Friday, May 06, 2016

For the Love of a Dog and a Good Cigar

Sigmund Freud was born on this day in 1856.

In old age, Sigmund Freud became somewhat besotted with Chows. His last Chow was named Lün, and moved with him from Vienna to London in 1938, enduring a 6-month period in quarantine.

Lün was reunited with Freud for only six months, however, before Freud's throat and jaw cancer -- caused, no doubt by a lifetime of cigar smoking and alcohol consumption -- made things unbearable for the dog.

By July of 1939, Freud had an open sore on his cheek, a disintegrating jawbone, and a palette that had rotted away to the point that a rubber dam was needed to prevent food from shooting out his nose when he ate. The smell of decay from the rotten cancerous flesh from inside his mouth created a terrible odor.

In his book, The Death of Sigmund Freud: Fascism, Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Fundamentalism, Mark Edmundson writes:

Lün… had always adored her master. Freud had petted her, walked her, and frequently, too, talked with her; she sometimes seemed to him the sanest presence in his life. But now she cowered on the far side of the sick room because of the smell of decomposition coming from her master.

A month later, too weak to read and in too much pain to talk, Freud called on his friend, Max Schur, to keep his promise to ease him out of life in as humane a way as possible. Schur administered large doses of morphine to Freud on three subsequent days, and the psychoanalyst died on September 23, 1939, at the age of 83.

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