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Freud and Cocaine -- The Deal
Freud leads the late nineteenth Century charge for the cause of cocaine.
On April 24, 1884, Sigmund Freud ordered his first gram of cocaine from the local apothecary.
It was not to be his last. He'd read about coke, it was supposed to be great for fatigue. So great, the German army used it to stave off exhaustion, and he thought it might help out a few of his patients suffering nervous disorders. Like most people who purchase their first gram of coke, he was rather shocked - it cost him a small fortune. One tenth of his monthly salary to be precise. And again, like new kids in the cocaine game, the first thing he did was take a dose himself.
Then another. And another.
He sent some to his friends; he sent some to his fiancee, Martha Bernays, who lived some miles away, saying:I will kiss you quite red and feed you till you are plump. And if you are forward you shall see who is the stronger, a little girl who doesn't eat enough or a big strong man with cocaine in his body. In my last serious depression I took cocaine again and a small dose lifted me to the heights in a wonderful fashion. I am just now collecting the literature for a song of praise to this magical substance.
Clearly, he was off his nut.
A junkie in the making
Freud was going through a bad patch. He desperately wanted to marry the fetching Martha, but her parents were rich and sceptical of this young upstart who presumed to ask for their daughter's hand. He'd started studying a variety of sea creatures in the hope of making great leaps forward in the new science of neurology and had the honour of being the first person to find the genitals of an eel (how he found the genitals while looking for the brain is a bit of a mystery). But it wasn't enough. Poking around in the nether regions of fish wasn't going to impress anybody, not least Martha's snooty parents.
So when the cocaine came along, he had high hopes. How could a highly addictive simulant not impress one's presumptive in-laws? Not only did this new drug cure hunger, thirst and melancholy, it made him feel fantastic. Like totally groovy, man. He couldn't wait to announce this new wonder drug to the scientific community, publishing "On Coca" in June 1884. Considering Freud was the father of psychoanalysis and spurred an entire new realm of intellectual discourse, the article was a complete mess. Rife with misspellings and inaccuracies, he managed to even get the comparatively simple chemical formula of cocaine incorrect. Why? Let's just say he was extremely thorough in his research.
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