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Young Dr. Freud
Theories Analysis Perspectives
Family: Mother
Amalie Freud
Amalie Freud
(David Grubin Productions)
Young Freud became the focus of his mother's most extravagant hopes. A brilliant student, he finished at the top of his class seven out of eight years. Five sisters and a brother were born by the time he was ten, but in a growing family constellation, the first-born son remained the brightest star. When he complained that his sister's piano playing interfered with his concentration, his mother stopped the piano lessons.

FREUD: "I have found that people who know that they are preferred or favored by their mothers give evidence in their lives of a peculiar self-reliance and an unshakeable optimism which often bring actual success to their possessors."

GAY: He always emphasized that she was a very beautiful woman, very vivacious and attractive.

GAY: He was close to her, she was certainly close to him. She was very strong. We know from comments by other relatives that she was domineering and dictatorial. I think he was a little afraid of her.

As an adult, Freud went to see his mother Amalie every Sunday...
As an adult, Freud went to see his mother Amalie every Sunday, always bringing flowers, delighting in her praise, making much of her devotion.

FREUD: "If a man has been his mother's undisputed darling, he retains throughout life triumphant feelings… This is altogether the most perfect, the most free from ambivalence of all human relationships."

Freud and his mother
Freud and his mother
(Freud Museum London)
Anxious to preserve the gratifying thought of the purity of his mother's love, Freud never looked too deeply into their relationship.

BERGMANN: We all prefer legend to fact, and he was no exception. Freud [said] that he was her golden-haired Siggy. It was a wishful fantasy.

SOPHIE FREUD: He saw his mother weekly for Sunday lunch, but he had stomach aches every time.

BERGMANN: If you create an image of your mother that doesn't correspond to reality, if you idealize her, then you don't want to know who she is. And if you don't want to know who she is, then the likelihood is that you will not look very carefully at any other woman.

Freud, who was continually worried about his poor health, feared that he would die before his mother. He could not bear the thought the emotional strain that would result in her having to be told that he had died.

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