and other related illnesses. He suggested that subtle things as forgetting dates of important occasions and meaningless accident were all due to this subconscious. In short, Freud suggested that there was meaning behind even the most meaningless human actions. He stated that he believed that all random acts of a person were preconceived in the subconscious without a person's awareness.

Freud postulated that the main driving force of the subconscious developed over many years. He believed that society and the moral education of an individual were key parts of the subconscious. However, a person can consciously suppress these states. This suppression is not always successful, according to Freud. Every once in a while, the suppressed subconscious will find a way out. The resultant act is thus in fact an interference by the subconscious on the conscious. For instance, Freud suggests that when one forgets a name, it is not merely a random act. In fact, it is because of a conflict in the mind between the conscious and subconscious. The name, which is pronounced in place of the original name, is thus a compromise made by these two conflict states.

In his book, Freud puts forth many such examples, giving a detailed analysis in each case. He first suggests a random, everyday act and then gives a detailed interpretation of the same. All Freud explanations follow a basic three-step pattern; in the first step, there is an unknown urge for an individual to forget a name. In the second step, suppression by the subconscious takes place. Lastly, Freud demonstrates the relationship that exists between the forgotten name or other action and the individuals past experience. In his book, Freud shows an undeniable influence that the subconscious has on our lives. Freud then suggests that all human activity is controlled. For instance, he suggests that it is impossible for someone to mention a random name or number without being driven by the subconscious. Fred thus suggests that dreams and everyday life are quite alike.

In that same manner, Freud suggests that the tendency to forget important events is due to subconscious suppression. Freud suggests that there is universally common for individuals to forget traumatizing experiences. For his explanation, he gives a personal experience. He tells of a story where he was unable to recall a former patient despite her name appearing in his books of accounts. It was only after much labored thought that he finally remembered who she was. However, the child had died due to a misdiagnosis of the real cause of her symptoms. What was thought to have be a mental illness was in fact the physical manifestation on of a deadly illness. Naturally, this incident must have deeply troubling for him. He suggests that his subconscious thus reacted by suppressing any memory of the incident from his conscious mind.

Freud mostly applied his research in treating mental patients. Thus, he suggested that psychosis were just exaggerated manifestations of the subconscious. Consequently, he suggested that the difference between the normal and mentally ill was no clearly discernible. Instead, he suggested it was a gradual process where the subconscious would gain too much control over the conscious.

More than one hundred years after it was published, Freud's work has continued to generate much controversy. Most criticism directed towards the work is due to the use of anecdotal evidence. Critics argue that the work was not based on any scientific method. Instead, Freud made mere observations and used his own earlier works as evidence. This book however contains many flaws. Thus, it is not recommended for patients who may suffer from mental problems. Most of the conclusions are clearly erroneous. It is also of interest to note that the book is one of Freud's works that is the least sexualized.

Despite much criticism of the book, Sigmund Freud greatly contributed to development of psychoanalysis. His techniques, though rudimentary at the time of conception helped to redefine psychoanalysis. Throughout his life, Freud helped to develop the concept of the subconscious mind. He suggested that the mind was like an iceberg, the conscious part of the mind being the tip of the iceberg. However, what lies underneath has the greatest influence on our lives. Freud called this hidden part of our minds the subconscious.

Despite the fact that most of his early works have been proven wrong, he did still make an important contribution to psychology. His contributions include areas such as the early onset of adult personality during formative years, the significance of ambivalent tendencies, the different stages in development of the mind, and most significantly the discovery of the subconscious mind. It is quite clear that his works will continue to generate much interest in the years to come. Modern scientific advances for instance, suggest a completely different source of speech from what Freud Suggested. Studies have shown that simple acts such as forgetting words may have nothing to do with repressed memories. However, Freud demonstrated is that there is a way to cure mental problems such as hysteria. By helping patients gain a deeper understanding of themselves, they can effectively rid of themselves of any illness.