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3 Facts You Might Not Know about Freud and His Biggest Addiction

You may know that Sigmund Freud, the famed founder of psychoanalysis, had a fascination with cocaine and abused it for many years.

But you might not know these three facts that relate to Freud’s longstanding interest in cocaine. Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D, professor of medical history at the University of Michigan, documents all this and more in his comprehensive, beautifully written book An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted and the Miracle Drug Cocaine.

1. Freud was initially attracted to cocaine because he wanted to help a close friend.

One of Freud’s dearest friends, Dr. Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, was heavily addicted to morphine, and Freud initially believed that cocaine could cure him. A brilliant man and talented doctor, Fleischl-Marxow had an accident while doing research at the age of 25. He “accidentally nicked his right thumb with a scalpel he was applying to a cadaver,” according to Dr. Markel.

This seemingly minor wound turned into a horrible infection and the thumb had to be amputated.

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3 Facts You Might Not Know about Freud and His Biggest Addiction

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  1. Cocaine use interdicts long and short term memory access and storage, so it’s impossible that Freud would even remember his “missing years”, just as he couldn’t have written about them while under the influence. Neither could he have done it in later years, as all of the necessary associative memory connections never formed, remain permanently inaccessible to the cocaine-saturate mind and as such, don’t even exist for the unfortunate abuser.


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