Freud was born in Freiburg, Moravia, which is today part of Czechoslovakia, but was at that time within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father, Jacob Freud (1815-1896) was a successful wool merchant. At the time of Sigmund's birth, Jacob was 40 years old, with two grown-up sons, and even grandchildren. Sigmund's mother was his father's second wife, and she was 20 years his junior.
In 1860, the Freud family moved from the provinces up to the capital city of Vienna. There, the young Freud began to develop the almost inevitable Jewish characteristic – fear of "anti-Semitism". He adopted as his boyhood heroes Hannibal (whom he imagined to be a Semitic hero who fought against the era's traditional "anti-Semites" the Roman) and Oliver Cromwell (whom he identified with the emancipation movement).
In passing, it may be noted with some irony that both Sigmund Freud and Adolf Hitler lived in Vienna around the same time. It is open to speculation whether or not they had a (sub-conscious) influence on each other. Hitler maintains in Mein Kampf that he never entertained an anti-Semitic thought in his head until he encountered these people, and experienced their behavior patterns, when he moved to the "big city".
At that time, Vienna was a hot bed of pro and anti-Semitic feelings.The Hapsburg monarchy and the city administration under Karl Luger were all alleged to be "anti-Semitic". And, of course, all the radical movements of the left, such as the Social Democrats under Victor Adler, were dominated by Jews.
It was in this tense environment that Freud enrolled at the University of Vienna in 1873, where it took him three years longer than normal to complete his medical studies. He moved on to the Vienna General Hospital, where he acted as assistant to several Austrian neuropathologists.
From 1884 onwards, he began to experiment with cocaine, using it on himself and on his fiancee Martha Bernays (1861-1951). He called cocaine his "magic carpet" and thrust it on all and sundry, including his sisters, friends, patients, colleagues – everyone. He told his fiancee it made him a "big wild man" and it would "make her strong and give her cheeks a red color". Later commentators would express doubts about this habit. Martin L. Gross, author of The Psychological Society writes:
"No one has yet evaluated the hallucinatory effects of cocaine on Freud's mind during the formative years of psychoanalysis. Without cocaine, could Freud have created such improbable flights of human fancy?"
By 1886, cases of cocaine addiction were being reported from all over Austria. Freud's friend Ernst von Fleischl-Marxov (1846-1891) had become a despairing addict after Freud had prescribed cocaine as medicine for a painful hand tumor. There is no doubt that the addiction brought about this early death.
Freud then left for Paris, to study under the French neurologist Jean Martin Charcot. Charcot was interested in the study of hysteria, which at that time was thought to be an affliction caused by an irritation of the womb (hence its name). Charcot felt that hypnotism was the answer to such personality dysfunctions.
The modern commentator on Freud's work Henry F. Ellenberger, has recently shown in The Discovery of the Unconscious that many of Freud's "original" ideas were in fact lifted from his tutors and colleagues. This idea of hypnotizing patients would appear to be one of them.
Another of Freud's plagiarized ideas was that of his colleague Josef Brewer (1842-1925). Brewer felt that the answer to female hysteria was catharsis: the patient would be healed by talking to her calmly and helping her "talk through" her hallucinations and fears. Freud and Brewer collaborated on a book Studies in Hysteria which was published in 1895, which described the treatment in detail. One of the most important cases described in the book was that of "Anna O." who later turned out to be Bertha Pappenheim, and who went on to become a prominent social worker and proponent, of women's liberation in Austria. Ms. Pappenheim suffered from sexual hallucinations, and it may well be that it was this particular case which led Freud to develop his next theory – and only semi-original one – of Psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy was a potpourri of techniques lifted from previous colleagues, laced with a heavy dose of sexual fixations, most of them of an exclusively Jewish nature. Originally, Freud would have his patient lie down on a couch, and ask them leading questions, in order to discover the root cause of their anxieties. Later, he would allow them have "free flow" of ideas, without interruption from him. Soon, Freud began to figure that most of his patients' problems were sexual in nature.
