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Quotes by Sigmund Freud


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Sigmund Freud Quotes about Character & Truth

“I am actually not at all a man of science, not an observer, not an experimenter, not a thinker. I am by temperament nothing but a conquistador — an adventurer, if you want it translated — with all the curiosity, daring, and tenacity characteristic of a man of this sort.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Letter to Wilhelm Fliess

“Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Letter to Wilhelm Fliess

“It often seems that the poet’s derisive comment is not unjustified when he says of the philosopher: “With his nightcaps and the tatters of his dressing-gown he patches the gaps in the structure of the universe.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1932)

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Future of an Illusion (1927)

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Anxiety and Instinctual Life

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Sigmund Freud Quotes about Dreams

“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)

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Sigmund Freud Quotes about Life

Sigmund Freud Quotes about Life

“The act of birth is the first experience of anxiety, and thus the source and prototype of the affect of anxiety.”

– Sigmund Freud

“A man like me cannot live without a hobby-horse, a consuming passion — in Schiller’s words a tyrant. I have found my tyrant, and in his service I know no limits. My tyrant is psychology. It has always been my distant, beckoning goal and now since I have hit upon the neuroses, it has come so much the nearer.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Letter to William Fless (1895)

“The poets and philosophers before me discovered the unconscious; what I discovered was the scientific method by which the unconscious can be studied.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in On his seventieth birthday (1926); as quoted in The Liberal Imagination (1950) by Lionel Trilling

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud

“…three of life’s most important areas: work, love, and taking responsibility.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in From The Wolf-man and Sigmund Freud Muriel Gardiner

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Sigmund Freud Quotes about Love

“How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Letter to his fiancée Martha Bernays (27 June 1882)

“Towards the outside, at any rate, the ego seems to maintain clear and sharp lines of demarcation. There is only one state — admittedly an unusual state, but not one that can be stigmatized as pathological — in which it does not do this. At the height of being in love the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away. Against all the evidence of his senses, a man who is in love declares that “I” and “you” are one, and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Civilization and Its Discontents

“[Freud] said once to Marie Bonaparte: ‘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?”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Sigmund Freud: Life and Work (Hogarth Press, 1953) by Ernest Jones

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Sigmund Freud Quotes about Psychology

Sigmund Freud Quotes about Psychology

 “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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Studies on Hysteria (1895)

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905)

“Conscience is the internal perception of the rejection of a particular wish operating within us.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics

“When the wayfarer whistles in the dark, he may be disavowing his timidity, but he does not see any more clearly for doing so.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Problem of Anxiety (1925)


“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Dream Psychology : Psychoanalysis For Beginners (1920)

“We obtain our concept of the unconscious, therefore, from the theory of repression … We see, however that we have two kinds of unconscious — that which is latent but capable of becoming conscious, and that which is repressed and not capable of becoming conscious in the ordinary way.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Ego and the Id


“The ego represents what we call reason and sanity, in contrast to the id which contains the passions.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Ego and the Id

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Anatomy of the Mental Personality

“The ego is not master in its own house.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis (1917)

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Anatomy of the Mental Personality


Sigmund Freud Quotes about Religion

“One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be “happy” is not included in the plan of “Creation.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Civilization and Its Discontents (1929)

“Religious ideas have sprung from the same need as all the other achievements of culture: from the necessity for defending itself against the crushing supremacy of nature.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Future of an Illusion

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in A Philosophy of Life


“Where the questions of religion are concerned people are guilty of every possible kind of insincerity and intellectual misdemeanor.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Future of an Illusion

“Cruelty and intolerance to those who do not belong to it are natural to every religion.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921)

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

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Future of an Illusion

“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. Observation found the breath of air again in the human breath, which ceases with death; even today we talk of a dying man breathing his last. 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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Moses and Monotheism (1938)


“At bottom God is nothing more than an exalted father.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Totem and Taboo : Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics (1913)

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Moses and Monotheism (1938)

“If the truth of religious doctrines is dependent on an inner experience that bears witness to the truth, what is one to make of the many people who do not have that experience?”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Future of an Illusion (1927)

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

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in A Philosophy of Life

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Future of an Illusion (1927)

