Freud was born Sigismund Schlomo Freud to Jewish parents on 6th May 1856, in Příbor, Moravia. His family moved to Vienna when he was still a baby, and it became Freud’s home until he was forced to flee the Nazis in 1938. He started his career as a neurologist, though he was always deeply interested in philosophy. As a medical student at the University of Vienna Freud studied philosophy, zoology and physiology.
When he was 29, Freud studied with neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in Paris. Charcot was chiefly involved in investigating hysteria and the potential of hypnosis, and his work had a huge impact on Freud’s thinking and subsequent choice of career. On his return to Vienna, Freud decided he would establish himself as a psychologist specializing in pathological disorders, using hypnosis as his method of treatment. Over the next decade Freud, alongside his friend Josef Breuer, developed a new clinical technique that abandoned hypnosis in favour of something to be known as “free association”: this was the birth of psychoanalysis.
Klein met Freud several times, but he was never supportive of her ideas, perhaps because Klein was his daughter Anna’s direct rival and most threatening critic in the world of child analysis. Klein was often accused of failing to adhere to Freud’s theories, and therefore falling short of true psychoanalytic enquiry. However, Klein always maintained that Freud was her biggest influence and most revered precursor, and that all of her theory sprang from the original root that was the Freudian canon.
He died on 23rd September 1939, aged 83.