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Jones, E. (1940). Sigmund Freud 1856–1939. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 21:2-26.

(1940). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 21:2-26

Sigmund Freud 1856–1939

Ernest Jones

Freud is dead. These simple words, charged with meaning, have re-echoed widely throughout the world. To the small remaining circle of those who enjoyed his friendship the words signify a direct and inestimable loss. Never again shall we experience that peculiar union of good-will and realism so characteristic of his personality. Quite devoid of illusions—no man could be more so—yet he was enamoured of life, and one left him after every talk with the sensation of having inspired a bracing air under a clear sky. And then there was his sense of life, his hearty greeting, his unfailing interest in the small things as well as in the great; every sentence expressing both distinction and thought; the instant readiness to help, the essential kindliness of nature, the warmth of personal feeling, the fulness of personality. A sum of such features made him not only a great man, but an endearing figure who of necessity inspired fondness, respect and devotion in all near him.

As one who enjoyed his friendship through good and bad times for more than thirty years I find it hard to say which feature of his personality most impressed me—his unfailing serenity in painful circumstances, his unbreakable courage and determination, his cheerful humour and keen appreciation of the little things of daily life, or the goodness of his character and personality. He had the simplicity that seems always to accompany true greatness in men, though without any of the illusions about humanity that sometimes allows simplicity to decline into simpleness. His loyalty to friends was never blind, but was conditioned by their relationship to him; when disappointed or wounded he rarely hit back, though he never prided himself on turning the other cheek. When deserted by a friend he took thought rather on the value the friendship had once had; now it was over there was nothing more to be said. This experience he had to taste many times, since the emotions stirred by his work were such as not all co-workers could serenely master, and those who could not were apt to express their difficulties by personal unpleasantness. Freud has often been called a pessimist, but it is likely that this phase signifies rather a projection of the depressing feelings some aspects of his work evoked in idealistic readers. In truth his temperament was decidedly a cheerful one.

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