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Young Dr. Freud
Theories Analysis Perspectives
Family: Childhood
Freud's childhood home in Freiberg
Freud's childhood home in Freiberg
(Freud Museum London)
 
Sigmund Freud was born on May 6th, 1856 in a rented room over a blacksmith's shop in Freiberg in Moravia, a small town in what is now a part of the Czech Republic, fifty miles north of Vienna. He traced his sense of confidence and destiny to his first years growing up in the simple provincial town.

FREUD: "I recall an anecdote I often heard repeated in my childhood. At the time of my birth an old peasant-woman had prophesied to my proud mother that with her first-born child she brought a great man into the world."

The dynamics of his extended family left their impression on Freud in his first years of life.
Freud's father Jacob was forty when Freud was born, twenty years older than Freud's mother Amalie. The patriarch of a large family, he had already been married twice, with the children of his first marriage older than Amalie. The dynamics of his extended family left their impression on Freud in his first years of life.

GAY: One of those sons from the first marriage was, Freud felt, flirtatious with Freud's own mother. So there was a lot of inter-generational complexity there. Here's a boy who grew up with his relationship curiosity at high pitch.

Playing happily in the fields beyond his village, surrounded by an adoring family, Freud fondly recollected his early years.

FREUD: "Of one thing I am certain. Deep within me, covered over, there still lives that happy child from Freiberg, the first born son of a youthful mother, who had received the first indelible impressions from this air, from this soil."

But when Freud was three, everything changed. In 1859, Jacob's business had failed and Freud left Freiburg forever. Only about four years-old at the time, fractured memories were all that remained of that traumatic leave taking: the gas lamps at the train station, which reminded him of "souls burning in hell;" and a furtive glimpse of his mother nude.

For the rest of his life, Freud was haunted by the sense of something irretrievably lost.
He was leaving behind everything he knew and loved, his aunts, uncles, nephews, and playmates, all gone. For the rest of his life, Freud was haunted by the sense of something irretrievably lost.

FREUD: "I have never got over the longing for my home…"



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