Freud’s home of Vienna is the capital of Austria, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, ruled by the Habsburg Dynasty, from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. The Habsburg Empire included areas that are now parts of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Austria.
The Eighteenth Century: Maria Theresa and Joseph II
From 1740 to 1780, the Habsburg Empire was ruled by Empress Maria Theresa, the first woman to occupy this position. In 1737, her husband, Francis Stephen of Lorraine, inherited the title of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I. Thereafter, the house of Habsburg was known as Habsburg-Lorraine. Maria Theresa’s right to rule the empire was challenged in the War of the Austrian Succession, which lasted from 1740 to 1748. Upon victoriously settling this power dispute, Maria Theresa successfully instituted wide-reaching reforms in the military, financial, and administrative concerns of the empire, strengthening and consolidating her power in all of these areas. She also implemented a public school system designed to offer education to the lower echelons of society.
Freud mentions the empress Maria Theresa in a dream, which features an image from the reproduction of a woodcut that appeared in a book about the history of Austria. In Freud’s dream, his father stands in the place of the empress, surrounded by a crowd. He concludes that his dream is a wish-fulfillment on his part, as a...
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Freud made a bold move in choosing to write The Interpretation of Dreams, a ‘‘scientific’’ treatise, in the first-person narrative voice—meaning that he inserts himself into the text as an individual, using the pronoun ‘‘I.’’ Freud’s theoretical insights, which he puts forth in The Interpretation of Dreams, are a direct result of several years of intensive self-analysis; thus, he analyses his own dreams as examples to prove his theory of dream interpretation. He explains that to demonstrate his theory, he found that his own dreams provided ‘‘an abundant and convenient fund of material coming from a more or less normal person and relating to a variety of occasions in daily life,’’ in part due to the fact that ‘‘the conditions for self-observation are more favourable than the conditions for the observation of others.’’ He acknowledges at several points throughout the book the personal risk and embarrassment involved in so publicly delving into the depths of his own psyche, thereby revealing many personal feelings about his friends, family, and colleagues:
Reporting my own dreams, however, turned out to be inextricably tied to revealing more of the intimacies of my psychical life than I could wish or than usually falls to the task of an author who is not a poet, but a scientist. This was painful and embarrassing, but unavoidable; I have bowed to it then, so that I...
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Compare and Contrast
1278: The Habsburg Empire acquires Austria and makes Vienna its capital city.
1860: Freud’s family moves to Vienna.
1867: The Habsburg Empire centralizes authority over Hungary in Vienna, thus creating the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
1914: World War I is initiated by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, by a Serbian nationalist.
1916–1918: With the death of Francis Joseph, Charles becomes emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
1918: Following World War I, Emperor Charles is forced to abdicate, and the Habsburg Empire is formally dissolved into several independent nations, including an Austrian republic. Vienna is made the capital of the newly formed republic.
1938–1945: Austria is occupied by German forces under Hitler, who declares it part of ‘‘Greater’’ Germany. He declares Vienna a German province and renames it ‘‘Greater’’ Vienna.
1945–1955: In the wake of World War II, Austria is divided into four regions, each occupied by one of the Allied forces. Vienna is divided into four separate occupation zones.
1955: In the Austrian State Treaty, Austria is reestablished as a sovereign nation, with Vienna as its capital, and is declared a permanently neutral country.
1990s: Austria joins the European Union in 1995. Austria and...
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Topics for Further Study
Read one of the lectures from Freud’s Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1910). What is his central theoretical point in this lecture? To what extent do you agree or disagree with his conclusions?
Carl Jung was Freud’s most famous disciple with whom he had a falling-out over differences in psychoanalytic theory. Learn more about Jung and his contributions to psychoanalytic theory, particularly his theories of dream psychology. In what ways does Jung’s theory of dream psychology differ from that of Freud? To what extent do you find his ideas convincing?
Learn more about current approaches to psychology and psychotherapy. What are some of the more significant differences between current approaches and those of Freud? What similarities remain?
Freud’s life was deeply affected by the status of Jews in Vienna during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Learn more about Jewish life and culture and the expression of anti-Jewish sentiment in Vienna during Freud’s lifetime (1856–1939).
Analyze a recent dream of your own based on Freud’s theory of dream analysis. Do you find this analysis of your own dream convincing or insightful? Can you think of another way to interpret the same dream?
