Sigmund Freud:Biography

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Biography Early years

Sigmund Schlomo Freud was born on May 6, 1856, in a small town in Freiberg, Moravia, located in what is now the Czech Republic. Freud's father Jacob was 40 when Freud was born, 20 years older than Freud's mother Amalie. The patriarch of a large family, Freud's father had already been married twice, with two grown boys from his first marriage that were now older than Amalie. The dynamics of his extended family left their impression on Freud in his first years of life. In 1860 the family settled in Vienna where Sigmund, as he came to call himself, received an education emphasizing classical literature and philosophy. Little did he know that this education would eventually serve him well in developing his theories and conveying them to a wide audience.

Sigmund was the first child of Jacob and Amalie Freud. About a year and a half after Sigmund's birth another son, Julius, was born. Years later, Freud recounted memories of being extremely jealous of Julius after his arrival and admitted to having a secret wish that he could somehow rid himself of this other child who monopolized his mother's love and attention. A number of critics have proposed that Freud's early jealously of Julius played significantly in the development of his later theories on sibling rivalry. Tragically, Julius died less than a year later, on April 15, 1858. Freud later admitted that his childhood wish to be rid of his brother caused him lingering guilt throughout his life.

In December of the same year that Julius died, another child was born: Anna, the Freuds' first daughter. During the next six years, five more children, four girls and one boy, would round out the Freud family. Despite the many children his parents were responsible for, Sigmund was aware that he was the favored child.

Almost all of the details of Freud's early years stem from his own recollections. Most of the events were recounted and recorded during his pivotal time of self-analysis, following the death of his father. His self-analysis was also described in letters he had written to his colleague Wilhelm Fliess, which have since been published.

Jacob and Amalie Freud had both been raised as Orthodox Jews, but they gave their children a relatively nonreligious upbringing. At an early age, Sigmund began to distance himself from any hint of formal religion. As an adult he was firmly atheistic and at times, antagonistic regarding religion. He associated religion with superstition and was uncompromisingly committed to science as a means of measuring the cause and effect of behavior. But though he rejected formal religion, he did not reject his Jewish roots. In fact, he was proud of his Jewish identity and did not attempt to hide his Jewish heritage, though his relationship to it was purely secular.

Freud's early schooling, like that of his siblings, took place at home under his mother's direction. His father, Jacob, contributed to his education as Freud grew older. At the age of nine Freud passed the examination that allowed him to enter the Sperl Gymnasium, a German equivalent of a combined grammar and high school, with a strong emphasis on Latin and Greek. He also learned French and English and in his spare time taught himself the rudiments of Spanish and Italian. He had a keen interest in science at a young age that may have been sparked by a copy of History of Animal Life awarded as a school prize when he was eleven. He would frequently bring home plant and flower specimens collected during solitary walks in the nearby woods.

Despite comments in his later years that suggested his childhood was an unhappy one, he seemed to enjoy the Gymnasium. Freud, always very serious and studious, was first in his class for seven years until he graduated at age 17. His parents recognized his exceptional intellect at an early age and strongly encouraged him to pursue a scholarly career. In their quest to see him succeed, they showed obvious favoritism by giving him his own room and the privilege of using a gas light instead of candles to accomplish his schoolwork. From this point forward, Freud's singular focus was on scholarship.

In 1873, at the early age of 17, Freud entered the University of Vienna as a medical student. He had briefly considered a career in law, but found the allure of science too compelling to ignore. Although he was content to be engaged in work that might benefit humanity through working as a physician, research and the search for knowledge held a deep fascination for him. University years

It took Freud eight years—an unusually long time—before he finally received his medical degree in 1881. Reports from friends who knew him during that time, as well as information from Freud's own letters, suggest that he was less diligent about his medical studies than he might have been. He focused instead on scientific research. In the spring of 1876 he obtained a coveted grant to perform research at a nearby research center maintained by Vienna University. Although it wasn't necessarily the most compelling subject—studying the sexual organs of eels—Freud was nonetheless enthused by the prospect of engaging in a long-held dream to conduct research. Freud performed his assigned task satisfactorily, but without brilliant results. In 1877, disappointed at his results and perhaps less than thrilled at the prospect of dissecting more eels, Freud moved to the laboratory of Ernst Brücke, the man who was to become his first and most important role model in science.

