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April 25: Freud Opens His Practice

Lawrence Bush
April 25, 2010

Freud_1885On this date in 1886, Sigmund Freud opened up his first neurologist’s office in Vienna at 7 Rathausstrasse. He was thirty years old, and soon would marry Martha Bernays, the daughter of the chief rabbi of Hamburg. In his Vienna practice, Freud experimented with hypnosis, but abandoned it in favor of the “talking cure” (a term coined by “Anna O,” that is, Bertha Pappenheim, the Austrian Jewish feminist who was treated by Freud’s colleague Josef Breuer). Freud developed many of his fundamental psychological theories about repression, of the functioning of the unconscious, and the role of sexual desire in the human psyche, and more, based on his practice with patients on Rathausstrasse.
“[T]o my Jewish nature . . . I owed two characteristics that had become indispensable to me in the difficult course of my life. Because I was a Jew I found myself free from many prejudices that restricted others in the use of their intellect; and as a Jew I was prepared to join the Opposition and do without agreement from the ‘compact majority.’” —Sigmund Freud, 1926

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.