Sigmund Freud Quotes

Children are completely egoistic; they feel their needs intensely and strive ruthlessly to satisfy them.
Sigmund Freud (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899)
From error to error one discovers the entire truth.
Sigmund Freud
What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.
Sigmund Freud (Quoted in Freud and America, 1994)
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Sigmund Freud
The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion, 1927)
What we call happiness in the strictest sense comes from the (preferably sudden) satisfaction of needs which have been dammed up to a high degree, and it is from its nature only possible as an episodic phenomenon.
Sigmund Freud (Totem and Taboo, 1913)
To love and to work.
Sigmund Freud (When asked on what he thought a normal person should be able to do well)
The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion, 1927)
Men are more moral than they think and far more immoral than they can imagine.
Sigmund Freud
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 (The Future of an Illusion, 1927)
We have long observed that every neurosis has the result, and therefore probably the purpose, of forcing the patient out of real life, of alienating him from actuality.
Sigmund Freud (General Psychological Theory)
America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success.
Sigmund Freud (Quoted in Sigmund Freud: His Life and Mind, 1992)
Genetically the asocial nature of the neurosis springs from its original tendency to flee from a dissatisfying reality to a more pleasurable world of phantasy. This real world which neurotics shun is dominated by the society of human beings and by the institutions created by them; the estrangement from reality is at the same time a withdrawal from human companionship.
Sigmund Freud (Totem and Taboo - Chapter II, 1913)
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 (The Ego and the Id, 1923)
A religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it.
Sigmund Freud (Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 1920-1921)
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 (The Future of an Illusion - Chapter 3, 1927)
Contemplation of the corpse of the person loved gave birth not only to the theory of the soul, the belief in immortality, and implanted the deep roots of the human sense of guilt, but it also created the first ethical laws.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - Our Attitude Towards Death, 1918)
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 (Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, 1905)
Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.
Sigmund Freud (Quoted in Sigmund Freud: A Short Biography, 1965)
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 (The Future of an Illusion, 1927)
Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.
Sigmund Freud (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899)
Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. 
Sigmund Freud
I will cure all the incurable nervous cases and through you I shall be healthy.
Sigmund Freud (Letter to his wife Martha Bernays, 1885)
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 (New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1932)
What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.
Sigmund Freud (Letter to Ernest Jones, 1933)
The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.
Sigmund Freud (The Interpretation of Dreams - Chapter 7, 1899)
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
Psychoanalysis is in essence a cure through love.
Sigmund Freud (Letter to Carl Jung, 1906)
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.
Sigmund Freud
Civilization began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock.
Variant: The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.
Sigmund Freud (Moses and Monotheism, 1938)
We are certainly getting ahead; if I am Moses, then you are Joshua and will take possession of the promised land of psychiatry, which I shall only be able to glimpse from afar.
Sigmund Freud (Letter to Carl Jung, 1909)
War strips off the later deposits of civilization and allows the primitive man in us to reappear. It forces us again to be heroes who cannot believe in their own death, it stamps all strangers as enemies whose death we ought to cause or wish; it counsels us to rise above the death of those whom we love. But war cannot be abolished; as long as the conditions of existence among races are so varied and the repulsions between them are so vehement, there will have to be wars. The question then arises whether we shall be the ones to yield and adapt ourselves to it. Shall we not admit that in our civilized attitude towards death we have again lived psychologically beyond our means? Shall we not turn around and avow the truth? Were it not better to give death the place to which it is entitled both in reality and in our thoughts and to reveal a little more of our unconscious attitude towards death which up to now we have so carefully suppressed? This may not appear a very high achievement and in some respects rather a step backwards, a kind of regression, but at least it has the advantage of taking the truth into account a little more and of making life more bearable again. To bear life remains, after all, the first duty of the living. The illusion becomes worthless if it disturbs us in this.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - Our Attitude Towards Death, 1918)
A man should not strive to eliminate his complexes but to get into accord with them: they are legitimately what directs his conduct in the world.
Sigmund Freud (Quoted in Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, 1974)
Devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion, 1927)
Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.
Sigmund Freud (Letter to Wilhelm Fliess, 1897)
Being in love with the one parent and hating the other are among the essential constituents of the stock of physical impulses which is formed at that time and which is of such importance in determining the symptoms of the later neurosis... This discovery is confirmed by a legend that has come down to us from classical antiquity... What I have in mind is the legend of King Oedipus.
Sigmund Freud (The Interpretation of Dreams - Chapter 5, 1899)
Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1929)
Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men's actions.
Sigmund Freud
Man could no longer keep death away from him, for he had tasted of it in his grief for the deceased, but he did not want to acknowledge it, since he could not imagine himself dead. He therefore formed a compromise and concealed his own death but denied it the significance of destroying life, a distinction for which the death of his enemies had given him no motive. He invented spirits during his contemplation of the corpse of the person he loved, and his consciousness of guilt over the gratification which mingled with his grief brought it about that these first created spirits were transformed into evil demons who were to be feared. The changes wrought by death suggested to him to divide the individual into body and soul, at first several souls, and in this way his train of thought paralleled the disintegration process inaugurated by death. The continued remembrance of the dead became the basis of the assumption of other forms of existence and gave him the idea of a future life after apparent death.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - Our Attitude Towards Death, 1918)
It is easy to see that the ego is that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.
Sigmund Freud (The Ego and the Id, 1923)
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 (The Problem of Anxiety, 1925)
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 (Letter to Marie Bonaparte)
Conscience is the internal perception of the rejection of a particular wish operating within us.
Sigmund Freud (Totem and Taboo, 1913)
How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.
Sigmund Freud (Letter to his fiancée Martha Bernays, 1882)
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 (The Future of an Illusion - Chapter 6, 1927)
We are so made, that we can only derive intense enjoyment from a contrast, and only very little from a state of things.
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents - Chapter 2, 1929)
It is really too sad that it may happen in life as in chess, where a false move can force us to lose the game, but with this difference, that we cannot begin a return match.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - Our Attitude Towards Death, 1918)
Men are strong so long as they represent a strong idea,they become powerless when they oppose it.
Sigmund Freud (Quoted in Sigmund Freud: His Life and Mind, 1992)
Everyone of us owes nature his death and must be prepared to pay his debt, in short, that death was natural, undeniable, and inevitable. In practice we were accustomed to act as if matters were quite different. We have shown an unmistakable tendency to put death aside, to eliminate it from life. We attempted to hush it up, in fact, we have the proverb: to think of something as of death. Of course we meant our own death. We cannot, indeed, imagine our own death; whenever we try to do so we find that we survive ourselves as spectators. The school of psychoanalysis could thus assert that at bottom no one believes in his own death, which amounts to saying: in the unconscious every one of us is convinced of his immortality.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - Our Attitude Towards Death, 1918)
When inspiration does not come to me, I go halfway to meet it.
Sigmund Freud
Intolerance of groups is often, strangely enough, exhibited more strongly against small differences than against fundamental ones.
Sigmund Freud (Moses and Monotheism, 1938)
Religious doctrines… are all illusions, they do not admit of proof, and no one can be compelled to consider them as true or to believe in them.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion - Chapter 6, 1927)
In our unconscious we daily and hourly do away with all those who stand in our way, all those who have insulted or harmed us. The expression: “The devil take him,” which so frequently crosses our lips in the form of an ill-humored jest, but by which we really intend to say, “Death take him,” is a serious and forceful death wish in our unconscious. Indeed our unconscious murders even for trifles... Thus, if we are to be judged by our unconscious wishes, we ourselves are nothing but a band of murderers, just like primitive man. It is lucky that all wishes do not possess the power which people of primitive times attributed to them. For in the cross fire of mutual maledictions mankind would have perished long ago, not excepting the best and wisest of men as well as the most beautiful and charming women.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - Our Attitude Towards Death, 1918)
In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion - Chapter 6, 1927)
A belligerent state permits itself every such misdeed, every such act of violence, as would disgrace the individual.
Sigmund Freud (Quoted in Sigmund Freud and His Impact on the Modern World)
The commandment, 'Love thy neighbour as thyself', is the strongest defence against human aggressiveness and an excellent example of the unpsychological [expectations] of the cultural super-ego. The commandment is impossible to fulfil; 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 defence 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.
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1929)
Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.
Sigmund Freud (New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1932)
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 (Civilization and Its Discontents - Chapter 1, 1929)
Life becomes impoverished and loses its interest when life itself, the highest stake in the game of living, must not be risked.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - Our Attitude Towards Death, 1918)
We are never so defenceless against suffering as when we love, never soforlornly unhappy as when we have lost our love-object or its love.
Sigmund Freud (Quoted in The Major Works of Sigmund Freud, 1990)
A sadist is always at the same time a masochist.
Sigmund Freud (Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, 1905)
At bottom God is nothing more than an exalted father.
Sigmund Freud (Totem and Taboo - Chapter 4, 1913)
America is a mistake, a giant mistake.
Sigmund Freud
It is indeed a mystery why the individual members of nations should disdain, hate, and abhor each other at all, even in times of peace. I do not know why it is. It seems as if all the moral achievements of the individual were obliterated in the case of a large number of people, not to mention millions, until only the most primitive, oldest, and most brutal psychic inhibitions remained.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - The Disappointments of War, 1918)
Not all men are worthy of love.
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1929)
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 (The Future of an Illusion, 1927)
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.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - The Disappointments of War, 1918)
One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be "happy" is not included in the plan of "Creation."
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1929)
We find a place for what we lose. Although we know that after such a loss the acute stage of mourning will subside, we also know that we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else.
Sigmund Freud
Immorality, no less than morality, has at all times found support in religion.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion - Chapter 7, 1927)
In the depths of my heart I can’t help being convinced that my dear fellow-men, with a few exceptions, are worthless.
Sigmund Freud (Talk with Lou Andreas-Salome, 1929)
Analogies prove nothing, that is quite true, but they can make one feel more at home.
Sigmund Freud (New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis - Chapter 31, 1932)
A child in its greed for love does not enjoy having to share the affection of its parents with its brothers and sisters; and it notices that the whole of their affection is lavished upon it once more whenever it arouses their anxiety by falling ill. It has now discovered a means of enticing out its parents' love and will make use of that means as soon as it has the necessary psychical material at its disposal for producing an illness.
Sigmund Freud (Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, 1905)
A love that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value, by doing an injustice to its object; and secondly, not all men are worthy of love.
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1929)
Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.
Sigmund Freud
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.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion, 1927)
Wars cannot cease as long as nations live under such varied conditions, as long as they place such different values upon the individual life, and as long as the animosities which divide them represent such powerful psychic forces.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - The Disappointments of War, 1918)
There is a psychological technique which makes it possible to interpret dreams, and ... if that procedure is employed, every dream reveals itself as a psychical structure which has a meaning and which can be inserted at an assignable point in the mental activities of waking life.
Sigmund Freud (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899)
The ego is not the master in its own house.
Sigmund Freud (A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis, 1917)
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 (Letter to a mother's plea to cure her son's homosexuality, 1935)
The psychic development of the individual is a short repetition of the course of development of the race.
Sigmund Freud (Leonardo da Vinci, 1916)
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.
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1929)
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 (Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, 1905)
I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1929)
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.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion - Chapter 8, 1927)
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.
Sigmund Freud (New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1932)
One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.
Sigmund Freud (Quoted in the Letters of Sigmund Freud, 1975)
A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror.
Sigmund Freud (Dichtung und Wahrheit - On his relationship with his mother, 1917)
Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.
Sigmund Freud
Thus I must contradict you when you go on to argue that men are completely unable to do without the consolation of the religious illusion, that without it they could not bear the troubles of life and the cruelties of reality. That is true, certainly, of the men into whom you have instilled the sweet -- or bitter-sweet -- poison from childhood onwards. But what of the other men, who have been sensibly brought up? Perhaps those who do not suffer from the neurosis will need no intoxicant to deaden it. They will, it is true, find themselves in a difficult situation. They will have to admit to themselves the full extent of their helplessness and their insignificance in the machinery of the universe; they can no longer be the centre of creation, no longer the object of tender care on the part of a beneficent Providence. They will be in the same position as a child who has left the parental house where he was so warm and comfortable. But surely infantilism is destined to be surmounted. Men cannot remain children for ever; they must in the end go out into 'hostile life'. We may call this 'education to reality. Need I confess to you that the whole purpose of my book is to point out the necessity for this forward step?
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion, 1927)
The virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man does in actual life.
Sigmund Freud (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899)
The first request of civilization ... is that of justice.
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1929)
The deepest character of man consists of impulses of an elemental kind which are similar in all human beings, the aim of which is the gratification of certain primitive needs. These impulses are in themselves neither good or evil. 
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - The Disappointments of War, 1918)
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 (Dream Psychology, 1920)
Our unconscious therefore does not believe in its own death; it acts as though it were immortal. What we call our unconscious, those deepest layers in our psyche which consist of impulses, recognizes no negative or any form of denial and resolves all contradictions, so that it does not acknowledge its own death, to which we can give only a negative content. The idea of death finds absolutely no acceptance in our impulses.
Sigmund Freud (Reflections on War and Death - Our Attitude Towards Death, 1918)
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.
Sigmund Freud (A Childhood Reflection, 1917)
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 (Civilization and Its Discontents - Chapter 1, 1929)
Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis.
Sigmund Freud (The Future of an Illusion - Chapter 10, 1927)
Innately, children seem to have little true realistic anxiety. They will run along the brink of water, climb on the window sill, play with sharp objects and with fire, in short, do everything that is bound to damage them and to worry those in charge of them, that is wholly the result of education; for they cannot be allowed to make the instructive experiences themselves.
Sigmund Freud
The goal of all life is death.
Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud Biography

Born: May 6, 1856
Died: September 23, 1939

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist. He is most commonly recognized as the founder of the psychological theory Psychoanalysis.

Notable Works

The Interpretation of Dreams (1899)
Dora: A Case of Hysteria
Totem and Taboo
Leonardo da Vinci
Introduction to Psychoanalysis
Reflections on War and Death
The Ego and the Id (1923)
The Future of an Illusion (1927)
Civilizations and Its Discontents (1929)
Moses and Monotheism (1933)