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Young Dr. Freud
Analysis Perspectives Family
Theories: Science
Sigmund Freud, the man who would one day explore the tumultuous world of the mind - desires, dreams, anxieties, wishes - began by studying the anatomy of the brain. At the University of Vienna, he published well-argued scientific papers with cautious conclusions, illustrated by his own painstaking drawings. University of Vienna
University of Vienna
(Institute for the History of Medicine, Vienna)
 
Ernst Wilhelm von Brucke
Ernst Wilhelm von Brucke
(Sigmund Freud Copyrights)
 
His teacher, Ernst Wilhelm von Brucke, was one of the most famous scientists of his day. With his piercing blue eyes and penetrating intellect, Brucke was a formidable figure, "the greatest authority," Freud wrote, "I ever met."

Forty years Freud's senior, Brucke was the first of a series of men whom Freud would revere and emulate, before striking out in his own direction.

GAY: Brucke was very tough on the medical students who worked with him, and very demanding, [Freud felt] a sense of admiration as well as a good deal of fear, the way you might feel about a very intelligent, very demanding father.

Brucke insisted on careful observation, experimentation, and physical or chemical explanations of biological phenomena. For Brucke, the intangible feelings and thoughts of the mind were hidden within the brain's gelatinous tissue. Even the mind could be reduced to physical laws.

BERGMANN: The main thing that the young [Freud] learns in Brucke's laboratory is that nothing is valid which can not be put into strict laws of physics and chemistry. That is, the whole wish to reduce the human being to the laws of science.

Freud published a paper on cocaine, and prescribed it for himself, his patients, and his friends.
Cocaine was a powerful painkiller, but Freud discovered that it also acted on depression. Freud published a paper on cocaine, and prescribed it for himself, his patients, and his friends. He even sent some to his fiancée Martha "to make her strong," he wrote her, and "give her cheeks a red color."

EAGLE: He complains of depression and of low energy level… He finds this magical substance, which elevates his mood, which gives him enormous energy, and he feels like he has discovered the elixir of life. Freud did not anticipate [cocaine's] very, very strong addictive qualities.

When other scientists discovered cocaine's addictive powers, Freud's hopes for success and fortune quickly vanished. Although he would turn to cocaine occasionally during the next years, he never became addicted, and eventually stopped using it altogether.



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