Friday, January 24, 2020
Sigmund Freud :: Psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud 1856 - 1939 Sigmund Freud was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1856, it was in the Czech Republic. His father was a small time merchant, and Freud's mother was his second wife. Freud had two half-brothers some 20 years older than himself. His family moved to Vienna when he was four years old, and though he often claimed he hated the city, he lived there until it was occupied by Germany in 1938. Freud's family background was Jewish, though his father was a freethinker and Freud himself an avowed atheist. Freud was a good student, and very ambitious. Medicine and law were the professions then open to Jewish men, and in 1873 he entered the University of Vienna medical school. He was interested in science above all; the idea of practicing medicine was slightly repugnant to him. He hoped to go into neurophysiological research, but pure research was hard to manage in those days unless you were independently wealthy. Freud was engaged and needed to be able to support a family before he could marry, and so he determined to go into private practice with a specialty in neurology. During his training he befriended Josef Breuer, another physician and physiologist. They often discussed medical cases together and one of Breuer's would have a lasting effect on Freud. Known as Anna O., this patient was a young woman suffering from what was then called hysteria. She had temporary paralysis, could not speak her native German but could speak French and English, couldn't drink water even when thirsty, and so on. Breuer discovered that if he hypnotized her, she would talk of things she did not remember in the conscious state, and afterwards her symptoms were relieved -- thus it was called "the talking cure." Freud went to Paris for further study under Jean-Martin Charcot, a neurologist known all over Europe for his studies of hysterics and use of hypnosis. In 1886, Freud returned to Vienna, opened a private practice specializing in nervous and brain disorders, and married. He tried hypnotism with his hysteric and neurotic patients, but gradually discarded the practice. He found he could get patients to talk just by putting them in a relaxing position (the couch) and encouraging them to say whatever came into their heads (free association). He could then analyze what they had remembered or expressed and determine what traumatic events in their past had caused their current suffering.