Freud: A Critical Re-Evaluation of His Theories

By Reuben D. Fine | Go to book overview

Chapter I.
HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS

Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg, in what is now Czechosslovakia, on May 6, 1856. The street on which he was born was later renamed Freudova Ulice in his honor. At the age of four he and his family moved to Vienna, where he remained until 1938 when the Nazi persecution forced him to flee to England, a year before his death.

Freud was the son of a poor Jewish merchant. To his Jewish background he himself attributed his ability to cling to an unpopular position in the face of enormous calumny.

Outwardly there is relatively little to relate about Freud's life. He was always a very bright student and from an early age seemed destined for an academic or intellectual career. He studied at the University of Vienna in the Faculty of Sciences and eventually did research under the famous physiologist, Brücke. Because the financial rewards for pure research were so limited that he was unable to support himself, he turned to medicine and took his M.D. degree in 1881.

For several years thereafter he served as a physician in various hospital departments. In 1885 he received a traveling grant to go to Paris for several months' study with the Frenchman, Jean Charcot, the most famous neurologist of his time.

In 1886 he set himself up in private practice as a neurologist in Vienna. That same year he married Martha Bernays, by whom he had six children. The youngest, Anna Freud, is today one of the world's leading figures in psychoanalysis.

In 1885 he was appointed Privatdocent (roughly Lecturer) in Neuropathology at the University of Vienna. Some twenty years later he was made a Professor extraordinarius (Associate Professor), and

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