Freud (1962) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • An examination of Sigmund Freud's career when he began to treat patients diagnosed with hysteria, using the radical technique of hypnosis.

    Will S
  • This pseudobiographical movie depicts five years from 1885 on in the life of the Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). At this time, most of his colleagues refuse to cure hysteric patients, because they believe they're just simulating to gain attention. But Freud learns to use hypnosis to find out the reasons for the psychosis. His main patient is a young woman who refuses to drink water and is plagued repeatedly by the same nightmare.

  • The story compresses the many years it took Sigmund Freud to evolve his psychoanalytic theories into what seems like a few months. Almost every neurotic symptom imaginable conveniently manifests itself in one (composite) patient, Cecily Koertner. She is sexually repressed, hysterical, and fixated on her father. And so Freud goes to work, developing one hypothesis after another. Also shown is Freud's home life with his wife Martha, whom he alternately discusses his theories with and patronizes when she reads one of his papers.

  • The early career of Viennese based Dr. Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psychoanalysis, is presented. This phase of his story begins in 1885, when he is a researcher in a hospital under the direction of renowned Dr. Theodore Meynert. It is a time when scientific belief is that all human actions are conscious decisions, and anything that would be deemed abnormal behavior is classified as hysteria, the behavior a means to garner attention to oneself. After witnessing the work of Paris based Dr. Charcot - that work demonstrating that patients with hysteria under hypnosis may no longer display their physical maladies based purely on hypnotic suggestion - Freud, under the vehement objections of Dr. Meynert (despite an eventual admission by Meynert to Freud), begins to test his developing theories of a subconscious causing many of these maladies in patients with hysteria. Freud ends up being mentored by older Dr. Joseph Breuer, who not only allows Freud access to his patients with hysteria, but funds what will be listed as their joint research, but which is largely Freud's as Breuer is more the practitioner. Freud's encounters with two of Breuer's patients - Carl von Schlossen, who has delusions of having killed his military father, and young Cecily Koertner, who has a series of medically unexplainable maladies such as blindness and paralysis in both legs and who eventually falls in love with Dr. Breuer - prove both to be dangerous to their overall health and useful in the evolution of what ends up being Freud's controversial theory of the sexual mind in infancy - what is eventually coined the Oedipus complex - being the basis for many of the physical manifestations of hysteria. Freud's work places a strain on his marriage to his faithful wife, Martha Freud, who feels uncomfortable that the wives of his colleagues know more about his work than she does, and uncomfortable with the discussions he has with Breuer's patients about their sexual thoughts.



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