Freud's move to Brücke's laboratory was one he never regretted. Brücke was a celebrated physiologist teaching at the University of Vienna and was regarded by Freud as the greatest authority he had ever met. According to his own account, he spent some of his happiest years in Brücke's lab. As a physiologist, Brücke was concerned with the function of particular cells and organs, not just with their structure. Brücke's work thus focused on the attempt to discover basic physical laws that governed the processes that took place in living systems.

In Brücke's laboratory, Freud worked on the anatomy of the brain and other tissues. His most important project was determining whether a certain kind of nerve cell in frogs was the same kind found in humans. In other words, did the brain cells in humans reflect a commonality with those found in "lower animals?" This project had relevance to an ongoing debate that had been sparked by Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species, published some 20 years earlier. Freud's work in Brücke's laboratory showed that the human and frog spinal neurons cells were of the same type. So, in a small way, Freud furthered Darwin's theory by showing that humans were genetically and historically linked to other animals. Throughout his life, Freud viewed Darwin's work as the precursor for many of his own discoveries in the development of psychoanalysis.

It was also in Brücke's laboratory that Freud first met Josef Breuer, the doctor whom Freud would later claim "brought psychoanalysis into being." Breuer was fourteen years older than Freud and had built a thriving private practice in Vienna by the time of their meeting. It was Breuer who first realized that symptoms of hysteria completely disappeared when the patient recalled and relived past emotional circumstances brought forth from the unconscious. Much of Breuer's insight along these lines was gleaned from his clinical work with a young hysterical woman he worked with named Anna O. According to Freud, these insights were the birth of what he later called catharsis. Freud and Breuer's professional collaboration also developed into a friendship that was nurtured by their mutual interest in music, painting, and literature and lasted for over 15 years. Principal Publications

   * The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. 24 vols. Edited by J. Strachey with Anna Freud. London: 1953–1964.
   * Standard Edition Vol. I. Pre-Psycho-Analytic Publications and Unpublished Drafts. 1886–1899.
   * Standard Edition Vol. II. Studies in Hysteria. With Josef Breuer. 1893–95.
   * Standard Edition Vol. III. Early Psycho-Analytic Publications. 1893–99
   * Standard Edition Vol. IV. The Interpretation of Dreams (I). 1900.
   * Standard Edition Vol. V. The Interpretation of Dreams (II) and On Dreams. 1900–01.
   * Standard Edition Vol. VI. The Psychopatholgoy of Everyday Life. 1901.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XII. Case History of Schreber, Papers on Technique, and Other Works. 1911–13.
   * Standard Edition Vol. VIII. Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious. 1905.
   * Standard Edition Vol. IX. Jensen's 'Gradiva,' and Other Works. 1906–09.
   * Standard Edition Vol. X. The Cases of 'Little Hans' and the 'Rat Man.' 1909.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XI. Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, Leonardo, and Other Works. 1910.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XII. Case History of Schreber, Papers on Technique, and Other Works. 1911–13.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XIII. Totem and Taboo and Other Works. 1913–14.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XIV. On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works. 1914–16.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XV. Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (Parts I and II). 1915–16.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XVI. Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (Part III). 1916–17.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XVII. An Infantile Neurosis and Other Works. 1917–19.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XVIII. Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Group Psychology and Other Works. 1920–22.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XIX. The Ego and the Id and Other Works. 1923–25.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XX. An Autobiographical Study, Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, Lay Analysis, and Other Works. 1925–26.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XXI. The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and its Discontents and Other Works. 1927–31.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XXII. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis and Other Works. 1932–36.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XXIII. Moses and Monotheism, An Outline of Psycho-Analysis and Other Works. 1937–39.
   * Standard Edition Vol. XXIV. Indexes and Bibliographies. Compiled by Angela Richards, 1974. London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1953–74.

In 1875, early in Freud's university career, he took his first of three trips to England. There, he visited his half-brother Emmanuel and his family in Manchester. Freud adored the English language and culture, and greatly enjoyed his visit. He returned only twice more during his lifetime. His second trip in General Hospital in Vienna, Austria, where Freud spent most of his career. (Copyright Austrian Archives/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.) General Hospital in Vienna, Austria, where Freud spent most of his career. (Copyright Austrian Archives/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.) 1908 was also to visit his brother in Manchester. His final trip in 1938, 63 years after his first visit, occurred when the Nazi takeover of Austria in World War II forced him to flee Vienna.

