Sigmund Freud: Rare Facts About The Famed Psychoanalyst

Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939, Austrian psychiatrist, in the office of his Vienna home looking at a manuscript. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

His Big Hit Was Initially A Dud

Freud is perhaps most famous in the modern day for his development of the technique of psychoanalysis, his controversial and perhaps questionable revelations on human sexual development, and his penchant for interpreting dreams. It may be surprising to find out that the book that is now considered his most impactful and what he considered himself to be his "most significant" contribution to the field, The Interpretation Of Dreams, took eight whole years to sell its initial print run of only 600 copies. However, as the decades went on, the use of dreams in analysis as well as among the general public became more common, and he lived long enough to see the book become a cultural and commercial success.

He Really Liked Cocaine

During his experiments with pharmacology, Freud became fascinated by the purported benefits of a new miracle cure: cocaine. He found that when he laced his water with small amounts of the powder, his productivity went up, he felt his mood lighten, and his confidence soared. He even began recommending it to his patients to predictably disastrous results, as many struggled with the drug and one patient even developed a full-blown addiction. When more deaths and addictions became linked to the drug over the years, Freud stopped advocating for its health benefits and eventually gave the substance up himself, but he wasn't alone in his short-lived love of the drug. Even the popular soda brand Coca-Cola contained ample amounts of the stuff until 1903.

Freud (aged 16) and his mother, Amalia, in 1872. (Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons)

He Didn't Care About Hollywood

Freud turned down a lot of money in his lifetime from several outlets trying to get the famed neurologist's take on various celebrities or historical figures. One one occasion, Samuel Goldwyn of M.G.M. offered Freud $100,000 (or over $1.5 million today) to be a script consultant on some upcoming love stories like Cleopatra, but he turned it down due to lack of interest. Likewise, he was offered $25,000 by the Chicago Tribune for his insights into Nathan Leopold, Jr. and Richard Albert Loeb, who were charged with the murder of a child after claiming they wanted to pull off the "perfect crime," but again, Freud denied the request.

Sigmund Freud's couch. (Robert Huffstutter/Wikimedia Commons)

He Ran From The Nazis

Freud was Jewish, so when the Nazi regime annexed Austria during Hitler's reign, the psychoanalyst was, of course, in danger. He narrowly escaped capture with the help of Denmark's Princess Marie Bonaparte, a longtime patient and psychotherapist herself who gifted Freud's famed couch to him after a successful treatment, but the Nazis made a show of burning Freud's books and captured much of the rest of his family after the war began. Four of his sisters were sent to concentration camps, where they all met their untimely deaths. Freud never knew this.