Josef Breuer

Josef Breuer



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Josef Breuer was born in Vienna on 15th January 1842. His father, Leopold Breuer, taught religion in Vienna's Jewish community. Breuer's mother died when he was quite young, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother. He graduated from the Akademisches Gymnasium in 1858 and passed his medical exams in 1867.

Breuer, working under Ewald Hering at the military medical school in Vienna, was the first to demonstrate the role of the vagus nerve in the reflex nature of respiration. This changed the way scientists viewed the relationship of the lungs to the nervous system. The mechanism is now known as the Hering–Breuer reflex.

Breuer became a general practitioner in Vienna who specialised in treating patients who suffered from hysteria. Breuer was a friend of Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke and he introduced him to one of his research students, Sigmund Freud. As Peter Gay has pointed out: "Joseph Breuer, a successful, affluent, highly cultivated physician and eminent physiologist fourteen years his senior. The two men were were soon on the best of terms; Freud adopted Breuer as one in a succession of fatherly figures, and became a regular in the Breuer household, in some ways as good a friend to Breuer's charming and maternal wife Mathilde as to Breuer himself." (1)

Breuer became a general practitioner in Vienna who specialised in treating patients who suffered from hysteria. In December, 1880, Bertha Pappenheim, aged 21, became Breuer's patient. She had been very close to her father who had become seriously ill. Breuer used the pseudonym, Anna O, for his patient who was suffering from a series of health problems. This included paralysis of three limbs, severe and complicated disturbances of sight and speech, inability to take food, and a distressing nervous cough. "More interesting, however, was the presence of two distinct states of consciousness: one a fairly normal one, the other that of a naughty and troublesome child. It was a case of double personality." (2)

Josef Breuer came to the conclusion that her illness was linked to her "strong intellect" that was not being used to its maximum capacity. He wrote in his case-notes that Anna was "physically healthy... intelligence considerable, excellent memory, astonishingly acute gift for combinations and keen intuition". He added that her "strong intellect" could "digest solid nourishment" but she had not received this since she left school. Anna was therefore condemned to a dull existence amidst her strait-laced Jewish family. Anna had "a very monotonous life, wholly restricted to her family". She had a "passionate love for her father, who spoils her" and this had resulted in her being "sexually undeveloped". (3)

Anna‘s father died on 5th April 1881. As a result, she did not eat for days. Her symptoms continued to get worse and on 7th June she was admitted to a sanatorium, where she remained until November. After returning she continued to be treated by Breuer. He discovered that if he could persuade Anna to talk about her most innermost feelings, she felt better. Breuer likened the process to "chimney-sweeping". Breuer used the technique of "free-associating" to "clean out the mind". This involved "saying whatever came into one's mind, however ridiculous, apparently meaningless or shameful". By analysing the connections made by the patient it became possible to trace the symptoms from which they are suffering back to the source of the problem. (4)

Josef Breuer told Sigmund Freud about the case for the first time in November, 1883. Freud was fascinated by the case and had several long conversations with Breuer about this young woman of "exceptional cultivation and talents". Freud was especially interested in the methods he had used to help Anna. Breuer rightly claimed a quarter century later that his treatment of Anna contained "the germ cell of the whole of psychoanalysis." (5)

Breuer suggested that Freud should also be a general practitioner specialised in treating patients who suffered from hysteria. In April 1886, Freud rented rooms at 7 Rathausstrasse. He paid eighty gulden (£6) a month for it. It had a hall and two large rooms. One of them was divided by a curtain, so that the far half could be used as a bedroom. The flat was elegantly furnished, and all he had to buy was a medical couch. His friend, Josef Breuer, promised he would send him some of his patients. He also advised to "take low fees, treat a good many people gratis, and count on earning only five gulden a day for the first two years". (6)

Freud had very few patients during the first few years of his married life. His first patient was suffering from depression and Freud prescribed electrical treatment. He also gave lectures to young doctors on a wide variety of topics, including clinical neurology and medical uses of electricity. Freud took a close interest in Charcot's "latest investigations upon hysteria... He had proved, for instance, the genuineness of hysterical phenomena and their conformity to laws... the frequent occurrence of hysteria in men, the production of hysterical paralyses and constructures by hypnotic suggestion." (7)

Freud discussed these issues with Josef Breuer. Both men began to use hypnotic suggestion to treat patients suffering from hysteria. This was a term used at the time that meant "ungovernable emotional excess" in women. This included anxiety, nervous coughs, shortness of breath, migranes, contorted facial muscles, paralyzed limbs, tics, muteness, fainting, insomnia, irritability and promiscuity. Charcot believed hysteria to be a disturbance of the nervous system and claimed both men and women could suffer from hysteria. (8)

Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. Charcot's idea was you could use hypnosis not only to replicate the hysterical attack but to introduce suggestions to the hysteric that might enable a cure. Freud initially hypnotised patients by pressing his hand on their foreheads. However, Freud found, however, that he was not always able to induce hypnosis, either at all or deeply enough for his needs. (9)