Amid the years Freud worked in Brücke's laboratory, there was an unwelcome interruption to his research. In 1879 and 1880, he was forced to take a year away from his research to fulfill compulsory military service. This obligation meant that he was to be "on duty" as a doctor to attend to sick or injured soldiers as the need arose. Though he found the military service tedious due to long stretches of idle time, he struck up a relationship with a German publisher who commissioned him to translate four essays from John Stuart Mill's collected works. This allowed Freud to at least partially exercise his intellect during this hiatus from the work with Brücke.

On his return from military service to university life, Freud decided at last to sit for his medical degree. Despite an earnest desire to help people, he had previously shown no particular enthusiasm for a doctor's life. By this time he had probed into several areas of medical research without committing himself to any one field. And from evidence that has survived, it appears that his aim was not so much to make his mark in some chosen area as much as turn an opportunity into a profitable venture. He didn't doubt that he had a mission in life, but at this point he wasn't what it was.

It wasn't until the summer of 1882 that he left Brücke's laboratory, at Brücke's suggestion, to take a post at Vienna's General Hospital. While laboratory research was stimulating to Freud, he was always on the verge of poverty. Had he not been living at home during these years, it would have been very difficult for him to have supported himself on the meager wages he earned. His motivation for earning more money was not simply to build a financial reserve for its own sake, he began thinking about the possibility of marrying. Marriage and family

In 1881 Freud made the acquaintance of Martha Bernays, the sister of one of Freud's university friends. Martha was slim and self-assured, with long dark hair and a narrow face. It seems to have been love at first sight. Martha was five years his junior and only two months after their first meeting they were secretly engaged. But both were too poor to marry and continued a long-distance relationship for another five years before marrying.

With no real prospect of ever earning a livelihood from his scientific work and desperate to marry Martha, Freud made a painful decision. Just six months after he met her, Freud sacrificed his scientific ambitions for the woman he loved: he decided to become a doctor. At Brücke's suggestion, Freud left laboratory work and spent the next three years at Vienna General Hospital, trying his hand at surgery, internal medicine, and psychiatry, not knowing which might become his specialty.

During their engagement Freud rarely saw Martha. By some estimates, they spent four and a half of those five years apart. She had moved with her family to Hamburg in northern Germany, far from Vienna. He continued working by day, and at night he read incessantly. He also wrote long, romantic letters to Martha every day.

Martha was Freud's first love, and he conveyed a passion for her that was reciprocated by her for him. However, money became increasingly important as he contemplated how to support a partner and the children that would follow after their marriage. Seeking financial support from Freud's father was out of the question. His father had been out of work for some time and was barely supporting his own family. In fact, Freud increasingly felt the burden of needing to help support his parents and sisters in addition to his own family as time passed.

On September 14, 1886, after five years of waiting, 30-year old Sigmund Freud married Martha Bernays. And even though Freud had been trying to save money after leaving laboratory work to pay for the marriage, their celebration was largely funded by generous friends.

They quickly settled into married life by setting up a home, and soon after began a family. Freud and Martha went on to have six children over the next nine years: Mathilde, Jean Martin, Oliver, Ernst, Sophie, and finally Anna. Anna would be the only child to follow in her father's work. Martha quickly became the kind of wife for whom Freud had hoped. She raised their children and managed their household while Freud attended to his medical practice and researched his theories.

Martha also had her own convictions that emerged as their children grew and the theory of psychoanalysis took shape, however. Martha had been raised in a religious family; her grandfather had been chief rabbi of Hamsburg, Germany. Her religious upbringing formed in her a steadfast commitment to her faith that she did not relinquish. Of course, this turned out to be a lifelong point of contention in her marriage with Freud, whose atheistic orientation undoubtedly created distance between them. In addition, Martha disagreed with a number of aspects of psychoanalysis as the theory emerged. What those disagreements were in detail is not precisely known.

It was known to Freud, Martha, and others, however, that their relationship was slowly disintegrating. As Freud delved deeper into his research and explored the mysteries of behavior that still eluded him, the passion once evident in his relationship with Martha faded. Although he remained married to Martha throughout his life, his work became his mistress.

