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Freud's Patients and Therapy

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"take my hands in your hands, teach me to remember, teach me not to remember." - H.D., 1961
Freud's Patients and Therapy

Freud's Therapy Couch - Now located in the Freud Museum, London.

Photo courtesy Konstantin Binder

Much of Freudian therapy grew directly out of Freud's work with his psychoanalytic patients. As he tried to understand and explain their symptoms, he grew increasingly interested in the role of the unconscious mind in the development of mental illness.

Anna O.

While Anna O. is often referred to as one of Freud's most famous patients, the two never actually met. The real Anna O., a young woman by the name of Bertha Pappenheim, was actually a patient of Freud's friend and colleague, Josef Breuer. Through discussing her symptoms and treatment with Breuer and their eventual work on a book titled Studies on Hysteria, Freud continued to develop his theory and use of talk therapy.

Rat Man

Another of Freud's famous case studies is that of a young lawyer named Ernst Lanzer who is known as "the Rat Man" in the case history. Lanzer was plagued by obsessions with rats. In 1908, Freud presented the case in an extended lecture at the first meeting of the International Psychoanalytic Congress.

H.D.

One of Freud's most famous patients was the American poet and novelist Hilda Doolittle, who referred to herself as H.D. In 1933, Doolittle traveled to Vienna to undergo psychoanalytic treatment with Freud. She was experiencing distress following the end of World War I, and was increasingly worried about the threat of World War II. Doolittle later wrote a memoir titled Tribute to Freud, which was originally published in 1945.

The Wolf Man

Sergei Pankejeff was a Russian man who suffered from depression before eventually seeking out help from Freud. Dubbed the "Wolf Man" because of a childhood dream about wolves, the case ended up having a major influence on Freud's theory of psychosexual development. After a year of treatment, Freud declared the man cured, but Pankejeff's problems were far from over. He continued to seek out treatment for his depression for the rest of his life. When interviewed by a journalist prior to his death in 1979, Pankojeff lamented "...the whole thing looks like a catastrophe. I am in the same state as when I came to Freud, and Freud is no more."

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