Sigmund Freud was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1856, and is known as the father of modern psychoanalysis. He was born in a small town called Freiberg, which would later become part of the Czech Republic. His parents were Hasidic Jews from Galicia who were struggling wool merchants, and when their son Sigmund (then known as Sigismund) was born with a caul they thought it a positive sign for the future of him and his family.

Sigmund entered the University of Vienna at seventeen years of age, and qualified as a medical doctor in 1881, at the age of only twenty-five. He got a position as docent of neuropathy in 1885, and went on to become an affiliated professor seven years later.

Revolutionary thought

Freud’s most important and most famous work is the work he did in creating psychoanalysis. This included the development of new insights and techniques, such as transference and free association. He also completely redefined sexuality in such a way as to lead to widespread protests of his work. Among some of his most famous terms and often quoted, is the Oedipus Complex, which suggests a child’s unspoken and/or repressed desire for sexual contact with a parental figure of the opposite sex.

Another important area of study for Freud the world of dreams. He believed that what we dream is the unconscious way that we express our innermost desires. In Freud’s view, these dreams could often be a reflection of the unconscious wishes of the dreamer, possibly connected to memories and experiences from the dreamer’s own childhood. Many people still believe that Freud thought all dreams to be of a sexual nature, but this was an early view he moved away from as his work evolved.

Escape and death

Later in life Freud found a growth is in mouth that was subsequently diagnosed as cancer. He had surgery more than once, and came close to death during an unnecessary cosmetic procedure performed by a doctor whose competence Freud had previously felts to be dubious. With the rise of Nazism, Freud realized he needed to escape, and so fled to the United Kingdom in 1938. He died in exile a year later.