Only one question has been raised regarding Freud's faithfulness to his wife. It concerns his sister-in-law Minna, who originally came in 1895 to live with them for several months, but ended up staying for the rest of her life. Freud had stated at one point that it was Minna Bernays along with his long-time friend Wilhelm Fliess who sustained his faith in himself when he was developing psychoanalysis in the face of much opposition. Freud occasionally went on summer holidays with his sister-in-law while Martha joined them later. Some observers found it difficult to believe that their relationship was entirely platonic.

After 10 years of marriage, Freud had firmly established himself as the patriarch of his own large family. His exhaustive work to find a cure for hysteria, however, had not brought him the fame, success, and happiness he longed for. Fears of poverty from his childhood resurfaced to haunt him. Early days as a neurologist

In the spring of 1886, in a small office in the heart of Vienna, Freud began to practice medicine. His specialty was neurology and involved treating patients with both physical and so-called "nervous disorders." The majority of his work though focused on the causes and treatment for hysteria. Conventional treatment at the time consisted of measured electric shock and hypnosis, both of which Freud used in the early years of his practice.

But Freud eventually abandoned both of these treatments. He found hypnosis, despite its increasing popularity, to be of little help in working with neurotic disorders. He began experimenting with a number of methods to elicit the retrieval of memories from the unconscious. Eventually he hit upon a technique that seemed to work. He simply asked his patients to begin talking freely, verbally following their thoughts in any direction they were inclined to go. He called this technique "free association," and it eventually became the cornerstone of his treatment for hysteria. Further Analysis


The application of hypnosis to the treatment of emotional disturbances was introduced by Franz Anton Mesmer, a Viennese physician who was part scientist, part showman. Mesmer believed that the human body contained a magnetic force that operated like the magnets used by physicists. This magnetism was capable of penetrating objects and acting on them from a distance. Mesmer also believed that magnetism could cure nervous disorders by restoring equilibrium between a patient's magnetic levels and the levels present in the environment. Not surprisingly, Vienna's medical community considered him a quack. Yet, Mesmer became very successful in Paris and attracted quite a following. That is, until an investigative commission reported unfavorably on his so-called "cures," and he fled to Switzerland. But, despite this, the practice of using magnetism to cure, which eventually came to be known as mesmerism, spread to many other geographic areas including England and the United States.

Hypnosis gained more legitimacy and professional recognition in medical circles with the work of French physician Jean Martin Charcot, head of a neurological clinic in Paris for insane women. Charcot had some success treating hysterical patients by using hypnosis. More important, he described the symptoms of hysteria and the use of hypnosis in medical terminology, making them more acceptable to the French Academy of Science. But Charcot's work was primarily neurological, emphasizing physical disturbances such as paralysis.

One of Charcot's students, Pierre Janet, took hypnosis one step further. He was a strong proponent of viewing hysteria as a mental disorder caused by memory impairment and unconscious forces. He chose hypnosis as his preferred method of treatment. Thus, during the early years of Freud's career, the medical establishment was paying increasing attention to hypnosis and the psychological causes of mental illness.

Most of Freud's patients at this time were young, middle-class, Jewish women who suffered from a host of "neurological" symptoms such as paralysis, partial blindness, hallucinations, and loss of motor control; these symptoms, however, appeared to have no real neurological cause. For most of the 1880s and well into the 1890s, Freud treated these kinds of patients with a combination of massage, rest therapy, and hypnosis.

Freud was thus eager to find a more effective technique, and his partnership with Breuer was about to provide him with one. About this time, Freud visited France and was impressed by the therapeutic potential of hypnosis for neurotic disorders. On his return to Vienna he used hypnosis to help his neurotic patients recall disturbing events that they had apparently forgotten. Soon thereafter, however, he became disillusioned with hypnosis because he was not obtaining the results for which he had hoped.

The case of Anna O. that Breuer conducted, and to which Freud was privy through innumerable conversations with Breuer, was the beginning of what Breuer called "the talking cure," a conversational style of interaction that seemed capable of unlocking material in the unconscious.

