Little more than a year after his arrival from Vienna as an exile from Nazi Austria, Prof. Sigmund Freud, world, renowned founder of psychoanalysis, was dead here today.
Prof. Freud, who had been ill during most of his brief residence in England, died just before midnight last night at the age of 83. His death brought to an end a career that had left its indelible mark on the thought, habits and language of the entire civilized world.
The originator of countless new theories in the field of psychology which plunged the scientific world into bitter controversy, Dr. Freud died while the echoes of his latest venture in upsetting preconceived beliefs–his volume on “Moses and Monotheism”–were still resounding in his ears.
This work, prepared while still in Vienna and published after his arrival in London turned the light of his psychological methods on the origins of Judaism and related questions. His contentions that Moses was an Egyptian, that he was murdered by the Jews in the Wilderness, that a second Moses gave to the Jews the teachings of Jehovah, that religion in general is analagous to a neurosis in the individual have precipitated endless controversy.
Known as a Viennese, Dr. Freud was born a Moravian in the town of Freiburg, on May 6, 1856. He took his medical degree at the University of Vienna, on the faculty of which he was later to become Professor Extraordinary in Neuropathology and where he was to experience his first major contact with anti-Semitism.
Writing of this period of his life later, Dr. Freud said: “My parents were Jews and I have remained a Jew myself. I have reason to believe that my father’s family were settled for a long time on the Rhine; that as a result of persecution of the Jews during the fourteenth and fifteenth century, they fled eastward and that in the course of the nineteenth century, they migrated back from Lithuania through Galicia into German Austria.
“When in 1873 I first joined the University (of Vienna), I was met by some appreciable disappointments. Above all I found that I was expected to feel myself inferior and an alien because I was a Jew. I refused absolutely to do the first of these things. I have never been able to see why I should feel ashamed of my descent, or, as people were beginning to say; of my race. I put up without much regret with my non-admission to the community; for it seemed to me that in spite of this exclusion an active fellow worker could not fail to find some nook or cranny in the framework of humanity.
“These first impressions at the University, however, had one consequence which was afterwards to prove important, for at an early age I was made familiar with the fate of being in the opposition and of being put under the ban of the compact majority. The foundations were thus laid for a certain degree of independence of judgment.”
Dr. Freud’s last years were disturbed by more violent manifestations of anti-Semitism, including the Nazi pogroms in Germany and his own experiences with the Nazis after the Anschluss. When he sought to leave Vienna, upon the urgings of his friends, the Nazi authorities refused to let him go. Finally, permission to leave was granted, but only upon the reported payment of a ransom which organizations of psychoanalysts in the United States, France, England and elsewhere were instrumental in raising. During his last months in Vienna, according to friends, he remained in seclusion in his five-room apartment “dreading insults if he emerged–because he is a Jew.”
Among the countless honors heaped upon Dr. Freud in his later years was the Goethe prize for his contributions to philosophy, awarded in 1930. The prize at that time was deemed the greatest scientific and literary distinction in Germany. New words that Dr. Freud’s theories contributed to the English language included such as these, which have now attained common usage: “Complex, inhibition, neurosis, psychosis, repression, resistance and transferance.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.