Sigmund Freud: His Life and His Work

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Sigmund Freud was born on May 6th 1856 in Freiberg, Moravia, which is now in Czech Republic. He is the eldest of eight children born to Jacob and Amalie Freud. Because of the anti-semetic riots who were ragging in Freiberg , Freud's father, who was a wool merchant, lost his business and the whole family had to move to Leipzig (1859) and shortly after to Vienna where Freud spend most of his life. When he lived in Vienna, Freud had, once more, to come across anti-semetism : jewish people had been persecuted in Europe for hundreds of years and they would often be attacked on the streets or called names.

Freud was a very intelligent and hard working student, but when he left school, he was not sure of what he wanted to do. At first, he decided to become a lawyer. Then, he decided to study medicine and to become a doctor, for this reason, he enrolled in the medical school of the University of Vienna (1873) and he often came top of the class. To the eyes of Freud, working hard and wanting to find out about things were the two most important qualities in life. In his 3rd year at the University, he started a research work on the central nervous system in a phisiological laboratory under the direction of Ernst Wilhelm von Brucke. During this period of research , Freud neglected his courses and as a result, he remained in medical school 3 years longer than it was normally required to qualify a physician. He received his medical degree in 1881 .

He spend three years working at the General Hospital of Vienna - working successively to psychatry, dermatology and to nervous diseases -. In the year 1885, he is given a government grant enabling him to spent 19 weeks in Paris to work with French neurologist Jean Charcot - director of the mental hospital, The Salpetriere - who tried to understand and treat nervous disorders, and most especially hysteria. Charcot used hypnosis to prove that the real problem of his patients was a mental one. From this demonstration, Freud realised the power that the mind had on the body, and he came back from Paris, determined to make a name for himself in this new field of study. When he came back from Paris, Freud immediately married his sister's friend Martha Bernays. At first, the other doctors laughed at him and noboby baught his books. He was therefore very poor and in addition, he had a growing family to support. His only friend, Wilhelm Fliess, lived far away in Berlin. Freud called that time his "period of splendid isolation". Like many others at that time, the Freud family had to suffer many hardships, firstly during World War I, and then during the economic depression, when Austrian money became worthless. Often, Freud had to analyse people wearing his overcoat because he could not afford to heat the consulting room. Gradually, more and more people came to see Freud and with each patient he tried to learn something new about his work. He also tried to analyse himself !!! During the period from 1895 to 1900, Freud developed many of the concepts that were later incorporated into the psychoanalytic practice and doctrine (free association...) and he abandonned the use of hypnosis. After many years of existence, the increasing recognition of the psychoanalytic movement made possible the creation of a worldwide organisation called "The International psychoanalytic Assotiation" (1910).

In 1923, Freud was told he had a cancer of the jaw and that he only had a short time to live. The cancer was brought up by Freud's abussive smoking. He did not really care and he said that he was addicted to smoking like he was addicted to the collection of thousand of antiquities. But meanwhile, an even great threat was on the horizon, the anti-semetism, which civilized countries thought they had put behind them, was coming back in Germany. Hitler came to power in 1933 and in this same year, Freud's books were burned on the streets, along with other books written by jewish authors. When the...
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