As Freud began to develop his system of psychoanalysis, theoretical considerations, as well as the difficulty he encountered in hypnotizing some patients, led him to eventually discard hypnosis in favor of what he would later call free association. Free association was characterized by spontaneous disclosure of thoughts and emotion as it would arise without censorship.

It was this new technique of talking through the patient's hidden memories that would become the center of Freud's technique. Freud believed that the hidden, or "repressed," memories that lay behind hysterical symptoms were always of a sexual nature. Breuer did not hold with this belief, which led to a split between the two men soon after the publication of the studies.

Despite Freud's influential adoption and then rejection of hypnosis, some use was made of the technique in the psychoanalytic treatment of soldiers with combat neuroses during World Wars I and II. Hypnosis subsequently acquired various other limited uses in medicine. Various researchers have put forth differing theories of what hypnosis is and how it could be understood, but there is currently still no generally accepted explanatory theory for the phenomenon.

MYTHS ABOUT HYPNOSIS Myth Scientific response (Courtesy Thomson Gale.) Hypnosis places the subject in someone else's control. Magicians and other entertainers use the illusion of power to control their subjects' behavior. In reality, people who act silly or respond to instructions to do foolish things do so because they want to. The hypnotist creates a setting where the subject will follow suggestions—but the subject must be willing to cooperate. A subject can become "stuck" in a trance. Subjects can come out of a hypnotic state any time they wish. The subject has control of the process of hypnosis, with the hypnotist simply guiding him or her. The hypnotist can plant a suggestion in the subject's mind—even for something to be done in the future. It is impossible for anyone to be implanted with suggestions to do anything against his or her will. Hypnosis may be used to improve accuracy of the subject's memory. Memories recovered under hypnosis are no more reliable than others.

Freud considered everything a patient said to be important—even their dreams. Though other physicians of the day discounted dreams, Freud examined their role in the unconscious mind and eventually interpreted the meaning of dreams. These and other techniques enabled Freud to create the theory of psychoanalysis bit by bit, layer upon layer. Research on cocaine

One of Freud's most promising areas of research, which he conducted on his own time, had to do with a drug that had only recently been made available in Europe—cocaine. Although the effects of the coca plant had been known for quite some time, it was only in the 1880s that refined cocaine—the active ingredient in the coca leaf—became widely available in Europe. Freud was one of the first researchers to study the effects of cocaine on the mind and body. He used himself as the prime subject. The results of his earliest experiments—mostly subjective reports on how cocaine affected his own mood, wakefulness, and somatic symptoms—were published in July of 1884 in a paper called "Über Coca" ("On Coca"). His general assessment of the drug was that it might be useful not only in treating low mood but also in treating morphine addiction.

What Freud failed to emphasize sufficiently, however, was the anesthetic effect of cocaine on mucous membranes such as the nose and mouth. A colleague of his, Dr. Carl Koller, performed experiments that showed it could also be used to anesthetize the eye for the purposes of eye surgery. Since there was no other effective way to do this at the time, Kohler's discovery was a major one, and Freud deeply regretted not making the discovery himself.

After this disappointment, Freud continued his research with cocaine, eventually publishing two more papers. The first one was slightly more subdued in its praise than "Über Coca" had been, and the third one was even more skeptical. Freud frequently used cocaine himself to deal with minor aches and pains, and he recommended it enthusiastically to friends and acquaintances, even going as far as sending it to his fiancé, Martha Bernays, for her own use.

His enthusiasm for cocaine was sharply curtailed, however, by an ugly incident in 1885 in which he tried to treat a friend's morphine addiction by giving him cocaine. The friend, Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, who had been one of Brücke's assistants while Freud was working in the same laboratory, abruptly gave up his morphine addiction and replaced it with a voracious appetite for cocaine. The incessant use of cocaine contributed to Fleischl-Marxow's death in 1891. The episode affected Freud deeply and soured him permanently on cocaine. Nonetheless, it appears from his correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess, a nose and throat specialist from Berlin and Freud's best friend and confidant during the 1890s, that Freud used cocaine occasionally, and sometimes heavily, through the mid-90s. After that time, however, he seems to have stopped using it entirely. Self-analysis

The years between 1896, when Freud's father died, and 1899, when The Interpretation of Dreams was completed and published, were some of the most difficult but productive years of Freud's life. During this time, he formulated the basic techniques and theoretical framework of psychoanalysis. Aside from his patients, Freud's primary source of data was himself. He analyzed his dreams, his slips of the tongue, and the childhood memories he was able to dredge up from his unconscious. Freud called this process of interpreting himself his "self-analysis" and it proved to have a significant effect on his theories. Ongoing self-analysis was a routine that he more or less practiced the rest of his life. We know about this period only because of letters written to and saved by Marie Bonaparte, a princess of Greece and Denmark who was one of Freud's most loyal patients. She was also instrumental in his escape from Austria in 1938.

