Sigmund Freud

 

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May 6, 1856 – Sep 23, 1939

Physician, Psychiatrist

Austrian

“Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.”

“If youth knew; if age could.”

Freud was known for his love of cigars. He usually smoked about 20 a day. Even jaw cancer, which required numerous painful surgeries, couldn’t stop him from enjoying his cigars.

Freud was a bright student and became a doctor. He was fascinated with the mind and decided to specialize in neurology. Freud discovered the part of the mind called the unconscious (a place where we have forgotten ideas, images and feelings). He suggested the unconscious plays a crucial role in shaping one’s behavior. He taught of the importance of raising small digits in an emotionally nourishing environment and that dreams and past experiences were key to unlocking who we are. He came up with a strategy, which is used today, to treat patients who were mentally ill: patients would simply talk about whatever was on their minds. He called this free association and suggested it would help in discovering why patients behaved strangely or irrationally. Up to that time, doctors were looking for the answers to mental problems in things they could see through a microscope (blood, cells, etc.), and Freud’s ideas of the unseen were at first ignored or strongly criticized. He did not seek fame or money. In fact, along with working at the hospital, he also wrote journal articles, took on private patients and taught, but his finances were not steady or reliable. He also experienced difficulties in his personal life with the stoppage of close family members, phobias, depression, a painful mouth cancer and being Jewish during Hitler’s reign. Despite all of these challenges, Freud continued his work because he knew it was important, and, before the end of his life, he had worldwide fame and influence. His work became the foundation for modern day psychiatry.