The Freudian Dog Complex

freud-with-dog

When you bring up the name Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, everyone has an opinion. Well today I am going to tell you a story about Freud that may leave you thinking about him in a different way.

One day, Dr. Freud decided to purchase an Alsatian shepherd named Wolf for his daughter Anna. He wanted her to take the dog on her evening walks through Vienna for protection. As it often happens with cute dogs, Freud fell in love with Wolf.

A few years later, he received two red chows. Now in his 70’s Dr. Freud became very close to one of the chows named Jofi. It wasn’t long before Dr. Freud began bringing him to sessions with his patients. Initially, Freud, a shy man brought Jofi to the sessions to keep himself calm. Over time, he noticed that Jofi calmed the patients as well and that they became more open in the sessions when Jofi was present.

Sadly, Jofi died in 1937. By this time the war had started and Freud and his family had to flee Vienna for London to escape the Nazis. After settling in England, Dr. Freud got another chow named Lun and continued to welcome his dog into his personal life and sessions with patients. After years of dealing with patient’s suffering and living through two World Wars, Freud took refuge in the simplicity of being a dog person.

When I heard this story about Sigmund Freud, I wondered if he could ever have imagined what he started by bringing a dog into the therapy sessions. I think he would be happy to see how the work of dogs has evolved and how all animals help to heal, calm and bring joy when doing therapy work. Freud once wrote” It really explains why one can love an animal like Jofi with such extraordinary intensity: affection without ambivalence, the simplicity of life free from the most unbearable conflicts of civilization, the beauty of an existence complete in itself.” Thanks to Dr. Freud and his dogs, there is a Grover and Doc today.


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