In the autumn of 1892 Ilona Weiss became one of Freud's patients. To protect her identity, Freud always referred to her as "Elisabeth von R". The twenty-four year old daughter of a wealthy Hungarian family was suffering from pains in the legs and had difficulty in walking. Her doctor had examined her and could not find anything physically wrong with her legs and decided she was suffering from hysteria and she was sent to Freud. He decided to use a different method to treat her. Freud asked Elisabeth to lie down on his couch and close her eyes. Applying pressure to her forehead, he asked her to report faithfully whatever came into her mind. (10)

Elisabeth admitted that she was in love with her brother-in-law. However, she was able to suppress these feelings but did seek out his company and enjoyed long walks together. Her troubles began when her sister died and she developed the idea that he could become her husband. This "unacceptable thought" challenged everything that she believes about herself as a moral and loyal person. She resisted it and tried to force it out of her consciousness. It was because of these feelings that caused the pain in her legs. Freud believed the symptom can be traced back to the very walks that she had enjoyed with her brother-in-law before the death of her sister. Freud argues that far from being the degenerate fiends of popular myth, invariably the hysteric is too moral, punishing herself for her unacceptable desires. Elisabeth's treatment involved recovering her guilty thoughts from her unconscious and accepting it. This resulted in a full cure and in the spring of 1894 he attended "a private ball" where he saw "my former patient whirl past me in a lively dance". (11)

Sigmund Freud continued to experiment with encouraging patients to talk freely, without censorship or inhibition, about whatever ideas or memories occurred to them. Freud then used these comments to help discover the link with other events and feelings. During this process it was for the doctor to "decide what is and is not relevant: the patient must shape the discourse". This approach, "if it is to be effective, has to be understood as a partnership". (12)

In 1895 Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud published their book, Studies on Hysteria. It consists first of a reprint of the joint paper they had written, then five case histories, a theoretical essay by Breuer, and a concluding chapter on psychotherapy by Freud. The first case history, by Breuer, is that of Anna (Bertha Pappenheim). Freud contributed the other four cases, including Ilona Weiss (Elisabeth) and Fanny Moser (Emmy).

The book received mainly hostile reviews. The best one appeared in the Neue Freie Presse, the leading daily newspaper of Vienna, by Alfred von Bergner, Professor of the History of Literature in the University of Vienna. He said he read the case histories with admiration and understanding, and then added the significant prediction: "We dimly conceive the idea that it may one day became possible to approach the innermost secret of human personality... The theory itself is in fact nothing but the kind of psychology used by poets." (13)

Havelock Ellis, a doctor working in London, and a founder member of the Fabian Society, also praised the book, and agreed with Freud's views about the sexual cause of hysteria. However, most people were shocked by the idea and it took over thirteen years to sell 626 copies of the book. It was not a very profitable exercise and the authors only received 425 gulden between them (£18 each). During the writing of the book the two men disagreed about the role that sexual impulses played in hysteria. (14)

David Stafford-Clark has pointed out: "Despite the comparative success of their joint publication, Breuer and Freud never collaborated in any further published material.... This in fact heralded not only the break with Breuer but the beginning of the independent emergence of Freud's own concept of psychoanalysis. The basic difference of opinion between the two authors, upon which Freud was later to lay considerable emphasis, concerning the part played by sexual impulses in the causation of hysteria." (15)

Josef Breuer died on 20th June 1925.

Joseph Breuer, a successful, affluent, highly cultivated physician and eminent physiologist fourteen years his senior. The two men were were soon on the best of terms; Freud adopted Breuer as one in a succession of fatherly figures, and became a regular in the Breuer household, in some ways as good a friend to Breuer's charming and maternal wife Mathilde as to Breuer himself.

Freud's work - first with his friend and mentor Josef Breuer and then in his own practice - formed the basis for a radically different approach to hysterical illness. Studies on Hysteria (1893-5) offers the case studies of five hysterics suffering a variety of physical symptoms for which no physical reason could be found. These symptoms included hydrophobia (the fear of water, accompanied by the inability to drink) and limb paralysis. As well as providing fascinating insights into the phenomena that accompany hysteria, the Studies also show Freud's personal and professional transition. He stops being a physician offering physiological accounts of neurotic illness and becomes one who bases his practice on the search for psychological causes and solutions. The research biologist becomes the psychologist. Engaging with these early reflections on neurotic illness also suggests something of the collaborative nature of psychoanalysis, for the experiences of the hysterics with whom Freud works comes to shape the development of his psychoanalytic practice.

The clinical practice detailed in the Studies on Hysteria stems from Breuer's "cathartic method". In this method, therapeutic suggestions were made to the hysterical patient whilst they were under hypnosis. Breuer builds upon Charcot's use of hypnosis. But Breuer went further: under hypnosis, symptoms were traced to their source. This was a significant development, for once the source of the symptom was identified, its power to affect the hysteric's actions was undermined and the symptom disappeared.


Freud has related to me a fuller account than he described in his writings of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the end of this novel treatment. It would seem that Breuer had developed what we should nowadays call a strong counter-transference to his interesting patient. At all events he was so engrossed that his wife became bored at listening to no other topic, and before long she became jealous. She did not display this openly, but became unhappy and morose. It was a long time before Breuer, with his thoughts elsewhere, divined the meaning of her state of mind.