This discovery did not go over too well with the medical establishment in Vienna; the only one to take him seriously initially was one Wilhelm Fliess, a Berlin nose-and-throat specialist. Fliess had some rather peculiar ideas himself, including the notion that sexual dysfunctions were caused by "disturbances in the mucous membranes of the nose"! Freud twice allowed Fliess to operate on his nose for "nasal infections" but it is not known whether or not either doctor had diagnosed a sexual disorder. There is some evidence that Freud and Fliess had a homosexual relationship.
Freud continued to be plagued by bad health: migraine, nightmares, heart trouble and eventually – mouth cancer. He began to interpret his dreams, and when he experienced one where two bird-men laid his mother on the bed, he figured that this represented his boyhood desire to kill his father and have sex with his mother. Another analyst may have interpreted it as having too much cheese and pickles before going to bed, but Freud insisted that such dream symbolisms were "typical", and labelled the phenomenon the "Oedipus Complex" after the famous Greek fable.
Eventually, Freud patched together his dream analysis into a full fledged theory, which was published as The Interpretation of Dreams. His theory was that dreams are always "wishful thinking" – even though the "wishes" might be subconscious, and might manifest themselves in the dream in quite different symbol form. Most "wishful thinking" he argued, was sexual in nature.
In this book – which would later become Freud's best known work – the author alluded to a dysfunction from which he himself suffered: a phenomenon he called his "Rome neurosis". It seems that for many years Freud had been unable to visit Rome, even though he had been to Italy many times. Somehow he just could not bring himself to go there. In his book he described how he often dreamed of conquering Rome, just like his hero Hannibal had tried to do. He offered the following explanation:
"To my youthful mind, Hannibal and Rome symbolized the conflict between the tenacity of Jewry and the organization of the Catholic church ... Thus the wish to go to Rome had become in my dream life a cloak and symbol for a number of other passionate wishes. Their realization was to be pursued with all the perseverance and single mindedness of the Carthaginian."
In his startlingly candid article "Group Fantasies and Jewish Radicalism" published in the Fall 1978 issue of The Journal of Psychohistory, Stanley Rothman suggests:
"There is little question but that a good deal of the impetus for the discovery of psychoanalysis came from Freud's general hostility toward Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism."
He argues that Freud's hatred and fear of Christianity prevented him from visiting Rome, and that he only managed to overcome this fear after the "triumphal" publication of the Dreams book.
Freud next turned his attention to human sexuality, with the 1905 publication of Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. He argued that humans go through different stages of sexual development. First, the oral stage where infants derive pleasure from suckling at their mother's breast. Next comes the anal stage, where pleasure focuses on bowel movements. Third is the phallic stage, when the erogenous zone switches to the genitals. At the age of 5 or 6, children enter into the age of their Oedipus complex, when they lust for their mother and seek to destroy their father, the love rival. Freud's first "diagnosis" of this complex was with a 5 year old boy in 1909. He felt that the boy was afraid of horses (penis symbols) because he really feared his father. He feared the horses would bite him and bite off his own little penis (fear of castration by his father). Unfortunately, Freud could not come up with a female counterpart to this argument, and in 1933 he wrote "What I've had to say about femininity doesn't always sound friendly. It is incomplete. If you want to know more, look at your own experience of life ..."
The first years of the twentieth century brought followers into Freud's sphere of influence. Although mostly Jewish, there were one or two Gentiles such as C. G. Jung who became involved with the Psychoanalytic Movement, and attended the first International Congress at Salzburg in April 1908. Jung accompanied Freud on a speaking tour of America in the following year, and soon the Freudian movement became international. But within a couple of years, there were many splits in the movement, leading to Jung and others setting up their own school of analytic theory. According to one commentator:
"It is sometimes said that these splits were caused by Freud's tyrannical and dogmatic personality. But as Freud told his biographer Ernest Jones 'It's not my personality but my ideas about sexuality and the unconscious they don't like!'"
