Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was born in the Austro-Hungarian town of Příbor to Galician Jewish parents. As the eldest of eight children he was invested with a great share of the family's hopes and wealth, his successful education culminating in a medical degree at the University of Vienna. Freud's academic career took him to Paris where he studied under neurologist Jean Martin Charcot, an early researcher into the nervous disorder then termed 'hysteria' and a proponent of hypnotherapy as a treatment. Although he would eventually dismiss hypnosis as unnecessary theatrics, Freud credited this period with shifting his focus from the neurological study of the brain towards the psychological study of the mind.
In 1886 he established his own medical practice in Vienna, allowing him to marry his long-term fiancée Martha Bernays (1861-1951). Over the next decade they had six children, while Freud was bringing to term his own form of psychic therapy. His 'psychoanalysis' was inspired by the work of elder colleague Joseph Breuer (1842-1925), who had developed a form of 'talking cure' while treating the nervous disorders of a patient he dubbed 'Anna O'. The two men were ultimately divided personally and professionally, their joint publication of Studies in Hysteria (1895) heralding the end of their partnership and the beginning of Freud's literary career.
Over the following years he published numerous works exploring the same ideas in ever greater depth, including The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901), and Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1905). As his reputation grew, Freud amassed a circle of followers in Vienna who sought and received training in his new 'school' of therapy. These disciples ranged from the devout to the divergent, some cravenly enshrining Freud's theories while others, such as influential psychologist Carl Jung, found their own paths to notoriety.
Freud continued to live and work in Vienna throughout the 1930s, while the Nazis rose to power in Germany and eventually annexed Austria. Inevitably, along with the rest of the city's Jewish population, he came to be targeted by the Gestapo and chose to enter a self-imposed exile. In June 1938 he boarded the Orient Express with his wife and daughter Anna, ultimately relocating to London. Freud died the following year of a morphine overdose – a suicide assisted by his physician, and spurred by the painful smoking-induced cancer which had afflicted him since the early 1920s. His house in Hampstead is now a museum dedicated to preserving his legacy, along with his vast collection of antiquities.