Cäcilie M. (Anna von Lieben, born Anna von Tedesco; 1847–1900) is the pseudonym of one of Freud's first patients, whom he called in 1890 his “principal client” and in 1897 his “instructress”.[1]


Born into a rich Austrian Jewish family, Anna von Lieben was referred to Freud in the late eighties for help with a long-standing series of nervous disorders. After referring her for a consultation with Charcot, Freud treated her (with some short-term success) through hypnotism, taking her with him to see Hippolyte Bernheim in 1889 in the (unsuccessful) hope that he might be able to work a permanent cure.[2] He also used abreaction for temporary relief of her symptoms,[3] noting however that her sense of guilt and self-reproaches would swiftly return after the treatment sessions.[4]

Her symptoms, including hallucinations and physical spasms, provided the basis for many of Freud's claims about conversion hysteria; and how to interpret back from physical symptom or hallucination to the underlying (symbolic) emotional meaning it expressed,[5] often by a 'punning' logic.[6]


Freud's later critics have argued that his continuing treatment of Anna, given awareness of her incurability, amounted to using her as a kind of cash-cow.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ P. Gay, Freud (1989) p. 69
  2. ^ E. Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 211
  3. ^ H. Westerink, A Dark Trace (2009) p. 12
  4. ^ M. Macmillan, Freud Evaluated (1997) p. 106
  5. ^ J. Schwartz, Cassandra's Daughter (2003) p. 51-2
  6. ^ M. Nixon, Fantastic Reality (2005) p. 138-9
  7. ^ F. B. Michael, Ingenious Nonsense (2012) p. 80

Further readingEdit

  • Peter J. Swales, 'Freud, his Teacher, and the Birth of Psychoanalysis', in Paul E. Stepansky ed., Freud, Appraisals and Reappraisals, (1986) 3-82

External linksEdit