Portraits of the thirty-eight known patients Sigmund Freud treated clinically-some well-known, many obscure-reveal a darker, more complex picture of the famed psychoanalyst.
Everyone knows the characters described by Freud in his case histories: “Dora,” the “Rat Man,” the “Wolf Man.” But what do we know of the people, the lives behind these famous pseudonyms: Ida Bauer, Ernst Lanzer, Sergius Pankejeff? Do we know the circumstances that led them to Freud’s consulting room, or how they fared-how they really fared-following their treatments? And what of those patients about whom Freud wrote nothing, or very little: Pauline Silberstein, who threw herself from the fourth floor of her analyst’s building; Elfriede Hirschfeld, Freud’s “grand-patient” and “chief tormentor;” the fashionable architect Karl Mayreder; the psychotic millionaire Carl Liebmann; and so many others? In an absorbing sequence of portraits, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen offers the stories of these men and women-some comic, many tragic, all of them deeply moving. In total, thirty-eight lives tell us as much about Freud’s clinical practice as his celebrated case studies, revealing a darker and more complex Freud than is usually portrayed: the doctor as his patients, their friends, and their families saw him.