It provoked a violent reaction in him, perhaps compounded of love and guilt, and he decided to bring the treatment to an end. He announced this to Anna O, who was by now much better, and bade her good-bye. But that evening he was fetched back to find her in a greatly excited state, apparently as ill as ever. The patient, who according to him had appeared to be an asexual being and had never made any allusion to such a forbidden topic throughout the treatment, was now in the throes of an hysterical childbirth (pseudocyesis), the local termination of a phantom pregnancy that had been invisibly developing in response to Breuer's ministrations. Though profoundly shocked,
he managed to calm her down by hypnotizing her, and then, fled the house in a cold sweat. The next day he and his wife left for Venice to spend a second honeymoon, which resulted in the conception of a daughter; the girl born in these curious circumstances was nearly sixty years later to commit suicide in New York.

The poor patient did not fare so well as one might gather from Breuer's published account. Relapses took place, and she was removed to an institution in Gross Enzersdorf. A year after discontinuing the treatment, Breuer confided to Freud that she was quite unhinged and that he wished she would die and so be released from her suffering. She did, however, improve. A few years later Martha relates how "Anna O", who happened to be an old friend of hers and later related by marriage, visited her more than once. She was then pretty well in the daytime but still suffered from her hallucinatory states as evening drew on.

Anna O was not only highly intelligent but also extremely attractive in physique and personality; when removed to the sanatorium, she inflamed the heart of the psychiatrist in charge. Some years before she died she composed five witty obituary notices of herself for different periodicals. A very serious side, however, developed when she was thirty, and she became the first social worker in Germany, one of the first in the world. She founded a periodical and several institutes where she trained students. A major part of her life's work was given to women's causes and emancipation, but work for children also ranked high. Among her exploits were several expeditions to Russia, Poland, and Roumania to rescue children whose parents had perished in pogroms. She never married, and she remained very devoted to God.

(1) Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time (1989) page 32

(2) Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1961) page 202

(3) Josef Breuer, report on Bertha Pappenheim (1882)

(4) Beverley Clack, Freud on the Couch: A Critical Introduction to the Father of Psychoanalysis (2013) page 15

(5) Josef Breuer, letter to Auguste Forel (21st November, 1907)

(6) Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1961) page 141

(7) Sigmund Freud, Autobiography (1923) page 2

(8) Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Freud on Women (2002) page 1

(9) Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1961) page 210

(10) Beverley Clack, Freud on the Couch: A Critical Introduction to the Father of Psychoanalysis (2013) page 38

(11) Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer, Studies on Hysteria (1895) pages 160-161

(12) Beverley Clack, Freud on the Couch: A Critical Introduction to the Father of Psychoanalysis (2013) pages 39-40

(13) Alfred von Bergner, Neue Freie Presse (2nd December 1895)

(14) Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1961) page 224

(15) David Stafford-Clark, What Freud Really Said (1965) page 39


What Is Hysteria? The Past and Present

Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania.

Hysteria is a term used to describe emotional excess, but it was also once a common medical diagnosis. In layman's terms, hysteria is often used to describe emotionally charged behavior that seems excessive and out of control.

When someone responds in a way that seems disproportionately emotional for the situation, they are often described as hysterical. During the Victorian era, the term was often used to refer to a host of symptoms that were generally observed only in women.

While it was once considered a diagnosable condition, hysteria was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980. Today, those exhibiting hysterical symptoms might be diagnosed with a dissociative disorder or a somatic symptom disorder.

Hysteria can be defined as a feature of some conditions that involve people experiencing physical symptoms that have a psychological cause.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. No detailed bibliography of Breuer’s publications has ever been assembled, His scientific articles can easily be traced through the usual guides to the medical literature and, in particular, in the Cumulative Author Index to Psychological Index… (Boston, 1960). The Hering–Breuer reflex is described in “Die Selbststeuerung der Athmung durch den Nervus vagus” in Sitzungsb. d. k. Akad. d. Wissensch., Math. naturwissensch. Klasse Abtheilung II, 58 (1868), 909–937. Breuer’s first major articles on the labyrinth were “Ueber die Funktion der Bogengänge des Ohrlabyrinths,” in Medizinische Jahrbücher, 2nd series, 4 (1874), 72–124, and “Beiträge zur Lehre vom statischen Sinne (Gleichgewichtsorgan, Vestibularapparat des Ohrlabyrinths),” ibid., 5 (1875), 87–156. Breuer’s other articles on the labyrinth may be found with the aid of the bibliographic sources mentioned above or in the bibliographics to the article by Roth and the book by Camis cited below.

Breuer’s publications in the sphere of psychopathology, both written with Freud, were “Ueber den psychischen Mechanismus hysterischer phänomene (Vorläufige Mittheilung),” in Neurologisches Centralblatt, 12 (1893), 4–10, 43–47 and Studien über Hysterie (Leipzig–Vienna, 1895). The preliminary communication and the book are readily available in English translation as Vol. II of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, James Strachey, ed. (London, 1955).

Breuer’s brief autobiography, entitled simply Curriculum vitae, presumably was published in Vienna in 1925 (the actual publication bears no place, date, or publisher’s name). There is a photographic copy of this rare pamphlet in the library of the New York Academy of Medicine.

