Sigmund Freud - Biography and Other Biographical Studies

Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud - Chronology

Childhood, School Years 

1856 - 6 May: Sigismund Freud is born (to change his name to Sigmund at 22). According to custom, he is also given a Jewish name: Schlomo. His birthplace is Freiberg (nowadays Pribor) in Moravia (the Czech Republic). His father Jacob is 41 and has two children from a previous marriage: Emmanuel and Philippe. Sigismund's mother is 21 and this is her first born.

The Birth House of Sigmund Freud
The birth house of Sigmund Freud - Zamecnicka Ulice, 117 (click the picture to enlarge)
1859 - The economic crisis ruins Jacob's business. The family settles in Vienna, in Leopoldstadt, the Jewish neighborhood (February 1860).

1865 - Sigmund is admitted to the Gymnasium (secondary school) a year ahead his time.

1870 - He receives Ludwig Borne complete works; reading these books will influence him greatly.

1872 - He returns to Freiberg to spend his holidays.

1873 - He receives a summa cum laudae award on graduation from secondary school. He is congratulated on his style in German. He is already able to read in several languages. Under his colleague's Heinrich Braun influence, he plans to study law but finally decides in favor of medical school, after having attended a lecture on Goethe's essay On Nature. Start his studies at Vienna University.

1874 - While at university, he discovers anti-Jewish prejudices and declares his place is "with the opposition". Attends Brentano's lectures.

1875 - Travels to Manchester, Britain, to see Philippe and his niece Pauline.

1876 - His first personal research in Trieste, on sexual glands of anguilas. Joins Brucke's laboratory.

1877 - Publishes the result of his anatomical research on the central nervous system of a specific larva.

1878 - His research in Brucke's laboratory bring him to a step's distance from the discovery of the neuron (called as such by Waldeyer in 1891). Becomes a friend of Breuer, his 14 years senior, who provides him moral and material support.

1879 - Attends Meynert's courses in psychiatry. His sole interest is the neurological aspect of issues under debate.

1880 - A year of military service. Breuer provides treatment to Bertha Pappenheim (Anna O.). Freud translates 4 essays by Stuart Mills. He is not willing to dedicate himself to medical practice but rather to research or teaching. .

1881 - A delayed award of a doctor's degree in medicine.

1882 - Given the material difficulties he is undergoing, Freud cannot dedicate himself to a career in research. He meets Martha Bernays (of family of Jewish intellectuals) and intends to get married with her. In November, Breuer talks to him about the Anna O. case, which had been interrupted in June.

1883 - Joins Meynert's service in the Psychiatric Hospital.

1884 - Discovers the analgesic properties of cocaine. Carl Koller is the one publishing a successful study in that respect. Freud himself uses cocaine as a tonic but prescribes it to his friend Fleischl who was morphine addicted, thereby aggravating his situation. He is criticized in medical circles. He starts treating "nervous" disorders by means of electrotherapy and applies W. Erb's method. He at the same time devised a method for coloring neurologic preparations (for the microscope) and publishes an article in that respect as well as a monograph on coke.

1885 - Hold a temporary position in a private clinic where hypnosis is used. He destroys all his documents in April. He is appointed Privatdozent, then is awarded a grant for a study tour and chooses to go to Paris, to visit Charcot at the Salpetriere Hospital. He is able to observe the manifestations of hysteria and the effects of hypnosis and suggestion here. Charcot leaves him with special impression. Freud volunteers to translate his lectures.

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Picture of Freud's birth house published by kindly permission of Annette Fricke.

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