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"Men are more moral than they think and far more immoral than they can imagine." - Sigmund Freud

Sigmund FreudSigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, was born in Freiburg, Moravia (then part of the Austrian Empire, now part of the Czech Republic) in 1856 of Jewish parentage. He studied medicine at Vienna, then specialized in neurology, and later in psychopathology.   In 1886 he went into private practice specializing in nervous and brain disorders, and started to experiment with hypnotism with his most hysterical patients, but gave this up in favor of simply getting his patients to lie on a couch and say whatever came into their minds (which he termed "free association").

He became convinced that infantile sexuality was a fact - a theory that isolated him from the medical profession of the day, but over time his theories became more accepted and in 1902 he was appointed to a professorship in Vienna where he developed a loyal following including Adler and Jung;  he later formed the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society (1908) and the International Psychoanalytic Association (1910).  By 1930 he had won some acceptance for his theories, and was awarded the Goethe Prize (a prestigious German literary award that had been introduced a few years earlier - which still exists today but is now a triennial, not annual, award) in recognition of his contributions to psychology. 

In 1933, the Nazis seized power in Germany and Freud's books were publicly burnt when Hitler banned psychoanalysis.  Following the Nazi invasion of Austria, Freud and his family escaped to England, where they settled in Hampstead, North London (their house is now a museum).

A heavy cigar smoker (an entire box daily), he contracted cancer of the mouth at the age of 67 and underwent more than 30 operations including having his jaw removed, which required him to wear a painful prosthesis to seal his mouth from his nasal cavity.  Unable to tolerate the pain any longer he died in 1939 of a physician-assisted morphine overdose.  He was 83.

His family stayed in England - his eldest daughter, Anna, became a distinguished psychologist, his grandson, Lucian (who died in 2011) was a well-known painter. Another grandson was the politician and writer, Clement Freud (who died in 2009). His great-grandchildren include the journalist Emma Freud, and Matthew Freud - who runs an influential PR company.

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