Freud had originally brought Jung into the movement as a kind of "token Goy". Freud told his colleague Karl Abraham that "too many of us are Jews. I don't want Psychoanalysis to become a Jewish national affair." Jung may originally have had a homosexual crush on Freud. He wrote Freud:
"My veneration for you is something like a 'religious crush'. Though it does not really bother me, I still feel it is disgusting and ridiculous because of its undeniable erotic undertone. This abominable feeling comes from the fact that as a boy I was the victim of a sexual assault by a man I once worshipped." – Jung to Freud 28 October 1907.
Freud replied patronizingly on 15 November 1907: "I shall do my best to show that I am unfit to be an object of worship." But privately, Freud predicted that Jung's idolizing of him would end in rebellion. Sure enough, when Jung went alone on a speaking tour of America in 1912, he criticized some of Freud's fundamental ideas. Freud interpreted this "independence" as a resistance to the unconscious and a wish to destroy the father (image). When Jung returned to Europe, Freud tried to patch things up, but ended up in a faint. Matters only grew worse, and Freud began to accuse Jung of encouraging all the splits in the movement.
Freud's new book Totem and Taboo (1913) only exacerbated their differences. In this work, Freud argued that sexual customs were based in primitive society's behavior patterns, and not on biological instinct. Where the primitive patterns came from he didn't say.
His therapy practice developed over these years, and he gradually evolved different rules of approach. He determined that neurosis could only be cured by encouraging its transference into something more immediate. The treatment of the "second" neurosis would automatically bring about the cure of the underlying neuroses. The only exceptions, he said, were those neuroses which were narcissistic, and therefore psychotic and untreatable. Even severe depression is narcissistic, he argued, because it is a form of hatred against others which becomes misdirected against oneself, on account of the social taboo on open displays of hatred against "loved ones".
Eventually, Freud concluded that "the aim of all life is death" – an aim to arrive at a condition that is totally devoid of all tensions, stresses and strains. It was around this time that two of his daughters died, and he himself suffered a severe operation of the jaw, resulting in his upper palate being artificially replaced.
Shortly afterwards, the National Socialist regime took over in Germany (1933) and in Austria (1938). Freud's books were declared heretical, and were publicly burned. The Freud family emigrated to London, where Freud died a few days after World War Two broke out.
With more than 40 years between Freud's death and the present, at last there are signs that his erstwhile "infallible" status is being challenged. No longer are his theories accepted without challenge, and some bolder psychoanalysts are now actually turning the tables, and applying analysis to Freud's own life and career. According to Dr. Harold M. Voth, a psychiatrist at the Menninger Foundation, and himself a Freudian analyst:
"I think that Sigmund Freud had sexual conflicts within himself which he did not resolve. His belief in constitutional bisexuality, for example, was an excuse for certain personal traits. I believe analysts are brilliant and dedicated people, but analysis tends to attract those with a personality similar to Freud's – passive men and aggressive women."
The widely-published author Martin L. Gross writes:
"Dr. Voth is convinced that Freud displayed 'a considerable degree of femininity' in his personality, a trait that has colored the entire profession by making what he calls the 'neurotically troubled' Dr. Freud a model...
"Those driving needs have infiltrated the psyche of millions of individuals as well, remaking much of our personalities in his image. By offering his catalog of foibles as the symbols of normality, Freud achieved immortality. He has successfully projected his personality and his style of thought onto much of humanity, especially the impressionable American psyche. We have all – some wittingly, others unwittingly – become the children of Sigmund...
"Although the impact of Freud's personality has been broad, it has not generally been beneficent. The portrait that emerges is one of a man driven by the furies of hostility and envy, weighed down by depression, death wishes, phobias and severe debilitating neuroses. He was professionally distorted by his extreme superstitiousness and gullibility – the antithesis of a man of science. Freud the man is more the unhappy philosopher than the intrepid researcher who society thought would unlock the key to our confused behavior.
