Junior (College 3rd year) ・Psychology ・APA ・1 Sources

The philosophical doctrine emphasizing personal existence and uniqueness was founded by existentialists. Existentialism was the name given to this intellectual theory. It was a 19th and 20th century philosophical inquiry. Existentialism was advocated by European philosophers Soren Kierkegaard and Fredrich Nietzsche, with Soren Kierkegaard regarded as its father. Existentialists maintained that when people succeed in life, they give themselves a meaning or essence.
In the face of ludicrous phrases, existentialists contended that an individual's beginning point for having an existential attitude and feature. According to Izenberg (2015), the most important aspect of the existential method of thinking is its sincerity. Some of the ideas of existentialist includes, freedom to formulation of choices, awareness about one personal existence, and responsibility on ones actions and consequence.

Freud was the forefather of the psychoanalytic school of psychotherapy. Sigmund Freud came up with psychoanalysis theories to the psychosexual development. There is no straight forward distinction between Freud’s psychoanalysis and existential psychoanalysis because Freud did not directly apply the theoretical terms of existence. Freud’s psychoanalysis theory has no roots in existentialist ideas of human psyche. However, Freud emphasized on the past affective nature of human to determine the features and behavior of a person which outlines the present while influencing the way the future comes. He came up with the psychoanalytic theory from his start as a Neuroscientist and uncovered three types of anxiety where he claims it’s the function of the ego to control anxiety. He named the types of anxiety to be neurotic, moral, and objective.

Freud demonstrated appearance of the psyche as fragmented from how he displays the id and the ego. He unfolds characteristics related to existentialist thesis. This manifests to the understanding where psychoanalytic theory reduces the willingness of a person’s action to structure of desire. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory cannot be in anyway simplified to existentialism purely because of his view of the psyches. Freud’s models of persons psyche are not static but subject to change and have time into their account.

According to Freud, a person is born as an empty slate which he terms as tabula rasa. The distinction between Freud’s psychoanalysis and existential psychoanalysis is on the emphasis which each places on the relation between the past and the future could be used to address their coincidence and distinctions which separates them (Izenberg, 2015). Existentialism as a national foundation led for psychoanalysis due to the clinical emphasis on individual coming into a dialogue with one another concerning their emotional problems and crisis. Freud’s special attention on the psychoanalysis nature as the bases for future neuroscience. Psychoanalytic nature takes place at the individual level in opposition to sub individual level.

Having had no straight distinction between Freud’s theories and existentialists ideas, one may not argue that Freud borrowed his terms from existentialists. This is because the way he applies them differs from those of existentialists. Psychoanalysis and existentialism differs in the way Freud places the past and the future differently from existentialist, he demonstrates appearance of the psyche as subject to change as discussed above.


Izenberg, G. N. (2015). The Existentialist Critique of Freud: The Crisis of Autonomy. Princeton University Press.

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