II. Secondary Literature. Apart from the brief autobiography mentioned above, the most detailed sketch of Breuer’s life is found in Hans Horst Meyer, “Josef Breuer,” in Anton Bettelheim, ed., Neue Österreichische Biographie (Zurich–Leipzig–Vienna, 1928), V, 30–47. Additional useful information is found in obituaries: Sigmund Freud, in Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalysis, 11 (1925), 255–256. translated in The Complete Psychological Works of Signmund Freud XIX, 279–280 A. de Kleyn, in Acta Otolaryngologica, 10 (1927), 167–171 and A. Kreidl, in Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift (1925), 1616–1618. The function of the labyrinth is a difficult and obscure topic. A good survey of it, as well as a clear idea of how pervasive and enduring Breuer’s contributions to the subject were, can be gained from Mario Camis, The Physiology of the Vestibular Apparatus (Oxford, 1930).

Freud’s many comments on Breuer’s role in the history of psychoanalysis may easily be located in The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. The evaluation of the contributions of Breuer and Freud to the founding of psychoanalysis follows that in P. F. Cranefield, “Josef Breuer’s Evaluation of His Contributions to Psychoanalysis,” in International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39 (1958), 319–322 the same article contains an important letter from Breuer discussing his contributions to psychoanalysis. A good deal of information about Breuer and Freud is found in Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (Vol. I, New York, 1953). Jones’s book must be used with care, however, since its impressive quantity of information is not always matched by accuracy either of fact or of interpretation.

The most recent detailed biographical article on Breuer is E. H. Ackerknecht, “Josef Breuer,” in Neue Österreichische Biographie ab 1815 (Vienna–Munich–Zurich, 1963), XV, 126–130. Other recent articles include J. E. Gedo et al., “Studies on Hysteria a Methodological Evaluation,” in Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 12 (1964), 734–751 N. Roth, “The Place of Josef Breuer in Medical History,” in Comprehensive Psychiatry, 5 (1964), 322–326 N. Schlessinger et al., “The Scientific Style of Breuer and Freud in the Origins of Psychoanalysis,” in Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association15 (1967), 404–422 and J. Sullivan, “From Breuer to Freud,” in Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic review, 46 (1959), 69–90. The Gedo and Schlessinger articles attempt to evaluate Breuer’s scientific and “cognitive” style via a consideration of what little is known of his life and via an analysis of a few of his publications. In these articles one finds a rather mechanical analysis of psychological propositions in terms of their “remoteness from concrete clinical data.” The authors’ remark that Breuer’s work was “limited by deficient scientific reality testing” suffices to show the dangers of the use of unsophisticated ideas about the nature of scientific reasoning and creativity.

For help in obtaining previously unpublished information contained in the above biography of Breuer, I am deeply indebted to the later Dr. Walter Federn, to Professor Erwin H. Ackerknecht, to Professor Erna Lesky, to Dr. Kurt Eissler and to Breuer’s granddaughter, Mrs. Felix Ungar.


Josef Breuer - History

he now classic early psychoanalytical publication Studien über Hysterie (Studies on Hysteria) of 1895 had as joint-authors, Breuer & Freud. Josef Breuer, 1842-1925, is to be considered the first to have employed proto-psychoanalytic technique therein, a compliment paid him by co-author Freud in the "Studies" and in the later (1925) An Autobiographical Study and elsewhere. Breuer's contribution had come from the opening case-history, that of "Fräulein Anna O." Four further case-histories were presented by Freud, and all five are here briefly detailed below.

"Fräulein Anna O.": this highly intelligent twenty-one-year old patient had, from 1880-82, proven resistant to suggestion in the "hypnoid" state, and her many distressing symptoms persisted. One day when Breuer called to treat her with text-book hypnosis and suggestion, she had apparently just awoken from an autonomous hypnotic state of her own, and the classic "reminiscences" were partially still with her. As she related fresh material to Breuer, he noted her reduced anxiety state [owing to catharsis, the term coined by Breuer for emotional release and "abreaction" of anxiety], and he decided to call regularly at a time suitable to profit from his new observation. As the patient became more adept at the treatment, one day Breuer heard her describe the very first occurrence of one of her hysterical symptoms, upon which the symptom disappeared never to return [though there were relapses with alternative symptoms, and she even required temporary internment at a Clinic in Gross Enzerdorf]. "Anna O." called the new procedure her "talking cure" or "chimney-sweeping", and she thus deserves credit for the discovery of this, the cathartic method. Eventually she was able to relate the reminiscence of having been at her dieing father's bedside, and holding his hand as he died, whereupon her arm had become (hysterically) paralysed. With the memory returned, the paralysis disappeared. Breuer was unable or unwilling to link the observations to any sexual aetiology [in a repressive society], nor was he equipped to forge a new psychology of Unbewussten Denken(Unconscious Mind). Enter Sigmund Freud, as Breuer's younger colleague and co-author.

