Study Guide

Sigmund Freud Biography

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Basic Information


Sigismund Schlomo Freud


The Father and Founder of Psychoanalysis; Golden Siggie (That one came from Mum); Czar of the Cigar


Male, which is to say possessor of the phallus, of which I know you dames are violently covetous.

Home town

The Moravian town of Příbor in the Austrian empire, which is now part of the Czech Republic. Dad's business went into the toilet (not literally!), so we had to shuffle off to Leipzig, then Vienna.

But let me just say that far more important than my hometown was my homelife, because I was Mom's undeniable little pet (and she had eight children, so there was some stiff competition). As you may already know, moms in general are a big deal to me—and my own mother, well, let's just say I really, really, really, really loved her. I think she's the reason I'm so ridiculously awesome.

Work & Education


If you don't know that I'm a psychoanalyst, well you have a lot to learn about Ol 'Siggie. My career began in a psychiatric clinic (not as a patient!). But I had an urge—got to pay attention to those—to establish a private practice specializing in "nervous disorders." That's where I really took off. I used some—shall we say "unorthodox"—methods in my practice, such as hypnosis, but basically my method came to be known as the "talking cure."

I've developed too many methods, strategies, tools, theories, and cleverisms over the course of my formidable and controversial career to even count, and I've even studied my own dreams and childhood memories. (Conclusion: seeing Mum naked turned me on, and that was awkward). I've worked with many a variety of followers, held discussion groups, and had a ton of different colleagues help me build up a worldwide psychoanalytic movement. In other words, I dominate.


I've been an inquisitive whippersnapper from the beginning—not a "normal" fellow (whatever that means). My idol growing up was the English military chief and anti-royalist Oliver Cromwell, but I also had a "thing" for the Carthaginian general Hannibal, a genius of a military commander and—bet you didn't know this—a Semitic leader (I was Jewish). So let's just say I didn't have your average role models, like athletes and celebrities.

Poverty was a real hindrance in the Austrian Empire, and in my own family. But being the golden child, I had my parents to indulge my every whim when it came to education. I was a big aficionado of Friedrich Nietzsche, but over the years I've lost a little of the love for his philosophy.

I attended a renowned high school, picked up German, French, Italian, English, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. I was also a huge fan of Shakespeare's plays, but I try not to channel Polonius in my therapy sessions by saying such trite things as "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" or "To thine own self be true." Though I am partial to "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't."


Political views

I'm not a political guy, but it's hard to ignore politics completely, what with Nazis on the loose and occupying Vienna. Going into exile to London was my only option—it wasn't a political statement.

Other than that daunting move, my political expressions are pretty much limited to a strong dislike of the American president Woodrow Wilson, and an idea that Bolshevism (a.k.a. communism) is generally a terrible idea. I would love to plop some of my era's crazy dictators (Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin) down on the Therapy Couch. But alas, that's not to be.

Religious views

Life in a Jewish family was and is a big deal for me, and I've spilled a lot of ink trying to get to the bottom of religious legends and beliefs, including the ones I grew up with. (For more, you should definitely peruse Totem and Taboo, The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and Its Discontents, and Moses and Monotheism.)

Anti-Semitism was on the rise when I was growing up, and several ugly little incidents have shaped my thoughts on religion. For example, when a gentile "bumped" Dad's hat into the gutter, bellowing, "Jew, get off the pavement!", Dad just acted like a ninny and didn't put up his dukes. Formative moment alert! I felt ashamed when that happened, because who doesn't want a brave, heroic dad?

Then, when the Nazis took over, I had to get the heck outta Vienna, so I went to England, bringing my smarty-pants daughter Anna along with me, to avoid persecution for my religious heritage. Those Nazis burned my books, but as I told a pal, "What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burnt me; nowadays they are content with burning my books" (source).

If I'm being honest, I think religion is a construct people fall back on to deal with their neuroses—especially those pesky Oedipus Complexes—and to find meaning in this crazy, mixed-up world. Full disclosure: I also draw an analogy between religion and childhood neurosis, dubbing it an "illusion."

I, for one, am an atheist, but there's no denying that religion has played a huge role in our culture, especially during the rise of the Nazis. Maybe I can best explain myself by quoting what I wrote in 1925: "My language is German. My culture, my attainments are German. I considered myself German intellectually, until I noticed the growth of anti-Semitic prejudice in Germany and German Austria. Since that time, I prefer to call myself a Jew" (source).

Activities & Interests


W.H. Auden
Masturbation—as a subject, of course
Friedrich Nietzsche
Oedipal fantasies


Book burnings
Cardiac Irregularities
The Occult
So-called "Normal People"
Religious Illusion


Hanging with my disciples
Peeling back the proverbial onion
Smoking cigars
Talking, ad nauseum
Studying two-and-a-half year-olds.
Sexual problems
Sorting people out
Applying psychoanalysis to literature
Defending myself against feminists
Admiring my collection of totems


The Oedipalists
Wednesday Psychological Society (Psychologischen Mittwoch-Gesellschaft), later renamed the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.
The Viennese Cigar Club
International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA)
Royal Society
Physicians in Support of the Use of Cocaine
Physicians for the Extended Treatment of Anxiety (PETA)
Neurotics Undergoing Trained Attention (NUTS)
Supporters of the Unconscious Mind, or Oops, Did I Say that?
Psychoanalysts Who Love Comedy

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...