Vienna General Hospital

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Originally a hospice for the poor, Vienna General Hospital (Allemeines Krankenhaus) was dedicated by Emperor Joseph II in 1784. With about two thousand beds and a design with courtyards and open spaces, the hospital by the 1870s had become one of Europe's leading teaching hospitals, with new and expanding departments and clinics.

After receiving his medical degree in March 1881, Freud was able for a time to continue his research in Ernst Brücke's physiology laboratory, where he also worked as a demonstrator for several semesters. But because Freud had limited financial resources, his hopes of building a career in research were misplaced, and Brücke's attempts to obtain a research position for him in laboratories in Graz and Prague proved fruitless. After becoming engaged to Martha Bernays in June 1882, Freud accepted Brücke's advice to give up research in favor of a more remunerative career as a physician. A month later Freud began his clinical training at the Vienna General Hospital.

Freud spent three years at the hospital and trained in many of its different departments. He worked in surgery (July to September 1882) and studied internal medicine under Hermann Nothnagel (October 1882 to March 1883). His early training in psychiatry was under Theodor Meynert (April to October 1883). Freud subsequently trained in the dermatology clinic and was assigned to the ward for syphilitic patients. At first an unpaid trainee, Freud was appointed assistant physician (Sekundararzt ) while under Meynert, and in early 1885 he temporarily replaced Franz Scholz as head of the department of nervous diseases and the liver. At the same time, he continued his researches in brain anatomy and pathology in Meynert's laboratory. He published numerous articles in clinical neurology, on brain pathologies, and on cocaine, and for extra income he wrote abstracts of articles in international medical journals.

Freud specialized in nervous diseases on the advice of Josef Breuer, and in June 1885 he was appointed privatdozent in neuropathology. About the same time, with Brücke's support, he obtained a postgraduate travel grant to study in Paris at Salpêtrière Hospital with Jean Martin Charcot. He subsequently concluded his clinical training in Berlin at Adolf Baginsky's pediatric clinic. After his return to Vienna, he established a private practice as a neurologist in April 1886 and married in September of the same year.

Eva Laible

See also: "Autobiographical Study, An"; Breuer, Josef; Brücke, Ernst Wilhelm von; Meynert, Theodor; Vienna, University of.


Freud, Sigmund. (1960). Letters. New York: McGraw-Hill.

. (1960b [1885]). Curriculum vitae. In Josef Gicklhorn and René Gicklhorn, Sigmund Freuds akademische laufbahn im lichte der dokumente. Vienna: Urban und Schwarzenberg.

Hirschmüller, Albrecht. (1991). Freuds begegnung mit der psychiatrie. Tübingen, Germany: Diskord.