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Birthday special: Some interesting facts and quotes to decode Dr Sigmund Freud

On his birth anniversary, here are some lesser known facts, some interesting quotes and list of important dates from Dr Sigmund Freud's life

Dr. Sigmund Freud's radical ideas on the workings of the human mind transformed psychology and remain controversial to this day -- especially his theories on psychosexual development. He is renowned for his theories on the unconscious and the neurologist is known as the father of modern psychoanalysis. On his birth anniversary, here are some lesser known facts about the Viennese psychoanalyst.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939, C), Austrian psychiatrist and founder of psychoanalysis and his daughter Anna (1895-1982, L) pose for the photographer in front of their London house in the 1930's (other are unidentified).Sigmund Freud (1856-1939, C), Austrian psychiatrist and founder of psychoanalysis and his daughter Anna (1895-1982, L) pose in front of their London house in the 1930's. Pic/AFP

- His chain-smoking of cigars led to 34 cancer surgeries.

- The Freudian slip is named after Dr Sigmund Freud, who, in his 1901 book 'The Psychopathology of Everyday Life', described and analyzed a large number of seemingly trivial, bizarre, or nonsensical errors and slips, most notably the Signorelli parapraxis. Freud, himself, referred to these slips as Fehlleistungen (meaning "faulty actions", "faulty functions" or "misperformances" in German); the Greek term parapraxes (plural of "parapraxis" meaning "another action" in English) was the creation of his English translator. {Freudian slip means an unintentional error regarded as revealing subconscious feelings}

- Freud once thought cocaine was a miracle drug and even wrote about the drug’s therapeutic benefits in an 1884 paper “On Coca,” which he called ”a song of praise to this magical substance.”

- In 925, he turned down $100,000 from a Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn to write or consult on a film script about "the great love stories of history".

His iconic book 'The Interpretation of Dreams' was initially a commercial failure. It was the book Freud considered his "most significant work" when he published it in 1899, but the first six years saw only 351 copies sold. The second edition was not published until 1909.

- His famous couch was a "thank you" gift from a grateful patient named Madame Benvenisti.

The Nazis burned his books in 1933 and drove him from Austria. After Germany annexed Austria, the Nazis raided his apartment, and the Gestapo detained and interrogated his daughter, Anna. With the assistance of his friend and patient, Princess Marie Bonaparte, a reluctant Freud fled to Paris and then London with his wife and Anna.

- Four of his sisters died in Nazi concentration camps.

- Dr Freud studied the sex lives of eels at the University of Vienna while studying zoology.

- Thieves attempted to steal his and his wife -- Martha -- ashes, which were placed in an ancient Greek urn stored at London’s Golders Green Crematorium. The thieves failed, but severely damaged the 2,300-year-old urn. 

- Freud was a polyglot with a knowledge of German, Italian, Greek, English, Spanish, Hebrew and Latin.

- Freud had once written that he was always his mother Amalia's favorite, her "golden Siggie".

- His daughter Anna Freud also became a famous psychoanalyst and is credited with the development of the defense mechanisms and child psychoanalysis.

- Freud's greatest contribution to psychoanalysis is the development of the technique known as talk therapy. He was one of the first to suggest that psychological problems could be treated and relieved by simply talking about them.

Here are some interesting quotes from Freud's writings.

"No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed."
From Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905)

"The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is 'What does a woman want?'"
From Sigmund Freud: Life and Work by Ernest Jones

"Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires."
From New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1932)

"Where id is, there shall ego be."
From New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1932)

"One might compare the relation of the ego to the id with that between a rider and his horse. The horse provides the locomotor energy, and the rider has the prerogative of determining the goal and of guiding the movements of his powerful mount towards it. But all too often in the relations between the ego and the id we find a picture of the less ideal situation in which the rider is obliged to guide his horse in the direction in which it itself wants to go."
From New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1932)

"Devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one."
From The Future of an Illusion (1927)

"The ego is not master in its own house."
From A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis (1917)

"Our knowledge of the historical worth of certain religious doctrines increases our respect for them, but does not invalidate our proposal that they should cease to be put forward as the reasons for the precepts of civilization. On the contrary! Those historical residues have helped us to view religious teachings, as it were, as neurotic relics, and we may now argue that the time has probably come, as it does in an analytic treatment, for replacing the effects of repression by the results of the rational operation of the intellect."
From The Future of an Illusion, (1927)

"One feels inclined to say that the intention that man should be 'happy' is not included in the plan of 'Creation.'"
From Civilization and Its Discontents, (1930)

"The poor ego has a still harder time of it; it has to serve three harsh masters, and it has to do its best to reconcile the claims and demands of all three...The three tyrants are the external world, the superego, and the id."
From New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, (1932)

"Thinking is an experimental dealing with small quantities of energy, just as a general moves miniature figures over a map before setting his troops in action."
From New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, (1932)

His books were among those burned by the Nazis in 1933, which caused him to quip: “What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burnt me; nowadays they are content with burning my books.” 

Important Dates In Sigmund Freud's Life

1856 – (May 6) Freud is born in Freiberg, Moravia, now part of the Czech Republic, to parents Jacob and Amalia. His birth name was Sigismund Schlomo Freud, but he changed his name to Sigmund in 1878 at the age of 22.

1873 – Graduated summa cum laude from secondary school and began studying medicine at the University of Vienna.

1878 – Changed his first name from Sigismund to Sigmund.

1881 – Received his doctorate degree in medicine.

1884 – Published a monograph, a detailed study, on cocaine.

1886 – Began private practice and married Martha Bernays.

1887 – Daughter Mathilda (1887-1978) was born and he first met Wilhelm Fliess.

1889 – Son Jean Martin (1889-1967) was born.

1891 – Son Oliver (1891-1969) was born.

1893 – Began formulating his seduction theory. Daughter Sophie (1893-1920) was born.

1895 – Published studies on Hysteria with Breuer. Daughter Anna Freud (1895-1982) was born.

1896 – First used the term psychoanalysis in "Zur Ätiologie der Hysterie." His father, Jakob, died the same year.

1900 – Published The Interpretation of Dreams.

1901 – Published The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.

1905 – Published Three Essays on Sexuality.

1906 – Began correspondence with Carl Jung.

1908 – The first International Psychoanalytical Congress was held in Salzburg.

1909 – Freud made his first and only visit to the United States along with Carl Jung and Sandor Ferenczi.

1913 – Freud's book Totem and Taboo was published.

1920 – Published Beyond the Pleasure Principle, which introduced his concept of the death instinct.

1923 – Published The Ego and the Id and was diagnosed with jaw cancer.

1929 – Civilization and its Discontents was published.

1933 – Corresponded with Albert Einstein. The Nazis publicly burned some of Freud's books because he was Jewish.

1938 – Youngest daughter Anna Freud was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo, so Freud moved to London with his wife and Anna to escape the Nazis.

1939 – Freud died on September 23 of cancer in London.

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