Author: Mark Edmundson
Freud and Hitler were in the same place in their life on at least two occasions. While Freud was already a well established psychoanalyst Hitler was lonely and homeless, in 1909 Vienna. But in time Hitler emerged as a triumphal Nazi leader while the world renowned scientist was facing danger as a Jew after events at Anschluss unfolded.
The author revisits Freud’s major psychoanalytic works. In 1938, Freud is 82, fragile, and suffers from a cancer in its advanced stage. Hitler forced annexation of Austria and took it under Nazi Germany’s national flag. Facing violence on the street as well as looting in his own home by local Nazis, Freud never stopped working. For him it was not a surprise to see the rise of fascism because he sets fascism into psychoanalytic frame work. In his theory, he argues that infantile human mind, that we carry with us all our lives, in particular we yearns for authority figures, which fertilises the ground for tyrannical governments and authoritarians. It also gives rise to religious fundamentalism. So much so, for Freud, the rise and popularity of Hitler in 1938 Vienna was not unpredictable.
To protect his family, Freud fled from Austria to England where he had to deal with a cancer that had eaten him away physically, but his commitment to his final work ‘Moses and monotheism’ was as strong as ever. Freud firmly believe in atheism ground and held no bias towards any religions, including Judaism. Freud was fully award that ‘Moses and monotheism’ would be regarded as controversial by most Jews as he sought to rewrite some religious stories. But he was not deterred. He was a courageous man living in a period of peril.
It’s not an easy reading but worth the effort.