"Frau Emmy von N.": this middle-aged woman's treatment with Freud for tics and hallucinations began in May 1889, with Freud still a relative novice of less than two years as a hypnotherapist. Freud"s new observations here were largely such as undermined the existing procedures, for example when he discovered that his patient tended to appear to accept the physician's suggestions, though in fact merely as a pretence to please him. With a relatively poor performance as a hypnotist - and quickly recognising the unproductive nature of endlessly repeated suggestion - Freud remained primed for new avenues, in addition to his insights into Breuer's "Anna O." case. From "Frau Emmy" - and also another patient ["Cäcilie M.," who suddenly flung her arms around his neck and demonstrated a desire to hug him] - Freud perceived the emotional importance of the growing bond between patient and therapist [later termed "transference" relationship, though shunned by Breuer, especially with regard to the reciprocal notion, of a "counter-transference" of the therapist for the patient].

"Fräulein Elisabeth von R.": in the autumn of 1892 Freud undertook this case, which proved to be yet another resistant to hypnosis. Here for the first time Freud dispensed with any attempt at hypnosis, and employed what he would later call his "concentration technique" or "psychical analysis." The patient would lay down, close her eyes and attempt to concentrate on a particular symptom and its associated memories. With the passage of sessions, he also introduced the new injunction to "tell all" and ignore any censorial thoughts, which latter he had frequently become aware of in his patient's reports. "Free association" was probably first conceptualised in this case, and again, as with the earlier case of Frau Emmy von N., the credit was partly due to the clever patient.

"Miss Lucy R.": an English governess in Vienna, this patient (also in 1892) was eventually seen to have a forbidden attachment to her employer, and the symptoms of her neurosis were the result of strong contrary psychological forces attempting to hide/remove the forbidden truth. It is here that Freud, for the first time, introduces notions of the importance of repressing forces in the mind. See: Biographer Ernest Jones (1953, Chap. 11, "The Breuer Period, 1882-94"). Jones (1953, Chap. 12) would go on to identify here Freud's first use of the term verdrängt (repressed). On a technical level, the "Lucy R." sessions also taught Freud the importance of every trivial symptom, even the smell of a burnt pudding, which could be tracked back to significant associations in the patient's past and (internal) present.

"Katharina": an eighteen-year old serving girl/daughter of inn-keeper, who Freud met whilst on holiday in the Alps in the early 1890s. Having noted Freud"s "Dr." in the inn register, the "well built girl with her unhappy look" waylaid him with a request for help with nervous and breathless symptoms. Freud decided to ignore hypnosis/analysis, and to try "a simple talk" with the hope of "a lucky guess," albeit based upon his extensive previous experience with "breathless young women" and their "virginal mind . when faced for the first time with the world of sexuality," ("Studies on Hysteria," Case 5). The girl's symptoms had first occurred two years earlier, whilst she was living away at the inn of her aunt and uncle. Freud's method would today fall foul of the later injunction to not lead the patient's train of thought - "Perhaps you saw something naked?" - he enquired when the uncle's room entered the story. But these were pioneering times, and Freud's "guess" appears to have been correct. There had indeed been a "scene of discovery" of a sexual act it had made a traumatic impact upon the unprepared teenaged girl, and the "simple talk" appears to have been therapeutic [and pro bono].

A final chapter of the "Studies," also provided by Freud, was on "Psychotherapy." This surveyed the various new developments in technique, from hypnosis and suggestion, to instruction and listening the insisting on full disclosure of memories, uncensored/free association and also introduced the new theoretical insights. These now gave attention to "defence" against anxiety the role of repression of traumatic experiences, and the conversion of psychic energy/anxiety to unconscious/somatic symptoms. The [unwelcome] new emphasis on a sexual aetiology, and on the possibility of "transference relationships" between patient and therapist, was wholly anathema to the elderly and culturally more conservative Breuer, and made final the break between the two colleagues and friends. Thirty years later, in 1925, the death of Breuer would coincide with Freud's An Autobiographical Study , in which he would accord full honours to his old colleague and to the crucial case of "Fräulein Anna O."

Related Material

Bibliography

Breuer, J. and Freud, S. Studien über Hysterie (Studies on Hysteria) . Fischer-Taschenbuch Verlag. [1895]1973.

Freud, S. An Autobiographical Study . S. E., Vol. XX.

Jones, Ernest, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud . Vol. 1, Chap. 11, "The Breuer Period, 1882-94" Chap. 12, "Early Psychopathology, 1890-97". London: Hogarth Press, 1953. Abridged edn. 1 vol. New York: Basic Books, 1961. Pelican Books Paperback. 1964, 1993.


Josef Breuer

Austrian physician and physiologist who was acknowledged by Sigmund Freud and others as the principal forerunner of psychoanalysis. Breuer found, in 1880, that he had relieved symptoms of hysteria in a patient, Bertha Pappenheim, called Anna O. in his case study, after he had induced her to recall unpleasant past experiences under hypnosis. He concluded that neurotic symptoms result from unconscious processes and will disappear when these processes become conscious. The case of Anna O. was important because it introduced Freud to the cathartic method (the “talking cure”) that was pivotal in his later work.

