Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reel People: Viggo Morteson is Simgund Freud

The film is A Dangerous Method, which is directed by David Cronenberg, with a screenplay by Oscar winner Christopher Hampton, based on his own play (The Talking Cure) and the non-fiction book A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein by John Kerr.

Sigmund Freud

Sigismund Schlomo Freud was born in 1858. He was born in the town of Freiburg in the Austrian Empire (now the small town of Příbor in the Czech Republic).

Sigismund would become the first of eight children to his mother and father. His father, Jacob, 41 at the time of his birth, was a wool merchant and had two children to a previous marriage. His mother was 21. They were a Jewish family, who for the most of his life lived in a predominantly Catholic community. They were not wealthy, but valued education.

Early on in Sigismund's life, there family moved to Vienna, Austria due to international economic turmoil that caused his father to lose his job. Sigismund Freud would attend school, graduate with honors. Despite his interest in studying law, he became a member of the medical faculty at the University of Vienna upon graduation at the age of twenty-four.

This was also the same time period when Freud became a cigar smoker. A trademark habit of the doctor, which would late cause cancer for Freud.

Freud's time in his medical residency provided him the opportunity to work with many different people, including five months with Theodor Meynert a doctor of psychiatry, a field which Freud would later revolutionize.

But the part of his residency that seems the most influential was the final stint, when he pursued his neurological studies abroad in Paris, France under Jean Martin Charcot. Charcot specialized in hysteria as well as practiced the techniques of hypnosis. Freud was interested in much of the work that Charcot was doing, and neurological speciality practice.

After his residency, Freud would marry Martha Bernays (1886). Bernays was the granddaughter of a chief rabbi in Hamburg. They would go on to have 6 children: Mathilde (b. 1887); Jean-Martin (b. 1889); Oliver (b. 1891); Ernst (b. 1892); Sophie (b. 1893); Anna (b. 1895).

As it relates to Freud's family life, Carl Jung had been involved in rumors in the 1890s involving an affair that Freud had with his sister-in-law Minna Bernays, Martha's young sister. There is speculation even today regarding the nature of this relationship.

Freud in his neurological practice, had begun to determine that hypnosis was not a good medical treatment and instead began using what he called "the talking cure." This talking cure treatment method became the start of psychoanalyst, as Freud began to use talking to draw out repressed thoughts from his patients that were unconsciously impacting their mental status.

Interest regarding Freud's work gathered increasing interest, followers, and detractors, particularly as his work would be published. Early work included: The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901), and Three Essays On The Theory Of Sexuality (1905).

Probably the famous detractor and follower of Freud's work was Carl Jung who embraced many of Freud's ideas, but disagreed because of Jung's commitment to religion, which Freud viewed as unscientific. Jung also believed his method was analytical in he would take what naturally existed and the create categorical representations in the science of what was discovered. He criticized Freud for having theoretical ideas and then seeking out examples that suited his scientific intentions.

Freud's influence and ideas, whether praised or criticized would influence thoughts on gender roles, the influence on sex and sexual development, the creation of the concept of ego and id, religion, libido, cocaine, dreams, repression, and unconsciousness.

In 1923 Freud noticed a cancerous lesion in his mouth, largely believed to be related to his tobacco use. Freud continued to work hard and did much of his influential work during this period.

In 1938 the Germans came to occupy Vienna, and the Freud family, being Jewish was put under house arrest. Only through the influence of friends, were the Freud's permitted to leave Austria and move to London, England.

In 1939 Freud convinced his good friend and medical professional (also a refugee to London), Max Schur, to help Freud commit suicide due to the tremendous pain the cancer as well as the related surgeries had put him in. Schur administering lethal doses of morphine to Freud helped him commit suicide. He would die September 23, 1939 at the age of 83.

A Dangerous Method

The film A Dangerous Method occurs prior to WWI, and tells the story and interaction of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and one of Jung's students Sabina Speilrein. Speilrein, a psychologist is said to have influenced both Freud and Jung. Freud deriving his concept of "death drive" from her, and Jung developing his concept of "transformation" from her.

In addition to Viggo Mortensen playing Freud (in his third collaboration with David Cronenberg, this following A History of Violence and Eastern Promises), Michael Fassbender will play the part of Carl Jung, Keira Knighley will play the part of Sabina Speilrein.

Other stars include Vincent Cassel who will portray Otto Gross a young psychologist who studied under Freud, and Sarah Gaddon as Emma Jung, the wife of Carl.

Viggo Mortensen scored an Oscar nomination for a Russian mafia member in Eastern Promises, now as an Austrian doctor will he score another nomination and perhaps a win for his portrayal of this Reel (Real) Person?

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