Graziano and Raulin (8th ed)Graziano & Raulin
Research Methods (8th edition)

Sigmund Freud (1856-1938) brought together many existing ideas about psychological functioning. He popularized psychodynamic theory and developed a treatment approach, psychoanalysis. He is not so much a creator of new ideas, but he organized and synthesized ideas from many sources. He borrowed extensively from the romantic philosophy of the late 18th Century. 

Freud’s most influential work was his study of human unconscious processes. This was work that he conducted at a time when psychologists, such as Wundt’s experimentalists, Titchener’s structuralists, and the American functionalists and behaviorists, were all primarily interested in human consciousness and/or overt behavior.

Freud used single case studies as his primary research methodology. Case studies provide clinically rich information, but are of questionable validity and reliability. As we noted in the introduction to this section, case-study research methodology does not hold up well to the scrutiny and evaluation of modern science. The value of the research has been more heuristic than systematic. (For more discussion of Freud’s research, see Chapter 6 in the textbook.)

Freud attracted many followers, such as Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney, Gordon Allport, Henry Murray, and Erik Erikson. These people accepted many of his ideas, but some were also critical of aspects of Freudian theory, particularly Freud’s emphasis on sexual factors in personality development.

Freud’s influence on psychology was primarily in the applied area of clinical psychology, where psychoanalysis flourished for a time. Freudian theory and approaches have influenced psychiatry, medicine, anthropology, history, sociology, and other disciplines. 

There is no doubting that Freud’s skills in popularizing his models and attracting adherents have had enormous impact on culture. Indeed, few individuals have had so much cultural impact. In that respect Freud is in the good company of Darwin and Einstein.

Some of his important works (translated and published posthumously) include The Interpretation of Dreams (1938), The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1938), Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1959), and The Ego and the Id (1959).


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