The final years

From 1930 to 1938, Freud continued to live and work in Vienna. The international psychoanalytic movement was now well established. Freud had become famous and most of the turbulence within the movement during the 1920s had calmed down. Yet, due to his increasingly poor health, Freud was slowly becoming less involved in the inner workings of the psychoanalytic movement. In fact, in the mid-1920s he stopped attending meetings of the International Psychoanalytic Association.

For the last 15 to 20 years of Freud's life, beginning from the time he was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 1923, his daughter, Anna, was his nurse and constant companion. In 1923 she became a member of the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society and remained an important figure in psychoanalysis after her father's death. She gradually took over increasing amounts of responsibility from her father as it pertained to his work in the Association. Anna Freud became best known for her work on defense mechanisms and the analysis of children.

The early 1930s represented a time of political unrest and the eventual outbreak of war in Europe. On March 12, 1938, Hitler's forces invaded Austria and quickly took over the country. Although he initially resisted, his need to leave the country became apparent after numerous threats. On March 13, the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society voted to dissolve and recommended that all of its members flee Austria and reconvene, if possible, wherever Freud took up residence. Over the next week, Freud's home was raided several times, and on March 22, his daughter Anna Freud was arrested and questioned by the Gestapo. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Although money and valuables were stolen from Freud's home, his private study was left untouched. The property of the psychoanalytic publishing house, on the other hand, which was located a few doors down from Freud's home and office, was confiscated in its entirety.

Freud moved to England on July 6, 1938, with his wife and daughter Anna. They settled into his last home, a house that Anna Freud kept until her death 40 years later. Surprisingly, Freud's joy at the pleasures of their new home, including freedom from Nazi persecution, was tempered by a surprising homesickness for Vienna. He had always claimed that he hated Vienna. Now that he was gone, however, he longed for the familiarity of the city.

This homesickness was no doubt accentuated by the need for another surgical procedure to treat his ongoing mouth cancer in September of that year. Since Freud's first operations for mouth cancer in 1923, numerous pre-cancerous growths had appeared and been removed. In 1936, however, a cancerous growth had reappeared. Now, in 1938, the cancer had returned once more. Removing it this time required a significant procedure that left Freud very weakened.

In February of 1939, despite the drastic surgery that had been performed only five months earlier, Freud's cancer returned. This time the doctors deemed the tumor inaccessible and inoperable. Freud would have to live with it until he died. Over the course of the next eight months, Freud grew increasingly weak, and the tumor increased in size. By September, it had eaten through to the outside of his cheek, creating a large, unpleasant open sore.

On September 21, Freud, in severe pain, asked his doctor to administer a dose of morphine large enough to ease him out of life. His doctor complied, giving him several large injections of morphine over the course of the next few days. Freud died near midnight on September 23, 1939. He was cremated three days later on September 26. Ernest Jones, who became his first and most authoritative biographer, gave the funeral oration.

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