His jewish father, Jacob Freud (1815–1896) was a wool merchant, and had two children by a previous marriage. His jewish mother, Amalié née Nathansohn, the third wife of Jacob, was 21. He was the first of their eight children and, in accordance with tradition, his parents favored him over his siblings from the early stages of his childhood. Freud was born with a caul, which the family accepted as a positive omen.
Sigismund Schlomo Freud was a „partially assimilated, mostly secular Jew.“ According to biographer Ernest Jones (1945) „Freud’s Jewishness contributed greatly to his work and his firm convictions about his findings. Freud often referred to his ability to stand alone, if need be, without wavering or surrendering his intellectual and scientific discoveries, and he attributed this ability to his irreligious but strong Jewish identity in an antisemitic society, whereby he was accustomed to a marginal status and being set aside as different.“
Sigismund Schlomo Freud once described himself as „an author who is ignorant of the language of holy writ, who is completely estranged from the religion of his fathers—as well as from every other religion“, but who remains „in his essential nature a Jew, and who has no desire to alter that nature“.
Despite their poverty, the Freuds ensured Sigmund’s schooling and education. Due to the Panic of 1857, Freud’s father lost his business, and the Freud family moved to Leipzig before settling in Vienna. In 1865, the nine-year-old student Sigismund Schlomo Freud entered the Leopoldstädter Kommunal-Realgymnasium, a prominent high school. He proved an outstanding pupil and graduated from the Matura in 1873 with honors. He went to the University of Vienna at 17.
Sigismund Schlomo Freud had planned to study law, but instead joined the medical faculty at the University of Vienna to study under Darwinist Professor Karl Claus. At that time, the eel life cycle was unknown and Freud spent four weeks at the Austrian zoological research station in Trieste, dissecting hundreds of eels in an unsuccessful search for their male reproductive organs.
Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939), was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis. An early neurological researcher into cerebral palsy, aphasia and microscopic neuroanatomy, Sigismund Schlomo Freud later developed theories about the unconscious mind and the mechanism of repression, and established the field of verbal psychotherapy by creating psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient (or „analysand“) and a psychoanalyst. Psychoanalysis has in turn helped inspire the development of many other forms of psychotherapy, some diverging from Freud’s original ideas and approach.
Sigismund Schlomo Freud postulated that sexual drives were the primary motivational forces of human life, developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association, discovered the phenomenon of transference in the therapeutic relationship and established its central role in the analytic process, and interpreted dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires. Sigismund Schlomo Freud was also a prolific essayist, drawing on psychoanalysis to contribute to the history, interpretation and critique of culture.