Freud drew some of his most important theories from examples of Greek mythology. Find a collection of Greek myths, such as Mythology, by Edith Hamilton, and read one of the myths. What insight does this...
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A fictionalized account of the life of Freud was the subject of Freud, the 1962 Hollywood movie directed by John Huston and starring Montgomery Clift in the title role.
Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, by Sigmund Freud, was recorded on audiocassette by Audio Scholar, read by Sydney Walker, in 1990.
Sigmund Freud is a biographical video recording of the life of Freud, first broadcast as part of a television series. It was produced by A&E Home Video and distributed by the New Video Group in 1997.
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What Do I Read Next?
The Letters of Sigmund Freud (1960), edited by Ernst L. Freud, includes a selection from Sigmund Freud’s prolific lifelong correspondence to family, friends, and colleagues.
In The Ego and the Id (1923), Freud elaborates upon his fundamental theory of the basic structure of the human psyche, composed of the id, the ego, and the superego.
Dreams (1974) is a collection of Carl Jung’s papers on dream psychology.
Sigmund Freud: His Life in Pictures and Words (1978), edited by Ernst Freud, Lucie Freud, and Ilse Grubrich-Simitis, includes a wide array of photographs from throughout Freud’s life, as well as a biographical sketch by K. R. Eissler.
In The Interpretation of Dreams: Freud’s Theories Revisited (1987), Laurence M. Porter explores critical responses to Freud’s theories of dream analysis from the perspective of developments in the field of dream psychology throughout the late twentieth century.
Freud: A Life for Our Times (1988) is the celebrated biography of Freud by Peter Gay, who has written numerous books on Freud’s life and work.
Freud’s Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1989), which was first published in 1910, is one of his seminal texts. In it he develops the fundamental elements of his theory of psychoanalysis. The 1989 edition is edited by James Strachey and includes a biographical introduction by Peter Gay.
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Bibliography and Further Reading
Crick, Joyce, ‘‘Note on the Translation,’’ in The Interpretation of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. xlii.
Freud, Sigmund, The Interpretation of Dreams, translated and edited by James Strachey, Avon Books, 1965, p. xxxii.
———, The Interpretation of Dreams, translated by Joyce Crick, with notes and an introduction by Ritchie Robertson, Oxford University Press, 1999.
Gay, Peter, ‘‘Psychoanalyst: Sigmund Freud,’’ in Time, Vol. 153, No. 12, March 29, 1999, p. 66.
Lear, Jonathan, ‘‘The Shrink Is In: A Counterblast in the War on Freud,’’ in New Republic, Vol. 213, No. 26, December 25, 1995, p. 18.
‘‘Re-examining Freud,’’ in Psychology Today, Vol. 23, No. 9, September, 1989, p. 48.
‘‘Sigmund Freud,’’ in Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2d ed., Vol. 6, Gale Research, 1998, pp. 103–06.
‘‘Year in Review 1994,’’ in Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1994–2000 (February 3, 2001).
Beller, Steven, Vienna and the Jews, 1867–1938: A Cultural History, Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Beller provides historical information on the status and culture of Jews in Vienna during a period roughly coinciding with Freud’s lifetime, including discussions of...
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Bibliography (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Elliott, Anthony, ed. Freud 2000. Cambridge, England: Polity Press, 1998. The essayists examine how Freud’s theories apply to current issues in the social sciences and humanities.
Frieden, Ken. Freud’s Dream of Interpretation. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990. Frieden asserts that despite Freud’s denials, he was influenced by biblical and rabbinical modes of dream interpretation. Convincingly argues that because interpretation is never a neutral act, Freud failed to acknowledge the prophetic aspect of his dream work.
Hyman, Stanley Edgar. “The Interpretation of Dreams.” In The Tangled Bank: Darwin, Marx, Frazer, and Freud as Imaginative Writers. New York: Atheneum, 1962. Hyman contends that the power of Freud’s ideas owes a great deal to his ability as an imaginative writer. He examines the tone, imaginative organization, and thematic metaphors of The Interpretation of Dreams.
Isbister, J. N. Freud: An Introduction to His Life and Work. Cambridge, England: Polity Press, 1985. Evaluates Freud’s ideas in a biographical and philosophical context and finds them wanting. Criticizes Freudian psychology as reductive and nihilistic. Calls for a revision of psychoanalytic dream theory in light of later studies on sleep.
Liu, Catherine, et al., eds. The Dreams of Interpretation: A Century down...
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