The Father of Psychoanalysis, creator of the psychodynamic and psychosexual theories, and the mastermind behind the interpretation of dreams. This is but a drop in the ocean of contributions Sigmund Freud made to the field of Psychology. He was the one to pinpoint the profound uncertainty of mankind being more than reason and consciousness, but rather driven by impulses, instinct and the impenetrable darkness of the unconscious mind.
Perhaps for this ungovernable reason Freud was never attracted to music; in fact, he repudiated it. According to several testimonies, he found it unbearable to listen to music, as it caused him migraines and severe neurosis.
Yet not all was lost. Freud found a great source of inspiration in literature. In his correspondence with close acquaintances, he described the books he found to be magnificent and interesting. Only six held the coveted place of being his favorite works, and one is left to wonder why they gripped his imagination.
Paradise Lost – John Milton
In the face of crisis, some plummet while other rise stronger than ever. Such was the case of John Milton, a 43-year-old man who lost his sight and still completed this epic work of 12 tomes. More than temptation, Paradise Lost is the place where Heaven and Hell intersect.
The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
Far from the humorous and cotton-candy tale Disney spins for its audience, The Jungle Book is a raw literary tale of the life in the jungle. We follow the life and trials of Mowgli, who in several cases escapes the jaws of death and finds new purpose. Perhaps this enigmatic neurologist was inspired by the chaotic and rambunctious life of Mowgli.
Humorous Stories and Sketches – Mark Twain
Freud was an admirer of satire, and we can easily deduce this from Mark Twain's sketches and stories, a hilarious take on the American way of life, under a political and journalistic lens.
Poems and Ballads – Heinrich Heine
Heine stood out as a writer who despised censorship and Romanticism. Perhaps this is why Freud was attracted to his poetry and sarcastic ballads. Heine expressed his dissatisfaction with dark analogies and a comedic view on death.
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevski
"The Brothers Karamazov is the most magnificent novel ever written," Freud expressed of this novel that explains the fractured identity of Russia in the nineteenth century. Duty, justice and love are tightly intertwined in this masterpiece.
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Freud gave this book to his fiancée as a present. Dickens's tragedy captivated Freud, and the loneliness that seeps from its pages was spellbinding to the neurologist.
Literature caught Freud in its web, and as a result he explored countless genres, from medicine and psychology to art, archeology, philosophy, and history. Other great thinkers formed part of his personal library, such as Goethe, Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain, and Dostoyevski. Literature and art, unlike dreams and neuroses, serve the artist as a vehicle of fantasy that opens the way back to reality.