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Future of an Illusion

“A poor girl may have an illusion that a prince will come and fetch her home. It is possible, some such cases have occurred. That the Messiah will come and found a golden age is much less probable.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Future of an Illusion

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Sigmund Freud Quotes about Sexuality

Sigmund Freud Quotes about sexuality

“A person who feels pleasure in producing pain in someone else in a sexual relationship is also capable of enjoying as pleasure any pain which he may himself derive from sexual relations. A sadist is always at the same time a masochist.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality

“The sexual wishes in regard to the mother become more intense and the father is perceived as an obstacle to the; this gives rise to the Oedipus complex.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Ego and the Id

“A man’s heterosexuality will not put up with any homosexuality, and vice versa.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in “Analysis Terminable and Interminable” (1937)

“Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Letter to an American mother’s plea to cure her son’s homosexuality (1935)


Sigmund Freud Quotes about Society

“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.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Civilization and Its Discontents

“It goes without saying that a civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in The Future of an Illusion

“The psychic development of the individual is a short repetition of the course of development of the race.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Leonardo da Vinci (1916)

“What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.”

– Sigmund Freud, as quoted in Letter to Ernest Jones (1933), as quoted in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993) by Robert Andrews


Quotes about Sigmund Freud

“In the early twentieth century the concepts of the preconscious and unconscious were made widely popular, especially in literary circles, by Freud, Jung, and their associates, mainly because of the sexual flavor they gave to them. By modern standards, Freud can hardly be regarded as a scientist but rather as a physician who had many novel ideas and who wrote persuasively and unusually well. He became the main founder of the new cult of psychoanalysis.”

– Francis Crick, as quoted in The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (1994)

“American feminism’s nose dive began when Kate Millet, that imploding beanbag of poisonous self-pity, declared Freud a sexist. Trying to build a sex theory without studying Freud, women have made nothing but mud pies.”

– Camille Paglia, as quoted in “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders : Academe in the Hour of the Wolf.”

“A few professional alienists understood his importance, but to most of the public he appeared as some kind of German sexologist, an exponent of free love who used big words to talk about dirty things. At least a decade would have to pass before Freud would have his revenge and see his ideas begin to destroy sex in America forever.”

– E. L. Doctorow, as quoted in Ragtime: A Novel (1976)

“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

“When I came to read Freud himself, I was amazed to discover how sensible his writings are and how much milder than what passes for Freudianism among the pseudo-intelligent.”

– Bertrand Russell, “On Orthodoxies” (23 August 1933), in Mortals and Others: Bertrand Russell’s American Essays

“That human nature and society can have conflicting demands, and hence that a whole society can be sick, is an assumption which was made very explicitly by Freud, most extensively in his Civilization and Its Discontent. …he arrives at the concept of “social neurosis.” “If the evolution of civilization,” he writes, “has such a far-reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization — or epics of it — possibly even the whole of humanity — have become ‘neurotic’ under the pressure of the civilizing trends?”

– Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1955)

“As Dr. Sigmund Freud has observed, it cannot even be said that the State has ever shown any disposition to suppress crime, but only to safeguard its own monopoly of crime.”

– Albert Jay Nock, in Our Enemy, The State (1935)


“Much research in psychology has been more concerned with how large groups of people behave than about the particular ways in which each individual person thinks… too statistical. I find this disappointing because, in my view of the history of psychology, far more was learned, for example, when Jean Piaget spent several years observing the ways that three children developed, or when Sigmund Freud took several years to examine the thinking of a rather small number of patients.”

– Marvin Minsky, The Emotion Machine (2006)


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

– Albert Einstein, as quoted in Sigmund Freud (2006) by Kathleen Krull and Boris Kulikov

“Many aspects of Freudian theory are indeed out of date, and they should be: Freud died in 1939, and he has been slow to undertake further revisions. His critics, however, are equally behind the times, attacking Freudian views of the 1920s as if they continue to have some currency in their original form.”

– Drew Westen, as quoted in The scientific legacy of Sigmund Freud: Toward a psychodynamically informed psychological science

“Freud was one of the last representatives of Enlightenment philosophy. He genuinely believed in reason as the one strength man has and which alone could save him from confusion and decay.”

– Erich Fromm, in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1977)


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