On October 23, 1896, after an illness of four months, Freud's father, 80-year-old Jacob Freud, died in Vienna. Freud was deeply shaken. Freud's feelings about his father's death were complex and confusing to him. He felt in some way he had distanced himself from his father in his pursuit of his mother's affections during childhood. In an effort to understand the nature of hysteria, he had wrongly imagined that his father had abused him and some of his siblings.

The suspicions about his father, he now realized, were no more than a figment of Freud's own imagination. It caused him a great deal of emotional consternation to admit this error. He wondered that his own mistake in assuming his father's alleged perversion might also mean that he had misinterpreted the many seduction stories heard by his patients. But years later, he would conclude that he had not done so, and that his practice simply had a disproportionate number of patients with seduction in their background. To the charge of "suggesting" to his patients that they might have been sexually traumatized, he both admitted to the possibility and also denied it at various times in his professional career. Through self-analysis, Freud was able to see the truth about his relationship with his parents. Freud came to realize that his father was innocent, and that as a boy he had wanted to marry his mother. He saw his father as a rival for her love. Freud interpreted his own wishes as that which is common to all young boys in all cultures. He called this newly discovered phenomenon the Oedipus complex, and it would Hypnosis being used on a woman in London in 1947. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images. Reproduced by permission.) Hypnosis being used on a woman in London in 1947. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images. Reproduced by permission.) become one of his most important ideas. He later formed a parallel concept he called the Electra complex that pertained to girls and their fathers, although he did not develop this concept as thoroughly as the Oedipus complex.

After his father's death, Freud began to work on a book based on the self-analysis of his own dreams. The Interpretation of Dreams was published in November 1899, with the title page dated 1900. During the next six years, the book sold only 351 copies. It took two decades before Freud achieved the fame he had always imagined. But The Interpretation of Dreams would be the book that would establish Freud as a seminal thinker in his time. The book eventually brought him more wealth and fame than his father could have imagined. In his latter years, Freud still viewed this book as his most important. Psychoanalysis taking shape

With the publication of The Interpretation of Dreams and another of Freud's books, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, his writings gained a much wider audience. This presented lecture opportunities and gained him a substantial following. It was at this time that Freud began hosting a weekly discussion group at his home on Wednesday evenings called the "Wednesday Psychological Society." After several years and a significant increase in membership, the group became formally known as the Viennese Psychological Society.

Among notable participants in the society were Carl G. Jung, Sandor Ferenczi, and Alfred Adler. Although membership in the society included many brilliant men, Freud considered himself the residing expert on all matters pertaining to psychoanalytic thought. He was not tolerant of disagreements, especially those that challenged core concepts of his theories. Such rigid expectations for adherence to his ideas inevitably caused sharp divisions among members. A number found aspects of Freud's theory to be weak or unhelpful as they employed the theories in their clinical practices. Others wanted to refine the ideas, but Freud would not waver from his own observations.

Sharp disagreements arose between Freud and key members of the Society in 1911. This was significant regarding Jung, because Jung had been Freud's intended heir to lead the Psychoanalytic Society to the next plateau. By 1914, however, the theoretical differences between Freud and several esteemed members had frayed to the breaking point. As a result, a number of leading members resigned from the society, including Adler and Jung. Freud was unforgiving in his separation from these and other resigning members and had little contact with them from that time onward.

The society resignations were quickly overshadowed by the beginning of the First World War in 1914, which was a major setback for the movement and its members. Freud was too old to fight, but his three sons, Martin, Oliver, and Ernst were all drafted. They eventually returned without loss of life or major injury.

