Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud [ˈziːgmʊnt ˈfrɔʏ̯t] was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. He was the grandfather of Sir Clement Freud and Lucian Freud.


  • 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)

  • 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.
    • Studies in Hysteria (1895)
      • Recited from:

  • Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.
    • Origins of Psychoanalysis Letter to Wilhelm Fliess (October 15, 1897)

  • I do not in the least underestimate bisexuality. . . I expect it to provide all further enlightenment.
    • Letter to Wilhelm Fliess (25 March 1898)

  • 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.
    • Letter to Wilhelm Fliess (7 August 1901)

  • 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.
    • Complete Psychological Works, Dora (1905)

  • Conscience is the internal perception of the rejection of a particular wish operating within us.
    • Complete Psychological Works, Totem and Taboo (1905)

  • At bottom God is nothing more than an exalted father.
    • Complete Psychological Works, Totem and Taboo (1905)

  • 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.
    • The First Dream Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905)

  • 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)

  • 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

  • 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); from Lionel Trilling's The Liberal Imagination

  • 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.
    • The Future of an Illusion, ch. 8 (1927)

  • 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.
    • The Future of an Illusion (1928)

  • One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be “happy” is not included in the plan of “Creation.”
    • Civilization and Its Discontents, ch. 2 (1930)

  • 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)

  • The Mosaic religion had been a Father religion; Christianity became a Son religion. The old God, the Father, took second place; Christ, the Son, stood in His stead, just as in those dark times every son had longed to do.
    • Moses and Monotheism (1938)

  • 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 ... 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

  • Admittedly an unusual state, but not one that can be stigmatized as pathological.
    • Referring to romantic love in Civilization and its Discontents

  • America is a mistake, admittedly a gigantic mistake, but a mistake nevertheless.
    • To Ernest Jones ("Amerika ist ein Fehler, zugegeben ein gigantischer Fehler, aber nichtsdestotrotz ein Fehler.")

  • A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success.
    • From Ernest Jones' Life and Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. I, ch. 1 (1953)

  • Was will das Weib?
    • What does a woman want?
    • More extensive variant: 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?"
    • Letter to Marie Bonaparte, as quoted in Sigmund Freud: Life and Work (1955) by Ernest Jones, Vol. 2, Pt. 3, Ch. 16

  • 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?
    • 1931 Letter to Dr. David Feuchtwang. Quoted in Rice, Emanuel (1990). Freud and Moses: The Long Journey Home. SUNY Press, p. 25.

New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1932)

  • Analogies prove nothing, that is quite true, but they can make one feel more at home.

  • 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)


  • A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.
    • This is not a statement that appears in any translation of any of Freud's 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.
Due to misreading of this essay and its citations, this paraphrase of an opinion about Freud's ideas has been wrongly 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.

  • [About the Irish] This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.

Quotes about Freud

  • He had a sharp vision; no illusions lulled him to sleep except for an often exaggerated faith in his own ideas.
    • Albert Einstein

  • 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.
    • Lewis Mumford in Interpretations and Forecasts (1967)

  • 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.
    • Victor Pelevin, in The Sacred Book of the Werewolf: A Novel (2004)

  • 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)
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