Freud, Sigmund (1856–1939)
Founder of psychoanalysis. Freud conducted some experiments
in parapsychology but was unsympathetic to public discussion
of the occult, which he believed to be enveloped in dangerous
superstition. Freud was born at Freiburg, Moravia, on
May 6, 1856. He graduated from Vienna University, Austria,
and became a demonstrator at the physiological institute and
an assistant physician at Vienna General Hospital. In 1885 he
worked under the neurologist J. M. Charcot in Paris and, after
returning to Vienna, started to treat patients by hypnosis. In
1902, while a professor of neurology at Vienna University, he
also treated patients in his private clinic.
In 1904 he abandoned hypnosis and developed his own theories
of psychoanalysis using techniques of free association in
the treatment of neurosis. He later attached great significance
to the role of dreams and the importance of the sexual drive,
both in individuals and in the development of civilization. His
sexual theories were supported and developed in new directions
by his pupil Wilhelm Reich.
It was Freud’s emphasis on sex and mistrust of mystical and
occult areas that caused the defection of another pupil, C. G.
Jung, who later established his own system of psychotherapy
with elaborate theories of the significance of mythology and
symbolism in human affairs. Jung himself had personal occult
By 1921 Freud had reached a reluctant private conclusion
that there might be something to telepathy; he experimented
with the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi but did not
wish his interest to be made public. His papers on the paranormal
were later gathered and published by George Devereaux.
He died in London, September 23, 1939.
Freud once wrote to Hereward Carrington, ‘‘If I had my life
to live over again, I should devote myself to psychical research
rather than to psychoanalysis.’’
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Devereaux, George, ed. Psychoanalysis and the Occult. New
York International Universities Press, 1953.
Fodor, Nandor. Freud, Jung, and Occultism. New Hyde Park,
N.Y. University Books, 1971.
Freud, Sigmund. Studies in Parapsychology. Edited by Philip
Rieff. New York Collier Books, 1963.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964