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Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) was an Austrian-born medical doctor who became the founding father of psychoanalysis. What does a woman want?

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis of human personality

Sources of quotes: WikiQuotes, EGS, GoodReads, BrainyQuotes, TheMost10, GoogleBooks,


Quotations of Sigmund Freud

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?”

Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.

Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.

Poets are masters of us ordinary men, in knowledge of the mind, because they drink at streams which we have not yet made accessible to science.

Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis … mankind will surmount this neurotic phase, just as so many children grow out of their similar neurosis

It would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent providence, and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be. [This appears to be a bit of comic irony.]

Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.

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.

Nature delights in making use of the same forms in the most various biological connections: as it does, for instance, in the appearance of branch-like structures both in coral and in plants, and indeed in some forms of crystal and in certain chemical precipitates.

Where questions of religion are concerned, people are guilty of every possible sort of dishonesty and intellectual misdemeanor.

In the depths of my heart I can’t help being convinced that my dear fellow-men, with a few exceptions, are worthless.

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.

In almost every place where we find totems we also find a law against persons of the same totem having sexual relations with one another and consequently against their marrying. This, then, is ‘exogamy’, an institution related to totemism.

Immorality, no less than morality, has at all times found support in religion.

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.

Life, as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains, disappointments and impossible tasks. In order to bear it we cannot dispense with palliative measures… There are perhaps three such measures: powerful deflections, which cause us to make light of our misery; substitutive satisfactions, which diminish it; and intoxicating substances, which make us insensible to it.

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.

Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces.

The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.
A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror.

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.

Children are completely egoistic; they feel their needs intensely and strive ruthlessly to satisfy them.

The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.

Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.

The goal of all life is death. [This is morbidly false, the goal of life is to survive the moment, and have sex, to reproduce its DNA]

He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.
Men are strong so long as they represent a strong idea they become powerless when they oppose it.

Analogies, it is true, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home.

The doctor should be opaque to his patients and, like a mirror, should show them nothing but what is shown to him.

If a man has been his mother’s undisputed darling he retains throughout life the triumphant feeling, the confidence in success, which not seldom brings actual success along with it.

The goal towards which the pleasure principle impels us – of becoming happy – is not attainable: yet we may not – nay, cannot – give up the efforts to come nearer to realization of it by some means or other.

It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.

Objections can be made against the ethical demands of the cultural super-ego.  It, too, does not trouble itself enough about the facts of the mental constitution of human beings. It issues a command and does not ask whether it is possible for people to obey it. [See my complaint against Kant’s Categorical Imperative.] On the contrary, it assumes that a man’s ego is psychologically capable of anything that is required of it, that his ego has unlimited mastery over his id. This is a mistake; and even in what are known as normal people the id cannot be controlled beyond certain limits. If more is demanded of a man, a revolt will be produced in him or a neurosis, or he will be made unhappy. The commandment, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’, is the strongest defense against human aggressiveness and an excellent example of the unpsychological [expectations] of the cultural super-ego. The commandment is impossible to fulfill; such an enormous inflation of love can only lower its value, not get rid of the difficulty. Civilization pays no attention to all this; it merely admonishes us that the harder it is to obey the precept the more meritorious it is to do so. But anyone who follows such a precept in present-day civilization only puts himself at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the person who disregards it. What a potent obstacle to civilization aggressiveness must be, if the defense against it can cause as much unhappiness as aggressiveness itself! ‘Natural’ ethics, as it is called, has nothing to offer here except the narcissistic satisfaction of being able to think oneself better than others. At this point the ethics based on religion introduces its promises of a better after-life. But so long as virtue is not rewarded here on earth, ethics will, I fancy, preach in vain. I too think it quite certain that a real change in the relations of human beings to possessions would be of more help in this direction than any ethical commands; but the recognition of this fact among socialists has been obscured and made useless for practical purposes by a fresh idealistic misconception of human nature. Civilization and its Discontents p. 151


COMMENTS on the Quotations of Sigmund Freud

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?” When I read this famous quote it became apparent, to me at least, that the Eveish Selection theory answers that question, just as it answers many other questions of why humans possess the many evolutionary unusual qualities which they do clearly possess. “Human women make their selection of mates based not only on animal vigor but on all of the qualities in a mate including those which distinguish humans from other animals. It is a very complex decision process because the environment is very complex and the qualities being valued are difficult to assess, even for humans. Women converse at great length with each other about humans, the various human qualities and it is generally given the derogatory name of gossip. But, it is this measuring of humans against some infinitely variable complex of qualities which is what gossip is about and it is what ultimately improves the quality of the human species from one generation to the next.” To answer Freud’s question directly, “What does a woman want?” For their chosen mate women want to maximize all of the qualities that make a man human. This varies greatly depending on the situation, but the sum total of billions of choices is what make our species what it is.

Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it. By the Eveish Selection theory the answer to Freud’s problem is – the appreciation of beauty is one of the qualities our historical mothers have selected for in their mates. The obvious use of beauty is that it pleases women, and the appreciation of beauty helps to form social groups. 

Nature delights in making use of the same forms in the most various biological connections, as it does, for instance, in the appearance of branch-like structures both in coral and in plants, and indeed in some forms of crystal and in certain chemical precipitates. This is an observation made by others too, and which I generalize into a theory in my comments on convergent in yesterday’s post on Daniel Dennett.