Breuer described his methods and results to Freud and referred patients to him. With Freud he wrote Studien über Hysterie (1895), in whic Austrian physician and physiologist who was acknowledged by Sigmund Freud and others as the principal forerunner of psychoanalysis. Breuer found, in 1880, that he had relieved symptoms of hysteria in a patient, Bertha Pappenheim, called Anna O. in his case study, after he had induced her to recall unpleasant past experiences under hypnosis. He concluded that neurotic symptoms result from unconscious processes and will disappear when these processes become conscious. The case of Anna O. was important because it introduced Freud to the cathartic method (the “talking cure”) that was pivotal in his later work.

Breuer described his methods and results to Freud and referred patients to him. With Freud he wrote Studien über Hysterie (1895), in which Breuer’s treatment of hysteria was described. Later disagreement on basic theories of therapy terminated their collaboration.

Breuer’s earlier work dealt with the respiratory cycle, and in 1868 he described the Hering-Breuer reflex involved in the sensory control of inhalations and exhalations in normal breathing. In 1873 he discovered the sensory function of the semicircular canals in the inner ear and their relation to positional sense or balance. He practiced medicine and was physician to many members of the Viennese medical faculty. . more


Biography of Josef Breuer

Josef Breuer (1842-1925) studied Medicine at the University of Vienna and during his first years of professional practice worked as an assistant to Johann von Oppolzer and later to Karl Hering, a physiologist known for his studies on visual perception and eye movements.

Breuer made important contributions in the field of neurophysiology . During his collaboration with Hering he described the role of the vagus nerve in the respiratory response this would give rise to the concept of the "reflection of Hering-Breuer", which is still valid today.

He was also one of the first to propose that the balance depends on the movement of fluid in the semicircular canals of the inner ear and the information that the brain receives in relation to these movements.

During a good part of his life Breuer worked as a family doctor and as a personal doctor of many intellectuals living in Vienna, among them the philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano. He was also professor of physiology at the University of Vienna, where instructed Sigmund Freud, with whom he would collaborate later .


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Dr. Josef Breuer

Josef Breuer (January 15, 1842 – June 20, 1925) was an Austrian physician whose works lay the foundation of psychoanalysis.

Born in Vienna, his father, Leopold Breuer, taught religion in Vienna's Jewish community. Breuer's mother died when he was quite young, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother and educated by his father until the age of eight. He graduated from the Akademisches Gymnasium of Vienna in 1858 and then studied at the university for one year, before enrolling in the medical school of the University of Vienna. He passed his medical exams in 1867 and went to work as assistant to the internist Johann Oppolzer at the university.

A close friend and collaborator with Sigmund Freud, Breuer is perhaps best known for his work with Anna O. (the pseudonym of Bertha Pappenheim), a woman suffering with symptoms of paralysis, anaesthesias, and "disturbances of vision and speech". (Zangwill[citation needed])

Breuer observed that her symptoms were reduced or disappeared after she described them to him. Anna O. humorously called this procedure chimney sweeping. She also coined the more serious appellation for this form of therapy, the talking cure, which is widely regarded as the basis of Freudian psychoanalysis. (Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time, pp. 65�)

Freud and Breuer documented their discussions of Anna O., along with other case studies, in their 1895 book, Studies on Hysteria. These discussion of Breuer's treatment of Anna O. became "a formative basis of Freudian theory and psychoanalytic practice especially the importance of fantasies . hysteria . and the concept and method of catharsis which were Breuer's major contributions." (Zangwill[citation needed])

Breuer, working under Ewald Hering at the military medical school in Vienna, was the first to demonstrate the role of the vagus nerve in the reflex nature of respiration. This was a departure from previous physiological understanding, and changed the way scientists viewed the relationship of the lungs to the nervous system. The mechanism is now known as the Hering-Breuer reflex.[1]

Independent of each other[2] in 1873, Breuer and the physicist and mathematician Ernst Mach discovered how the the sense of balance (i.e., the perception of the head’s imbalance) functions: that it is managed by information the brain receives from the movement of a fluid in the semicircular canals of the inner ear. That the sense of balance depends on the three semicircular canals was discovered in 1870 by the physiologist Friedrich Goltz, but Goltz did not discover how the balance-sensing apparatus functions.

In 1894, Breuer was elected a Corresponding Member of the Vienna Academy of Science. (Robert S. Steele, Freud and Jung p. 50)

Breuer married Mathilde Altmann in 1868, and they had five children. His daughter Dora later committed suicide rather than be deported by the Nazis. Likewise, one of his granddaughters died at their hands.

A series of meetings between Josef Breuer and Friedrich Nietzsche was fictionally created in the book When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin D. Yalom.

The 1968 TV film Prescription: Murder, which introduced the character of Columbo, begins with the murderer (Gene Barry), an arrogant psychiatrist, stumping party guests in a game of Botticelli by choosing Josef Breuer.

In 1992, the relationship between Josef Breuer and Anna O. was fictionalized in the play "The Mystery of Anna O". Spanning 3 time periods, the play questions whether Anna O was actually Bertha Pappenheim. The play was written by Jerome Coopersmith.

Zwei Fälle von Hydrophobie. In: Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift 18 (1868). Sp. 178 f., 210-213.

Das Verhalten der Eigenwärme in Krankheiten. In: Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift 18 (1868). Sp. 982-985, 998-1002.

