"an expert in the effects that proceed from the affections of the nose and the cavities adjacent to it"
Wilhelm Fliess in the early-1890's
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumWilhelm Fliess in the early-1890's - Credit: Freud Museum London

   Wilhelm Fliess (1858-1928), a German physician specialising in disorders of the ear, nose and throat, became Freud's close friend and confidant following his alienation from Josef Breuer (See note to page 80).  They shared a fascination with the sexual dimension of nervous ailments; Fliess was convinced of a fundamental connection between the nasal and genital organs.  He reasoned that surgery performed on the nose might be of some benefit to psycho-sexual disorders. 

   Freud allowed Fliess to treat not only his own nasal passages, with a mixture of cauterisation and cocaine, but those of several amongst his patients.  Famously, the nervous ailments of one Emma Eckstein (1865-1924) led her from Freud's couch to the scalpel of Fliess, whose botched surgery led to infection and blood loss which might well have killed her but for the intervention of a specialist.

Excerpts from 'The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904', (1985)