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Unearthed: the authentic sound of Sigmund Freud

Psychology magazine has retrieved the only known recording of Sigmund Freud, a statement in English taken by a BBC crew in December 1938 and deposited at the Library of Congress. This you must hear:


Transcript: I started my professional activity as a neurologist trying to bring relief to my neurotic patients. Under the influence of an older friend and by my own efforts, I discovered some important new facts about the unconscious in psychic life, the role of instinctual urges, and so on. Out of these findings grew a new science, psychoanalysis, a part of psychology, and a new method of treatment of the neuroses. I had to pay heavily for this bit of good luck. People did not believe in my facts and thought my theories unsavory. Resistance was strong and unrelenting. In the end I succeeded in acquiring pupils and building up an International Psychoanalytic Association. But the struggle is not yet over.  –Sigmund Freud.

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  1. Another delicious morsel. Freud has lived on not only through his neurotic repressed patients and his still challenged theories, but also, maybe more important, through the work of his nephew Edward Bernays in advertising and propaganda with a neurotic (and repressed) public.

    • David Schatzky says:

      Sigmund might turn over in his grave seeing how Bernays used Freudian concepts of the unconscious to manipulate the public, and it might be fair to say that the impact on society has been pernicious.

  2. A more knowledgable comment would include the understanding that Freud never said he had the final word.
    He hoped, and expected, others to continue on discovering and developing this field of medicine. His theories
    were supposed to be challenged, researched, and developed.

  3. Katherine says:

    Rather refreshing, this man was truly wise.

    Although some would question his knowledge to purely benefit people (or rather just the wealthy/powerful).

    An interesting case non-the-less.

  4. Where was it retrieved from? Whenever something is left unsaid, suspicions arise that this could be part of a global Illuminatist conspiracy, to bring out e.g. the Library of Congress in just the right moment of history. ;)

    But seriously, why would you skip that noun phrase. Where is it from?

    Is there a longer section of this speech perhaps in German?

  5. Marshall says:

    It would be delicious if a recorded statement of Freud’s quote about heartily recommending the Gestapo could ever be found

    • It was a statement that Freud signed under duress, in order to be granted a visa to leave Austria (with members of his family). The added bit–purportedly penned by Freud himself–about “…heartily recommend[ing] the Gestapo” was simply not in evidence in the original document, when it was finally unearthed:

      From Wikiquotes (please read closely the last two paragraphs):

      “First reported in Ernest Jones: Sigmund Freud. Life and work. (1957) p. 226 books google:

      One of the conditions for being granted an exit visa was that he sign a document that ran as follows, “I Prof. Freud, hereby confirm that after the Anschluss of Austria to the German Reich I have been treated by the German authorities and particularly the Gestapo with all the respect and consideration due to my scientific reputation, that I could live and work in full freedom, that I could continue to pursue my activities in every way I desired, that I found full support from all concerned in this respect, and that I have not the slightest reason for any complaint.” When the Nazi Commissar brought it along Freud had of course no compunction in signing it, but he asked if he might be allowed to add a sentence, which was: “I can heartily recommend the Gestapo to anyone”.

      Freud’s eldest son Martin told a similar story in his Book Glory Reflected. Sigmund Freud – Man and Father (London 1957; Sigmund Freud – Man and Father, New York 1958, p. 217):
      [...] an S.S. party had come to ask father to give a certificate proclaiming that he had been well treated by the authorities. Without hesitation, father wrote “Ich kann die Gestapo jedermann auf das beste empfehlen (I can recommend the Gestapo very much to everyone),” using the style of a commercial advertisement. The irony escaped the Nazis; although they were not altogether sure as they passed the certificate from man to man. Finally, however, they shrugged their shoulders and marched off, evidently deciding it was the best the old man could think of.

      In 1989 the original text turned up in an auction of documents concerning the emigration of Freud’s family. It contained no “recommendation” but only a very sober confirmation of not having been harassed but treated decently by the authorities, written by Freud’s lawyer Dr. Alfred Indra and signed “Wien, den 4. Juni 1938. Prof. Dr. Sigm. Freud.” (Alain de Mijolla: A Sale in Vienna. Journal de l’association internationale d’histoire de la psychanalyse, vol. 8 (1989),”

      Martin Freud’s daughter Sophie commented in her book Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family (Praeger, Westport CT 2007, p. 137
      This document was later found by historians, and no such sentence appears in it. I can imagine a scenario in which Freud told his family what he almost wrote. It would indeed have been unthinkable for Freud to jeopardize the lives of 17 people for the sake of a clever joke.

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