Die Selbststeuerung der Athmung durch den Nervus vagus. In: Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien, math.-naturw. Kl. 58/2 (1868), S. 909-937.

Bemerkungen zu Senator's �iträge zur Lehre von der Eigenwärme und dem Fieber“. In: Arch. path. Anat., Berlin 46 (1969), S. 391 f.

�r Bogengänge des Labyrinths. In: Allg. Wien. med. Ztg. 18 (1873), S. 598, 606.

�r die Function der Bogengänge des Ohrlabyrinthes. In: Med. Jb., Wien 1874. S. 72-124.

Zur Lehre vom statischen Sinne (Gleichgewichtsorgan). Vorläufige Mittheilung. In: Anz. Ges. Ärzte, Wien 1873. Nr. 9 (17. Dezember 1873), S. 31-33.

Beiträge zur Lehre vom statischen Sinne (Gleichgewichtsorgan, Vestibularapparat des Ohrlabyrinths). Zweite Mittheilung. In: Med. Jb., Wien 1875. S. 87-156.

Neue Versuche an den Ohrbogengängen. In: Arch. Physiol. 44 (1889), S. 135-152.

�r die Funktion der Otolithen-Apparate. In: Arch. Physiol. 48 (1891), S. 195-306.

�r Brommastitis. In: Wien. med. Presse 35 (1894), Sp. 1028.

�r Bogengänge und Raumsinn. In: Arch. Physiol. 68 (1897), S. 596-648.

Die Krisis des Darwinismus und die Teleologie. Vortrag, gehalten am 2. Mai 1902. In: Vorträge und Besprechungen. (1902), S. 43-64. Nachdruck der Ausgabe 1902: Edition diskord, T࿋ingen 1986.

�r Galvanotropismus bei Fischen. In: Zbl. Physiol., Wien 16 (1902), S. 481-483.

Studien ﲾr den Vestibularapparat. In: Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien, math.-naturw. Kl. 112/3(1903), S. 315-394.

�r den Galvanotropismus (Galvanotaxis) bei Fischen. In: Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien, math.-naturw. Kl. 114/3 (1905), S. 27-56.

�r das Gehörorgan der Vögel. In: Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien, math.-naturw. Kl. 116/3 (1907), S. 249-292.

Bemerkungen zu Dr. H. Abels Abhandlung „ﲾr Nachempfindungen im Gebiete des kinästhetischen und statischen Sinnes“. In: Zschr. Psychol. Physiol. Sinnesorg. 45 (1907), 1. Abt., S. 78-84.

�r Ewald's Versuch mit dem pneumatischen Hammer (Bogengangsapparat). In: Zschr. Sinnesphysiol. 42 (1908), S. 373-378.

Curriculum vitae [1923]. In: Dr. Josef Breuer 1842-1925. Wien o. J. [1927]. S. 9-24.

Ein telepathisches Dokument. In: Umschau 28 (1924). S. 215 f.

Josef Breuer / Rudolf Chrobak: Zur Lehre vom Wundfieber. Experimentelle Studie. In: Med. Jb., Wien 22/4 (1867). S. 3-12.

Josef Breuer / Sigmund Freud: �r den psychischen Mechanismus hysterischer Phänomene. Vorläufige Mittheilung. In: Neurol. Zbl. 12 (1893), S. 4-10, 43-47 zugleich in: Wien. med. Blätter 16 (1893), S. 33-35, 49-51.

Sigmund Freud / Josef Breuer: Studien ﲾr Hysterie. Franz Deuticke, Leipzig + Wien 1895. Neudruck: 6. Auflage. Fischer, Frankfurt a. M. 1991. ISBN 3596104467

Josef Breuer / Alois Kreidl: �r die scheinbare Drehung des Gesichtsfeldes während der Einwirkung einer Centrifugalkraft. In: Arch. Physiol. 70 (1898), S. 494-510.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach / Josef Breuer: Ein Briefwechsel. 1889-1916. Bergland-Verlag, Wien 1969

^ Breuer, Josef (1842-1925) | Encyclopedia of Psychology | Find Articles at BNET at www.findarticles.com

^ Hawkins, J.E. and Schacht, J. "The Emergence of Vestibular Science" (Part 8 of "Sketches of Otohistory") in "Audiology and Neurotology," April 2005.

Cranefield, Paul F. "Breuer, Josef." In the Dictionary of Scientific Biography , edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie, vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981, ISBN 0-684-80588-X

Hirschmüller, Albrecht. The Life and Work of Josef Breuer: Physiology and Psychoanalysis. New York: New York University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-8147-3427-8


Timeline of Sigmund Freud

1856 – (May 6) Sigismund Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia, now part of the Czech Republic, to parents Jakob and Amalia. At the age of 40, Jakob already had two children from a previous marriage, but Sigismund was the 21-year-old Amalia's firstborn.

1860 – After the failure of his father's business due to economic woes, the Freud family moved to Vienna, Austria, and settled in the Jewish neighborhood of Leopoldstadt.

1865 – Began attending the Gymnasium.

1873 – Graduated summa cum laude from secondary school and began studying medicine at the University of Vienna.

1875 – Changed his first name from Sigismund to Sigmund.  

