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Facts about Sigmund Freud

10 Facts about Sigmund Freud We Bet You Didn’t Know

December 15, 2016 10:00 am by

Think you know everything about the father of psychoanalysis? Here’s some little known facts about Sigmund Freud…

Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud qualified as a doctor of medicine in 1881 at the University of Vienna and continued his research and studies at his practice in the Austrian capital until his exile to London 57 years later. But what do you really know about this infamous man? Thanks to the Sigmund Freud Museum, we’ve discovered 10 interesting facts about the academic that we bet you didn’t know!

A Nazi helped Freud and his family escape, but he left his four sisters behind.
As a high profile Jewish man, Freud was under particular scrutiny once the Nazis occupied Vienna and his past was combed for criminal activity by a Nazi named Anton Sauerwald to extort money off him for the Reich. Sauerwald had a change of heart after meeting the man and reading his work, assisting him and his large family with their immigration to Britain. However, Freud left his four of his five sisters behind and after his friend Marie Bonaparte’s efforts to attain exit visas for them failed, they all died one by one in concentration camps.

Freud was a little too interested in cocaine and initially praised its medical benefits.
Like all greats, Freud had some hits and misses. After experimenting on himself with cocaine and becoming a habitual user, he became convinced it was a miracle therapy drug and wrote a number of papers on the subject, including one titled ‘On Coca’. After prescribing it to his close friend Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow to help him recover from his morphine addiction, one thing led to another and von Fleischl-Marxow became addicted to cocaine. It wasn’t soon after that Freud changed his mind about the whole thing, especially after news of other addicts and overdoses started to become more commonplace. (He continued using it for a little while afterwards, however.)

Freud suffered from cancer and had more than 30 surgeries.
As an avid cigar smoker, Freud would sometimes smoke up to twenty a day and it’s therefore no surprise he developed jaw cancer down the line. Beginning in 1923, it plagued him for the rest of his life and he eventually died in 1939. His death remains a controversial one to this day as it was a case of doctor-assisted suicide, with Freud giving his consent to a morphine overdose to end his life.

Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud, was a highly respected psychoanalyst.
Anna Freud began attending regular therapy sessions with her father once she turned 23, undoubtedly influencing her to follow his footsteps into the same field. She became a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute in 1923 and was highly interested in child psychology, continuing to pursue it for the rest of her life.

Freud was cremated and there was an attempted robbery of his urn.
After being cremated, Freud’s ashes were placed alongside his late wife’s in an ancient Greek urn – a gift from one of his patients – and displayed at his crematorium in London. In 2014 on New Year’s Eve, thieves broke into the crematorium and accidentally smashed the vessel while trying to steal it.

Facts about Sigmund Freud

Freud’s famous couch was a gift.
When conducting sessions, Freud would famously ask his patients to lie down on a couch covered in a Persian rug and sit out of their eyeline on another chair as he asked questions. It’s a stereotypical image of therapy that persists to this day, however the iconic couch that Freud used was actually a gift from Madame Benvenisti in 1890 – one of his clients. The original can still be viewed at the London Freud museum and a replica in Vienna’s Sigmund Freud Museum.

There are 153 boxes containing Freud’s letters and correspondence, some of which cannot ever be opened.
Housed at the US Library of Congress, 153 boxes containing Freud’s correspondence with his family, friends and patients are collecting dust. In his will, Freud stated that most of them could be opened and read, however there are nineteen that cannot be opened till 2020, 2050 and 2057. There are also eight which can never be opened.

Freud studied zoology and researched eels.
At the University of Vienna, Freud took courses in zoology and later worked for four weeks at a facility in Trieste to research the sexual organs of eels. He dissected hundreds of eels in search of eel testicles, but found nothing.

Freud was offered $100,000 to collaborate on a Hollywood film.
One of the stranger facts about Sigmund Freud, Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn saw how interested the public were in Freud’s work and offered him $100,000 to collaborate on a psychoanalytical retelling of Antony and Cleopatra. Freud turned him down, but fellow psychoanalysts Hanns Sachs and Karl Abraham took Goldwyn up on his offer much to Freud’s disdain.

An essay by German literary figure Goethe inspired Freud to pursue psychoanalysis.
Goethe’s poem ‘Hymn to Nature’ captured Freud’s attention, encouraging him to shift his law ambitions towards the medical field. In fact, Freud was so influenced by Goethe’s work (particularly Faust) that strains of his poetry and symbolism coloured his own scientific writing.

Feature image sourced via Sigmund Freud Museum facebook