Despite Freud's new position as a well-respected, if not world-famous, psychologist, the 1920s were not pleasant ones. Freud's daughter Sophie died of influenza in 1920. Her son, Heinz, who had been Freud's favorite grandchild, died of tuberculosis in June of 1923. Freud took the death of Heinz particularly hard. He seems to have invested much of his hope for the future in his grandson, and Heinz's death was a crushing blow. Josef Breuer, a man from whom Freud had been estranged for many years but whom he still respected, also died in June of 1925. During this decade, Freud also saw his close, inner circle of supporters, named the Committee, begin to unravel.

Also during this tumultuous period of time, Freud suffered from a personal illness. Freud had, for his entire adult life, been a vigorous and unrepentant cigar smoker. It is reported that he smoked an average of 20 cigars a day. As evidence of his habit, most photographs show him holding a cigar. In 1923, undoubtedly as a result of this habit, a cancerous growth appeared in his mouth on the inside of his right cheek. Drastic surgical measures were necessary to prevent the spread of the cancer. Surgery was performed in two separate sessions in the beginning of October of that year to remove Freud's upper right jaw and hard palate. For the next 16 years, until his death in 1938, Freud wore an uncomfortable prosthesis that resembled a large set of dentures. Talking and eating were difficult. Over the course of these 16 years, 33 different operations were performed to remove cancerous or pre-cancerous growths in Freud's mouth. Yet remarkably, he never stopped smoking. The final years

From 1930 to 1938, Freud continued to live and work in Vienna. The international psychoanalytic movement was now well established. Freud had become famous and most of the turbulence within the movement during the 1920s had calmed down. Yet, due to his increasingly poor health, Freud was slowly becoming less involved in the inner workings of the psychoanalytic movement. In fact, in the mid-1920s he stopped attending meetings of the International Psychoanalytic Association.

For the last 15 to 20 years of Freud's life, beginning from the time he was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 1923, his daughter, Anna, was his nurse and constant companion. In 1923 she became a member of the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society and remained an important figure in psychoanalysis after her father's death. She gradually took over increasing amounts of responsibility from her father as it pertained to his work in the Association. Anna Freud became best known for her work on defense mechanisms and the analysis of children.

The early 1930s represented a time of political unrest and the eventual outbreak of war in Europe. On March 12, 1938, Hitler's forces invaded Austria and quickly took over the country. Although he initially resisted, his need to leave the country became apparent after numerous threats. On March 13, the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society voted to dissolve and recommended that all of its members flee Austria and reconvene, if possible, wherever Freud took up residence. Over the next week, Freud's home was raided several times, and on March 22, his daughter Anna Freud was arrested and questioned by the Gestapo. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Although money and valuables were stolen from Freud's home, his private study was left untouched. The property of the psychoanalytic publishing house, on the other hand, which was located a few doors down from Freud's home and office, was confiscated in its entirety.

Freud moved to England on July 6, 1938, with his wife and daughter Anna. They settled into his last home, a house that Anna Freud kept until her death 40 years later. Surprisingly, Freud's joy at the pleasures of their new home, including freedom from Nazi persecution, was tempered by a surprising homesickness for Vienna. He had always claimed that he hated Vienna. Now that he was gone, however, he longed for the familiarity of the city.

This homesickness was no doubt accentuated by the need for another surgical procedure to treat his ongoing mouth cancer in September of that year. Since Freud's first operations for mouth cancer in 1923, numerous pre-cancerous growths had appeared and been removed. In 1936, however, a cancerous growth had reappeared. Now, in 1938, the cancer had returned once more. Removing it this time required a significant procedure that left Freud very weakened.

In February of 1939, despite the drastic surgery that had been performed only five months earlier, Freud's cancer returned. This time the doctors deemed the tumor inaccessible and inoperable. Freud would have to live with it until he died. Over the course of the next eight months, Freud grew increasingly weak, and the tumor increased in size. By September, it had eaten through to the outside of his cheek, creating a large, unpleasant open sore.

On September 21, Freud, in severe pain, asked his doctor to administer a dose of morphine large enough to ease him out of life. His doctor complied, giving him several large injections of morphine over the course of the next few days. Freud died near midnight on September 23, 1939. He was cremated three days later on September 26. Ernest Jones, who became his first and most authoritative biographer, gave the funeral oration.