PBS documentary explores the early years of the father of psychoanalysis.
ALICE BURDICK SCHWEIGER
Special to the Jewish News
bile it's more than 100 years
since Sigmund Freud wrote The
Interpretation of Dreams, his
insights are still valuable and
valid," says David Grubin, who wrote, pro-
duced and directed the new PBS documen-
tary Young Dr. Freud.
"I wanted . to try and understand how he
came up with his ideas and see what connec-
tion they had to his own life and times."
In Young Dr. Freud, which airs 9-11 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 27, Grubin retraces the
early life of the seminal psychoanalyst whose
- revolutionary theories of the mind remain an
enduring part of today's culture.
The film begins at the end of the 19th centu-
ry, when Freud is deeply shaken over the death
of his 80-year-old father, Jacob Freud. Images
of his father, along with disturbing dreams and
half-forgotten memories, come rushing back.
"My father's death revolutionized my soul,"
says Freud, whose comments are voiced by
actor Liev Schreiber.
Freud's own words are used throughout the
film, as well as commentaries from prominent
psychoanalysts and scholars and re-creations
of seminal events. Blair Brown narrates.
Of Fantasy And Desire
The eldest of seven children, Freud was born
in 1856, grew up in Vienna and planned to
devote his life to science. At the University of
Vienna, he studied the anatomy of the brain,
looking for chemical or biological explana-
tions for psychological disorders.
At age 26 he fell in love with Martha Bernays,
and desperately wanted to marry her, but he
knew he couldn't support her from his work as a
scientist. So he decided to become a doctor.
While in medical school, Freud traveled to
Paris to study under Dr. Jean Charcot, whose
patients suffered from bizarre emotional prob-
lems doctors called "hysteria." Their physical
symptoms included facial tics and temporary
paralysis, and hypnosis seemed to offer tem-
The puzzle of hysteria piqued Freud's inter-
est, and by the time he returned to Vienna,
he was even more interested in problems of
the mind. After graduation from medical
school, he specialized in neurology and treat-
ed patients with 'nervous disorders."
While formulating his own theories, Freud
believed that hysteria was caused by repressed
childhood sexual abuse. For a short period, he
even imagined he had been sexually abused
by his own father.
Later, he realized it was untrue, and impli-
cated the power of fantasy and desires. He
began to practice the art of careful listening,
which was called "the talking cure."
Freud, who was obsessed with death and
dying and suffered from depression and
migraines, created his own treatment based
on free association and interpretation of
dreams, and analyzed himself. He concluded
that dreams are the gateway to understanding
the unconscious mind.
Although Freud wasn't raised an observant
Jew, he had a strong Jewish identity. On his
35th birthday, his father gave him the family
Bible, to remind him of his Jewish heritage.
Among the experts quoted in the film are
Dr. Morris Eagle, psychologist and author of
Recent Developments in Psychoanalysis: A
Allen recently took
on a top psychiatrist
in a verbal battle in front
of more than 800 people.
The Annie Hall filmmak-
er took part in a lecture
titled "Psychoanlaysis in
the Films of Woody Allen "
in New York's Kaufman
Fending off a stream of
suggestions on how psy-
choanalysis affected his life
and work, Allen sparred
with Dr. Gail Saltz, an
assistant professor of psy-
chiatry at New York
Presbyterian Hospital and a
regular contributor on
mental health issues for the
Today show on NBC.
Allen, whose films are full
of references to analysis and
slapstick sexual imagery,
proclaimed, "There is no
profound significance to any
of the dream sequences in
"I made it all up. After
eight years with one of my
analysts, I wanted to get up
from the couch and offer
my hand and say, 'Draw."'
He added, "My mother
said I was a sweet kid for
the first four years of my
life. But then I turned sour.
There was no traumatic
event. It was a mystery. I
can only attribute that to
an awareness of mortality,
seeing what you're involved
with, and I never recovered
The 66-year-old comedi-
an did concede that psychi-
atrists helped him through
difficult times and broke
up his days of isolation.
He said, , "It got
through periods of my life
when I was very unhappy
and was insecure.
"Just the act of having
someone to speak to, some-
one interested in my prob-
lems in some way was help-
fill to me."
— World Entertainment
instructs actors in a
dream sequence in
"Young Dr. Freud"