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Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis who launched a revolution in how human beings view their personalities, thoughts and emotions, died on this date in 1939, in exile in London from Nazi-ruled Austria. Freud spent nearly all of his life in Vienna, developing his theories during a time of acute anti-Jewish discrimination, which made it difficult for him to find platforms for his controversial ideas.
Between 1897 and 1917, therefore, Freud delivered twenty-seven lectures about psychoanalysis to the local B’nai B’rith lodge. “To my Jewish nature,” he wrote to them on the occasion of his 70th birthday, “I owed two characteristics … 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.’”
“Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me.” —Sigmund Freud
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.