Sigmund Freud was born May 6, 1856. He was born in a small, predominantly Roman Catholic town called Freiburg, in Movaria- now known as Czechoslovakia. He was born the son of Jacob Freud, a Jewish wool merchant, and his third wife, Amalia.
Jacob Freud and Amalia Nathanson were married in 1855. Freud was born of a singular and bizarre marriage. In contrast to his mother’s youth, twenty years of age, his father was middle-aged at forty years of age, and had two sons from a previous marriage, both of whom were older than his new wife. In fact, Phillip, the older of the two was himself a father of two children, John and Pauline, when Freud was born. Freud was born an uncle, but he was in fact a year younger than his nephew John, and just slightly younger than his niece Pauline, both of who were playmates of his childhood. This was to be Amalia’s first child, her darling, Sigmund.
When Freud was born in 1856, Jacob and Amalia Freud were hopelessly poor. They occupied a single rented room in a humble house. Jacob and Amalia were Jewish; however, the Catholic Church dominated the town of Freiburg. Aside from the church, the only attractions were a handsome market square and inviting surroundings that featured stretches of fertile farmland, dense woods, and gentle hills. At the time of Freud’s birth, the town had over 4,500 inhabitants, with only about 130 of them being Jewish. Similarly, at this time, to be Jewish meant to be a member of a highly visible and oppressed minority.
Before Freud was even two years old, in 1857, Amalia was pregnant with another child. Because his family assemblage was so unusual, to him, his mother seemed far better matched with his half-brother than his father, yet it was his father that shared his mother’s bed. Freud somehow came to believe that his half-brother Philipp had taken his father’s place as a competitor for his mother’s affection. He found these things to be very perplexing. His mind consisted of these things: his mother pregnant with a rival, his half-brother in some mysterious way his mother’s companion, and his benign father old enough to be his grandfather. This perhaps led to his preoccupation with sexual matters. Incidentally, Freud’s new rival, Anna Freud, was born in 1885.
Then, in 1859, perhaps due to the decline of the textile market coupled with an increase with anti-Semitism in this predominantly Roman Catholic town in Movaria, Jacob Freud decided to move the family three years after Freud was born. They moved briefly to Leipzig in 1859, and then, the year after, to Vienna where Freud lived most of his life. Here the instability of their financial situation was not alleviated by Amalia’s fertility. Upon moving to Vienna there were but two children, Sigmund and Anna, now in rapid succession, between 1860 and 1866, Freud was presented with five more siblings, four sisters and one brother. And since six other children followed Freud, the mating periods...