The Age of Wisdom 1922–1939

A Biography

About Sigmund Freud

The Age of Wisdom 1922–1939

In 1922, aged sixty-six, Sigmund Freud introduces his daughter, Anna Freud, to the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society, a symbolic act through which he passes the torch to the following generation. There follows a period of international fame, of meetings with celebrities and honours, swiftly overshadowed by the rise of Nazism in Germany and a painful illness that will affect Freud’s capacity for public speaking, and will eventually take his life as an exile in London. Nevertheless, Freud will tirelessly devote what is left of his energies to writing and publishing in order to consolidate the trajectory of psychoanalysis.

1923: First symptoms of a cancer of the jaw and the first in a series of some thirty operations before his death. After the second operation Freud undergoes the insertion of a major prosthesis to separate the oral and nasal cavities. His only nurse is his daughter, Anna.

1923: Correspondence with writer Roman Rolland.

1923: Publishes The Ego and the Id.

1924: The city of Vienna awards Freud Bürgerrecht, or “citizen rights”, a kind of freedom of the city.

1924: Publishes The Economic Problem of Masochism.

1925: Publishes An Autobiographical Study, an exclusively scientific autobiography.

1925: Anna Freud reads Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes at the Hamburg convention on behalf of her father.

1925: Death of Joseph Breuer.

1926: Publishes Inhibition, Symptom and Anxiety.

1926: Publishes Analysis as practiced by Non Physicians (Psychoanalysis and Medicine).

1926: Meets Albert Einstein in Berlin.

1926: Freud’s patient, Marie Bonaparte, finances and founds the Paris Psychoanalytic Society (SPP) with Laforgue.

1927: Publishes Fetishism.

1927: Publishes The Future of an Illusion.

1929: Publishes Civilization and its Discontents.

1930: Anna Freud receives the Goethe Prize on behalf of her father in Frankfurt Town Hall and delivers her father’s speech.

1931: Freud drafts and writes a psychoanalytical study on the president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson (published in 1967).

1931: Death of Freud’s mother, aged 95.

1931: Freud appointed honorary member of the Society of Physicians of Vienna.

1931: Publishes Female Sexuality.

1931: Meets the singer Yvette Guilbert.

1932: Meets the German Nobel Prize-winner for literature, Thomas Mann, who in 1929, referring to Freud’s exile, said of Hitler “How the man must hate analysis!”

1933: Takeover in Germany by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler: Freud’s works are burnt in public book burnings and Freudian psychoanalysis is soon eradicated from Germany in favour of an Aryan psychoanalysis, of which Carl Gustav Jung becomes the official representative until 1940.

1933: The American novelist and feminist poet Hilda Doolittle takes Freud as her analyst and publishes her memoirs of the experience in Writing on the Wall, a journal of her analysis and a subtle and accurate tribute to the cordial atmosphere that Sigmund Freud was able to establish with his patients.

1933: Death of Sándor Ferenczi from pernicious anæmia.

1933: Publishes Why War? with Albert Einstein.

1934: Begins to draft Moses and Monotheism.

1934: Meets French sociologist and anthropologist Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, a specialist in the primitive mind.

1936: Verlag editions seized by the Gestapo in Leipzig.

1936: Death of Alfred Adler.

1936: Thomas Mann gives an eightieth-birthday lecture for Freud, entitled Freud and the Future.

1936: Worsening of Freud’s cancer.

1937: Publishes Analysis Terminable and Interminable.

1937: Marie Bonaparte purchases Freud’s correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess from a dealer.

1937: Death of Lou Andreas-Salomé.

1938: During the annexation of Austria by the Nazis, Freud’s house is searched by the SA and Anna Freud is arrested and subsequently released. With the help of Ernest Jones, the political backing of Marie Bonaparte and the intercession of the US ambassador, Freud, his wife and his daughter Anna manage to leave Vienna for London, where two of their children are already waiting for them, along with Minna Bernays. Receiving an enthusiastic welcome, Freud and his family soon move into Maresfield Gardens, now the Sigmund Freud Museum.

1938: Meets surrealist painter Salvador Dalí.

1938: Founds the Imago Publishing Company for the publication of his complete works.

1939: Publishes Moses and Monotheism in English.
With Freud’s cancer now inoperable and his suffering unbearable, he turns, in consultation with his near and dearest, to his personal physician, Max Schur. Schur gives him two injections of morphine twelve hours apart after which he slips into a coma and dies on 23 September 1939 at the age of eighty-three.

A large part of the Jewish community of which Sigmund Freud was a member disappears in the Holocaust or Shoah, notably four of Freud’s five sisters: Regine Debora (Rosa), Marie (Mitzi), Esther Adolfine (Dolfi) and Pauline (Paula).

Find out more about Sigmund Freud

Annotated Bibliography
Little Dictionary
Freud’s Contemporaries