Sigmund Freud and the Jewish Mystical Tradition

By David Bakan | Go to book overview

8
Freud's Relationship to Fliess and His Other Jewish Associates

Freud spent his whole life in a virtual ghetto, a world made up almost exclusively of Jews. Not, however, that there were no noteworthy exceptions as, for example, Brücke and Jung; and not that his non-Jewish associations were not important to him. Still, the essential part of his cultural experience was with the community of Jews.

Both of Freud's parents came from Galicia, a region whose atmosphere was saturated with Chassidism, a late and socially widespread form of Jewish mysticism. Freud says explicitly, in a letter to Roback, that his father came from a Chassidic milieu,1 and we know from a paper by Aron that Tysmenitz, the birthplace of Jakob Freud, Freud's father, was filled with Chassidic lore and learning. Aron also reports a conversation between Freud and Chaim Bloch in which they discussed Kabbala, Chassidism, and Judaism in general. Aron remarks, "What it was that moved Freud to interest himself in Kabbala and Chassidism is not hard to understand. He must have felt himself to be spiritually at home in these worlds."2

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