1881 – Received his doctorate degree in medicine.

1884 – Began studying the physical and psychological effects of cocaine.  

1885 – Worked with Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpetriere Hospital on hysteria and hypnosis.

1886 – Began his own private practice and married Martha Bernays.

1887 – Daughter Mathilda (1887-1978) was born, and he first met Wilhelm Fliess.

1889 – Son Jean Martin (1889-1967) was born. The boy was named in honor of Freud's early mentor, Jean-Martin Charcot.  

1891 – Son Oliver (1891-1969) was born.

1892 – Josef Breuer describes the case of Anna O. with Freud. His son Ernst (1892-1970) was also born.

1893 – Began formulating his seduction theory. Daughter Sophie (1893-1920) was born.

1895 – Published Studies on Hysteria with Breuer. Daughter Anna Freud (1895-1982) was born.

1896 – First used the term psychoanalysis in Zur Ätiologie der Hysterie. His father, Jakob, died the same year.​

1901 – Published The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.

1905 – Published Three Essays on Sexuality.

1906 – Began correspondence with Carl Jung.  

1907 – Freud and Jung met face-to-face.

1908 – The first International Congress of Psychoanalysis was held in Salzburg.

1909 – Freud made his first and only visit to the United States along with Carl Jung and Sandor Ferenczi. He had been invited by G. Stanley Hall to present a series of guest lectures at Clark University.  

1913 – Jung broke from Freud and psychoanalysis.   Freud's book Totem and Taboo was published.

1920 – Published Beyond the Pleasure Principle, which introduced his concept of the death instinct.

1922 – His grandson, the noted artist Lucian Freud, was born.

1923 – Published The Ego and the Id and was diagnosed with jaw cancer.

1930 – Freud's mother died. Civilization and its Discontents was published.

1933 – Corresponded with Albert Einstein.   The Nazis publicly burned some of Freud's books because he was Jewish.

1938 – Youngest daughter Anna Freud was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo, so Freud moved to London with his wife and Anna to escape the Nazis.


Breuer History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Breuer was carried to England in the enormous movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Breuer family lived in Devon. The name comes from the Norman area of Brovera or Brueria, now Breviare, near Caen, in Normandy. In its more obvious Old English derivation, the name indicates the bearer is a professional brewer of beers or ales, and stems from the root breowan, of the same meaning.

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Early Origins of the Breuer family

The surname Breuer was first found in Devon where they were found "at the time of the Domesday Survey and founded Tor Abbey." [1] Another source provides more detail. "Of 32 Praemonstratensian monasteries in England, that of Torre, founded and endowed by William de Brewer in 1196, was by far the richest it was dedicated to Our Holy Saviour, the Virgin Mary, and the Holy Trinity. " [2]

Henry de Briwere is generally thought to be one of the first recorded there, held five fees in Devon during the reign of King Stephen (1135-1154.) [3]

"The Abbey of Dunkeswell, [Devon] sheltered among the neighbouring hills, was founded in 1201 by William Lord Briwere. Two years previously, he had acquired the manor of Dunkeswell, and this formed part of the endowment of the Abbey, with Briwere's lands in Wolford and at Uffculme. Dunkeswell was colonized by monks from Ford, and the convent of that place was liberal of its gifts to the daughter house. There were also other donors, so that the Abbey had a very fair start in life. Dunkeswell was chosen by the founder as his burial-place in 1227, and it is presumed that his wife was also buried there. Not long since, two stone coffins were found within the ruins of the Abbey Church, one

containing the bones of a man, and the other those of a woman and these are believed to have been the remains of Lord and Lady Briwere. All the bones were placed in one of the coffins, and reinterred." [4]

"Tawstock used, in the common talk of the countryside, to be regarded as having the finest manor, the richest rectory, and the most stately residence at any rate in North Devon. William Lord Briwere held it in the reign of Henry II., and gave it to his daughter on her marriage with Robert, Earl of Leicester. " [4]

William Brewer, Briwere or Bruer (d. 1226), was Baron and judge, the son of Henry Brewer (Dugdale, Baronage), who was "sheriff of Devon during the latter part of the reign of Henry II, and was a justice itinerant in 1187. He bought land at Ilesham in Devon, and received from the king the office of forester of the forest of Bere in Hampshire. When Richard left England, in December 1189, he appointed Brewer to be one of the four justices to whom he committed the charge of the kingdom. During the reign of John, Brewer held a prominent place among the king's counsellors. His name appears among the witnesses of the disgraceful treaty made with Philip at Thouars in 1206. He died in 1226, having assumed, probably when actually dying, as was not infrequently done, the habit of a monk at Dunkeswell, and was buried there in the church he had founded. During the reigns of John and Henry III he acquired great possessions. " [5]

Another noted source gives insight into St. Breward or Simon Ward, Cornwall and the aforementioned William Brewer. "According to popular opinion, as well as historical records, this parish derived its name from a warlike bishop, whose name it bears, and by whom its church was founded. William Brewer, who was consecrated Bishop of Exeter in 1224, was the son of Lord Brewer, Baron Odecomb in Somersetshire." [6]


Watch the video: Studies in Hysteria - Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer