10 Insights into Sigmund Freud’s Uncanny: Its Origins, Interpretations and Implications


In the boundless sphere of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, the originator of psychoanalysis, formulated a hypothesis that continues to fascinate and bewitch – the proposition of ‘The Uncanny’. This piece intends to offer an in-depth analysis of this profound hypothesis, delving into its inception, understanding, and implications in psychoanalytic theory and beyond.

Sigmund Freud’s Uncanny Explored

The term ‘Uncanny’, or ‘Das Unheimliche’ in German, was initially proposed by Freud in his 1919 essay. It denotes the disconcerting sensation when familiar entities or experiences suddenly seem bizarre or spooky. ‘The Uncanny’ essentially encapsulates the paradoxical experience of the known becoming unknown.

The Genesis and Comprehension of ‘The Uncanny’

Freud adopted the term ‘Unheimliche’ from aesthetics and literature, where it served to characterize a genre that fused reality and fantasy. However, Freud’s interpretation added a new dimension to it, associating it with suppressed thoughts and desires that, when surfaced, induce discomfort.

Sigmund Freud's Uncanny

Theoretical Framework of ‘The Uncanny’

Freud’s theory is anchored around the idea that the uncanny emerges from suppressed infantile complexes that have been reawakened by some impression. He conjectures that ‘the uncanny’ is an exposure of what is private and hidden, and hence ‘uncanny’.

The Influence of Suppression in ‘The Uncanny’

Freud suggests that suppression plays a pivotal role in evoking the uncanny. Our childhood apprehensions and fantasies, which we bury deep within our psyche, often resurface in enigmatic ways, inciting unease.

Doubles and the Uncanny

One of Freud’s most captivating examples of the uncanny is the concept of the double, or the doppelgänger. The phenomenon of encountering one’s twin has been a repeated motif in literature and folklore, symbolizing a disruption of our perception of identity and uniqueness.

Impacts of ‘The Uncanny’ on Psychoanalysis

Freud’s hypothesis of ‘the uncanny’ has had extensive impacts on psychoanalysis. It offers an insight into how suppressed emotions and experiences can resurface, leading to anxiety, terror, or discomfort.

Criticism of Freud’s Hypothesis of ‘The Uncanny’

While Freud’s hypothesis has been influential, it has also been scrutinized by numerous scholars. Some contend that his hypothesis is excessively concentrated on individual psychology and disregards socio-cultural factors that might contribute to sensations of the uncanny.


In conclusion, Freud’s hypothesis of ‘the uncanny’ presents an intriguing exploration into the human psyche. By scrutinizing the uncanny, we venture into the realm of suppressed emotions and fears that form the core of our anxieties and phobias. Despite its critiques, Freud’s hypothesis continues to shape our comprehension of human psychology, reminding us that beneath the surface of the known resides an uncanny reality waiting to be revealed. Learn more about this fascinating topic in our top 7 aspects of Sigmund Freud’s impact on art.

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