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Margolis, D.P. (1989). Freud and his Mother. Mod. Psychoanal., 14(1):37-56.

(1989). Modern Psychoanalysis, 14(1):37-56

Freud and his Mother

Deborah P. Margolis, M.A.

A mother is only brought unlimited satisfaction by her relationship to her son; this is altogether the most perfect, most free from ambivalence of all human relationships. A mother can transfer to her son the ambition she has been obliged to suppress in herself, and she can expect from him the satisfaction of all that has been left over in her of her masculinity complex.


Freud was born in a caul. This unusual circumstance was a source of great delight to his mother, Amalia, for according to folklore a child so born was destined to a life of happiness and fame. In quick succession, seven additional children were born (the second, Julius, died in infancy). Of her seven surviving children, Sigmund, her first-born, remained Amalia's favorite: mein goldener Sigi, Sigi, mein Gold. Amalia's belief that Sigmund was destined to greatness was reinforced by the prophecy of an old woman she met in a pastry shop. “It became one of the constantly repeated family stories, a part of the atmosphere in which the child grew up. Thus the hero's garb was in the weaving, right at the cradle” (Bernfeld, 1940/1973, p. 189). “Could this,” Freud asks himself, “have been the source of my thirst for grandeur?” (1900, Standard Edition, 4: 192). Could Freud, master solver of riddles, have seriously asked this question? Perhaps it was his sister Anna who more accurately identified the source of her brother's thirst for grandeur.

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