On the dawn of May 6, 1856 in the small, unassuming village of Freiberg, Moravia a child was born that would someday develop theories which would generate a great deal of controversy and, consequently, pave the way for revolutionary approaches to the understanding of the human mind. This child came to be internationally renowned as Sigmund Freud and his theory in now known to the world as psychoanalysis.
Freud was born to a Jewish family of merchants and at the age of four, his family moved to Vienna, where Freud remained for the full duration of his life until the Nazi invasion and occupation in 1938 (Halgin & Whitbourne, 2003). The ethnic rigidity, cultural tumult, and class conflicts in Vienna formed the backdrop of Freud's daily existence (Gay, 1988). At that time, the city was a laboratory for radical advances in politics and philosophy. .
Freud grew to be an intellectual and determined young man that was intrigued by classical literature and philosophy and in 1873 he embarked on a journey to study medicine at the University of Vienna, where he was trained as a neurologist. There his early fascination with physiology and neurology prospered into an extensive investigation of the human state under the influence of Wilhelm Fleiss and Jean-Martin Charcot (Halgin & Whitbourne, 2003). .
Wilhelm Fliess was a nose and throat specialist from Berlin and he was Freud's best friend during the 1890s(Gay, 1988). Both men shared a love for controversial speculation. For instance, Fleiss had a theory that linked the state of the nose to numerous sexual disorders. Freud was infatuated with Fliess, even noting a "homosexual" component in his affection for him, until their falling out in 1900-1901 (Gay, 1988). .
Jean-Martin Charcot was a Parisian neurologist known all over Europe for his studies of hysterics and use of hypnosis. After graduating from the University of Vienna, Freud traveled to France to learn about hypnosis, a method of treatment that fascinated him.