"The failure of psychotherapy is now obvious. What is less apparent is how closely that failure is tied to the personal short-comings of the prophet himself. As a theoretician and scientist, Sigmund Freud was impulsive. His work was tainted by an unmistakable style of excessive enthusiasm which often led to inaccuracy. He was an adroit, even brilliant, theory maker, but his wish to have something true overrode all objections.
"Freud was a self-confessed impetuous thinker, a 'conquistador' of the mind, he called himself. The result was that both his career and the disciplines of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis which he spawned are lavishly strewn with errors which Freud presented to the world with absolute confidence, even arrogance."
In a candid and insightful chapter "The Shadow of Dr. Freud" Dr. Gross goes on to show how Freud's theories were all extrapolations of his own personal hang-ups:
"The Oedipal love triangle is a prime example of how Freud's personality has distorted psychology and psychiatry. During his self-analysis, Freud learnt that he felt passion for his mother and jealousy against his father. As an adult, he had a recurring thought in which he visualized his 'beautiful and slim' mother, Amalie. Judging from his belief in the trauma of the primal scene (seeing one's parents during intercourse) Freud as a boy must have watched his attractive mother having sex. What might have been overlooked by a less driven child seemed to dominate Freud.
"Freud obviously experienced Oedipal lust, a disturbance which non-Freudians, such as child psychiatrist Dr. Stellar Chess of New York University, believe affects only a small number of children. He then suffered the delusion that his abnormality was normal and universal...
"Freud's relationship with his mother was a long and satisfying one, the quintessence of the heralded Jewish mother-son love. She lived to be 95, dying when Freud was 74. Freud hinted repeatedly of the power of her love, stating more than once that 'if a man has been his mother's undisputed darling he retains throughout his life the triumphant feeling, the confidence in success, which seldom brings actual success with it.'
"Freud was Amalie's favorite – 'Mein goldener Sigi' she called him. 'The only thing that brings a mother undiluted satisfaction is her relationship to her son; it is quite the most complete relationship between human beings,' he wrote. Freud added a metaphysical sex idea: for the mother, he said, 'the little boy brings the longed-for penis with him.' "
Freud exhibited latent homosexual characteristics, as he himself admitted to his intimate friend Dr. Wilhelm Fliess. And when Freud's biographer Ernest Jones first met him in 1908, he observed, "I dimly sensed some slight feminine aspect in his manner and movements." Modern critics suggest that present-day Freudians are influenced by Freud's "feminine, passive feelings" so much that they "regard masculine assertiveness and aggression as a neurotic manifestation. They tend to project their own conflicts and values about this onto their patients. As a result, much harm may be done to the patient and others in the patient's life."
By a curious coincidence, both Freud and Fliess underwent identical surgical operations within weeks of each other – removal of a furuncle on the scrotum. Freud viewed the coincidence as "a secret biological sympathy".
The men had similar personalities, and according to Gross, were "intrigued with the metaphysical, the magical, the mystical". When Fliess came up with his theory which posited a connection between the mucous membranes of the nose and the female genitals, Freud went along with it, and even allowed Fliess operate on his own nose. Fliess's theory of "periodicity" was grounded in astrology and numerology .
Freud's neurotic dysfunctions manifested themselves in unusual behavior patterns and in psychosomatic ailments – particularly those affecting the mouth, the genitals and the anus. At the age of 7 he walked into his parents' bedroom and deliberately urinated on the floor. He fainted often. He suffered lifelong indigestion, often with constipation in an irritable spastic colon. He suffered phobias about riding in trains, about death and about visiting Rome. More often than not, he was chronically depressed, and bad-tempered.
His fear of death obsessed him, and he would spend much time with Fliess figuring out when he would die, using his friend's numerology theories. He often recounted the death of his younger brother Julius, who had died in childhood.
