Sigmund Freud and his cocaine addiction

Cocaine became a commonly used drug in the 1970s, especially in nightlife.

However, long before it was a known drug in the night world, the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud was already using it frequently.

Sigmund Freud and cocaine

Every time he attended a party he would dress in his finest clothes and sniff a few grams “to free his tongue,” as he wrote to his fiancee in a letter sent in 1886. However, what seemed to the beginning an innocuous time habit, it became an addiction that troubled the mind and judgment of the Austrian genius.

Cocaine: from South America to Vienna

Freud wrote about his experiences with cocaine in an essay he titled About the cakeBut until very recently, these stories had been hidden. This twelve-year stage during which the psychoanalyst used cocaine was brilliantly summed up in the book An Anatomy of Addiction (“Anatomy of Addiction”), by Howard markel, Professor of University of Michigan. This essay tells about Sigmund Freud’s relationship with cocaine. Freud gradually increased his use because he believed that cocaine was a kind of elixir of life. Although the narrative thread of Markel’s work is the history of drugs, the author delves into the origins of cocaine, which was widely present in Europe and the United States, and which, decades later, was going to be declared illegal.

Thus, we know that the explorers of South America from the beginning of century XIX they were those who took to their countries of origin the coca leaves that so much fury caused between the tribes and the indigenous population, those who used to hide them. European and American explorers wanted to find out what were these magical properties that offered the natives immunity against fatigue and hunger. Chemical experts from many parts of the world inspected and examined the plant until in 1860 they were able to detect and isolate the cocaine alkaloid, Responsible for the stimulation of the nervous system which apparently conferred these benefits.

Could cocaine be therapeutic?

At this time, Freud decided to devote his efforts to the study of the therapeutic uses of cocaine, With the aim of increasing its prestige with the Viennese scientific community. Previous experiments had wrongly shown that cocaine could cure morphine addiction (widely used at the time in a traditional way to relieve pain). On this theoretical basis, Freud began to treat the stimulant in a patient with chronic pain. Later, it was he himself who decided to try cocaine. Freud realized he had one remarkable effectiveness in preventing anxiety and increasing libido. Soon Freud’s sympathy for cocaine was complete, and he prescribed it to his family and friends as a custom, to “turn bad days into good and good into better.”

Freud was convinced that his experiences with cocaine would revolutionize the world of mental health and that it would propel him to glory. “Whatever the reason, to calm a migraine, abdominal pain, sinusitis or a nostalgic mood, Freud used cocaine to relieve the discomfort,” reveals Markel. No one was aware of the risks associated with white dust. Anyone Can Buy Cocaine From Drugstores Without Any Control Or PrescriptionAnd marketers have taken advantage of the substance’s rise to make it a staple in a myriad of ointments, juices, cigarettes, and even food items, like some margarines.

Coca-Cola, Mariani Wine and other uses of cocaine

It is true that before the emergence of the big drug bosses and the cartels, the Italian-French chemist Angelo Mariani he made a huge fortune from a blend of coca leaf extracts and Bordeaux wine. the Vi Mariani, As it was baptized, had such a huge impact to the point of being, for many years, the favorite drink of great personalities like Jules Verne, Thomas Edison, Alexander Dumas and Pope Leo XIII.

His ability to “strengthen body and mind,” as the press advertisements of the time proclaimed, may have attracted the curiosity of John Syth Pemberton, an American veteran addicted to morphine. Pemberton, who resided at Atlanta, Patented a tonic similar to that of Mariani which he baptized vi Coke French. This product evolved from an alcoholic beverage to a non-alcoholic beverage after the Dry law In the state of Georgia, Keep on screaming Coca Cola.

Awareness of the dangers of drugs

It would be many more years before science understood the catastrophic consequences of abuse in cocaine use. Freud stopped taking it in 1896, at the age of 40. He began to experience tachycardias and noticed that his intellectual performance significantly decreased. The cocaine-specific alkaloid was the cause of his friend’s untimely death and may have killed several of his patients. Freud, for a few years, became such a regular consumer that his nose was red and wet. To put an end to the bad habit of drinking, he tried to keep busy as long as possible: he got up at six in the morning, saw twelve patients, read and wrote until the middle of the night.

Freud managed to rehabilitate himself and completely abandoned his addiction. however, William halsted, Who was one of the pioneers of modern surgery, he was never able to break free from cocaine use. After studying Freud’s texts on the substance, he set out to find out whether it could be used as a local anesthetic, thus replacing ether and chloroform. To this end, he made himself a guinea pig, but within a few weeks the first effects began to bloom. Unable to concentrate during consultations, he stopped going to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he had just been appointed chief of surgery. On one occasion, Halstead had to leave the operating room in the middle of the surgery because the effects of the cocaine did not even allow him to hold the surgical instruments. He eventually agreed to be admitted to a phrenopath, but never recovered from the psychic sequelae caused by the drug and also developed an addiction to morphine.

By the turn of the 20th century, cocaine alkaloid addicts were plentiful, and most managed to stay in the shadows thanks to their alleged invigorating properties. “It was not easy to lead a double life, to be a prestigious doctor in the public sphere and, at the same time, a cocaine user, an addict,” explains Markel. Scottish writer Arthur conan doyle he was one of those prominent drug addicts, and although he never disclosed his relationship with cocaine, he left his mark on many of his works. Sherlock holmes, Doyle’s most iconic character and who was considered his alter ego, used to inject himself with a cocaine mix when he had no intriguing cases to investigate. His fearless friend, the Dr Watson, Worried about Sherlock’s use and tried to persuade him to stop injecting cocaine.

Cocaine: social stigma and abandonment of consumption

Over time, the drug has been stigmatized and governments have increased their control over its distribution and consumption. Decades after the rise of Freudian work, the psychoanalyst has faced countless criticisms for the habit he had acquired as he took his first steps as a researcher and therapist. Controversy on the degree of influence of white powder on Freud’s work can never be resolved, but most researchers agree that its the brightest period came after giving up his consumption.

Freud himself admitted in the last years of his life, perhaps as a way to exonerate his past, “my research on cocaine was a distraction that kept me anxious to conclude.”

More curiosities about the life of Sigmund Freud

The Austrian psychoanalyst had an intense and curious life. You can verify this by reading the following article:

  • “10 Fun Facts About Sigmund Freud”

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