Post­ed by Mark Steiner

Freud is the father of mod­ern psy­chol­o­gy. His pio­neer­ing work in psy­cho­analy­sis and the study of uncon­scious desires shaped the field for decades to come. A char­ac­ter as com­plex as his work, Freud has been stud­ied and ana­lyzed by dozens of writ­ers. In this list, inspired by some of the best books on the sub­ject, we take a look at the less­er-known parts of Freud’s his­to­ry and persona.

1. He was born as the first of eight children.

Sig­mund Freud was born in a rent­ed room above a locksmith’s home. His father was a wool mer­chant, and the fam­i­ly had fall­en on tough times. Things would even­tu­al­ly turn around for Freud when he left to study medicine. 

Freud’s birth­place and child­hood home

2.He spoke eight languages

Sig was no dum­my. He spoke well in Ger­man, Ital­ian, French, Hebrew, Latin, Span­ish, Eng­lish, and Greek. This allowed him to read all sorts of great works, from Darwin’s Ori­gin of Species to the writ­ings of Friederich Nietzsche

3. He was a big fan of Shakespeare

Freud loved lit­er­a­ture. He spent much of his free time read­ing Shakespeare’s works, and it has been sug­gest­ed that Freud’s expo­sure to Shakespeare’s char­ac­ters may have shaped his study of psychoanalysis.

4.He loved tobacco.

This icon­ic pic­ture of Freud fea­tures him hold­ing a cig­ar, but he actu­al­ly start­ed his habit with cig­a­rettes. Freud was a big fan of tobac­co: he insist­ed that it helped him work bet­ter and took the place of oth­er fix­a­tions and habits. His love for cigs end­ed poor­ly: he devel­oped fatal mouth can­cer and would ask to be euth­a­nized in 1939.

5. …and Cocaine

Freud was a doc­tor, and that meant chim­ing in on new med­ical devel­op­ments. As cocaine began to appear in Europe, Freud became an occa­sion­al user and strong pro­po­nent. He advo­cat­ed its use as an anes­thet­ic and painkiller, and would write Über Coca, a paper high­light­ing its virtues. 

6. He was seri­ous about joking

One of Freud’s less­er known ideas was that jokes rep­re­sent uncon­scious desires. He devel­oped a the­o­ry on why peo­ple make jokes, and would pub­lish Jokes and their Rela­tion to the Uncon­scious in 1905.

7. He might have been a philanderer…

Freud mar­ried Martha Bernays in 1886. In 1896, Martha’s sis­ter Min­na would move into the Freud home after her fiancé’s death. Many began to talk of an affair between Freud and his sis­ter-in-law. A trav­el log signed by Freud while trav­el­ing with Min­na serves as ten­u­ous evi­dence of an affair.

Freud’s wife Martha Bernays

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