He was unable to separate his emotions. As Gross describes:
"Hostility was penned up inside this almost shy, somewhat feminine man, like a caged feline. His was an angry soul which hated even when it loved, a trait which he has passed down to us as ambivalence. 'We know that with Freud intense love and hate were specially apt to go hand in hand,' comments Jones. His distorted love-hate emotions first made a victim of Brewer, then Fliess, then Jung, Adler, Stekel, and anyone else who initially advanced, then stood in the way of, his grand design for immortality...
"He perpetually read unconscious hostility into his cases, including that of Dora, the Wolf Man and the Rat Man. He did this even over the reasonable objections of his patients, who said they felt no such hostilities. The Rat Man complained that he could not have wanted his father's death, for he loved him and feared losing him. Fred countered with one of the convoluted semantic twists that at once made his ideas invincible. The fear of death is actually a wish, he said. Every one of man's fears corresponds to a former unconscious wish, he told his now guilty patient...
"Max Schur traced Freud's superstitious fear of death to his (own) harboring of such death wishes, first against others, then against himself. It was aggression turned inward, as analysts say. 'In terms of wishes, his superstition meant that because he wanted Fliess, Fleischl, his father, his brother Julius, his sister Anna, and anyone else he hated, to die, he would die,' his physician suggested. Freud's death-wish neurosis became so strong he falsely believed that man had a death instinct, Thanatos, that was normal and universal."
Modern Freudians follow in the footsteps of their prophet. Despite Freud's attempts to prevent Psychoanalysis becoming the exclusive preserve of Jews, Dr. Gross tells us that these days there is "a strong representation of Jewish patients, a tendency possibly related to the large number of Jewish analysts, a tradition begun by Freud and his disciples.
"In the Maryland study, 40% of the patients were Jewish; 33% Protestant; 13% Catholic; and 12% without affiliation. An American Psychoanalytic Association study generally confirms these figures. They report 45.2% Jewish patients; 43.6% Protestant and 10.1% Catholic...
"The psychoanalytic community is even more geographically clustered than are the general psychiatrists. The two major analytic capitals are almost 3000 miles apart: Manhattan and Los Angeles."
Psychoanalysis is so much grounded in metropolitan Jewish life that Gross reports 11 central states which do not have a single psychoanalyst. One Manhattan office building houses more psychoanalysts than 7 states combined. The profession is so dominated by Jews that Yiddish words and Jewish expressions are used as part of the jargon. The American Psychoanalytic Association is known as the "kosher" school of analytic therapy, we are told. Curing a patient is commonly called bringing him to be a "mensch".
In the area of payment, modern analysts follow Freud's true and tested method:
"Freud ingeniously tied the fee to results. If the fee is very low, he warned, the value of the treatment will be denigrated in the patient's eyes. Free treatment is an analytic disaster, he insisted. Without the 'corrective influence' of money, the patient is supposedly deprived of a 'useful incentive to exert himself to bring the cure to an end'.
"Only in a few areas does the modern analysis so slavishly follow Freud. The bill for the month's analysis (some $1000 at $50 an hour) is not mailed. It is presented, eyeball-to-psyche, to the patient at the end of the month. If payment is not forthcoming in time, there is an automatic reminder in the next bill. The next step is medicine's most effective collection system: the analyst injects the unpaid bill into the analytic work to find the unconscious reason for the resistance."
Resistance is one of Psychoanalysis's most useful shibboleths. It features in one professional joke about a patient's punctuality. If the patient comes early he is displaying anxiety. If he comes late he is offering resistance. If he regularly comes on time, he is compulsive.
Whatever a patient does, there is always something wrong with him. How reminiscent this supposedly witty anecdote is of Sigmund Freud's attitudes. No matter what his patients said or did he would immediately project onto them his own neuroses.
Could it possibly be that the psychoanalytic industry is cast in the same mold? Could it be that psychiatry amounts to no more than Jews telling the rest of us that we suffer from Jewish neuroses?