Freud's Patients

Original title: Les Patients de Freud

Author: Borch-Jacobsen, Mikkel

Publication Date:

November 2011



Original language and publisher

Territories Handled

Worldwide excl. French

Territories Sold

World English (Reaktion)
Hungary (Corvina)
Czech Republic (Alpress)
South Korea (Jiwasarang)
Turkey (Nemesis Kitap)


History, Psychology

Freud's Patients

Original title: Les Patients de Freud

Author: Borch-Jacobsen, Mikkel


Freud’s Patients brings new scrutiny to the methods used by Freud with the patients he treated, including his own daughter, Anna. Not least, the book illustrates through the fates of those under Freud’s care that his treatments may not only have been ineffective, but at times utterly destructive. Borch-Jacobsen, one of the world’s great Freud scholars, has done a masterful job in allowing readers to peek behind the curtain and sample the real lives of these illustrious patients. – Elizabeth F. Loftus, Distinguished Professor, Stanford University, and author of Eyewitness Testimony and (with Katherine Ketcham) The Myth of Repressed Memory

Freud’s Patients features 38 historical portraits, but the picture which emerges is a strikingly true-to-life one of Freud himself, drawn by his subjects, their friends and families, and framed in this beautifully presented collection. Freud’s case histories have been compared to fiction from the beginning – not least by their author himself. Freud’s Patients separates the fact from the fiction with stunning and sobering effect and makes this book a must-read for anyone who wants to know the truth about these cases. It is a landmark publication which reveals the truth so often obscured in the case histories. The result is a riveting read which is not just better informed but much more interesting than Freud’s fiction. You couldn’t make it up!’ – Christopher Badcock, author of The Imprinted Brain

Originally published in 2011 in France, the English edition of Freud’s Patients is published in September 2021, which shows the timelessness of the topic. The English edition includes 7 additional, new vignettes written by the author.

Everyone knows the characters described by Freud in his case histories: ‘Dora’, the ‘Rat Man’, the ‘Wolf Man’. But what do we know of the people, the lives behind these famous pseudonyms: Ida Bauer, Ernst Lanzer, Sergius Pankejeff? Do we know the circumstances that led them to Freud’s consulting-room, or how they fared – how they really fared – following their treatments?

And what of those patients about whom Freud wrote nothing, or very little: Pauline Silberstein, who threw herself from the fourth floor of her analyst’s building; Elfriede Hirschfeld, Freud’s ‘grand-patient’ and ‘chief tormentor’; the fashionable architect Karl Mayreder; the psychotic millionaire Carl Liebmann; and so many others?

In an absorbing sequence of portraits, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen offers the stories of  these men and women – some comic, many tragic, all  of them deeply moving. In total, thirty-eight lives tell us as much about Freud’s clinical practice as his celebrated case studies, revealing too a darker and more complex Freud than is usually portrayed: the doctor as his patients, their friends and their families saw him.

Marketing Information

  • Full English translation available, which includes 7 additional, new vignettes written by the author.