Sigmund Freud Speaks: The Only Known Recording of His Voice, 1938

in Psychology | May 7th, 2012

On December 7, 1938, a BBC radio crew visited Sigmund Freud at his new home at Hampstead, North London. Freud had moved to England only a few months earlier to escape the Nazi annexation of Austria. He was 81 years old and suffering from incurable jaw cancer. Every word was an agony to speak.

Less then a year later, when the pain became unbearable, Freud asked his doctor to administer a lethal dose of morphine. The BBC recording is the only known audio recording of Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and one of the towering intellectual figures of the 20th century. (Find works by Freud in our collection of 300 Free eBooks.) In heavily accented English, he says:

I started my professional activity as a neurologist trying to bring relief to my neurotic patients. Under the influence of an older friend and by my own efforts, I discovered some important new facts about the unconscious in psychic life, the role of instinctual urges, and so on. Out of these findings grew a new science, psychoanalysis, a part of psychology, and a new method of treatment of the neuroses. I had to pay heavily for this bit of good luck. People did not believe in my facts and thought my theories unsavory. Resistance was strong and unrelenting. In the end I succeeded in acquiring pupils and building up an International Psychoanalytic Association. But the struggle is not yet over.  –Sigmund Freud.

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Comments (8)

  1. May 7, 2012 / 9:08 am

    Thank you for sharing this resource! It reminded me of a telephone commercial years ago with spoofs on Einstein and Freud, in which Einstein phones up Freud and says, “Hello Sigmund? Albert here!” I really enjoy the posts from your site.

  2. cloudy2 says . . .
    May 7, 2012 / 6:19 pm

    Was this done on a ‘wire’ recording?
    These same ‘wire’ recordings were available right after the war.

  3. Epicfiction says . . .
    May 26, 2012 / 12:57 pm

    This is really cool! Thanks for posting.

  4. Gary says . . .
    July 18, 2012 / 9:07 pm


  5. carlos says . . .
    September 29, 2013 / 1:57 pm

    This was strange.nFor very long time, I wished to be a psychoanalyst. Then, I was neglated almost everything that psychoanalysis…nToday, I don’t give much importance to most of what is called psychoanalysis, it just isn’t of my interest anymore, but his figure still give me the chills… he’s (was) a very charismatic person, fascinating indeed.

  6. carlos says . . .
    September 29, 2013 / 1:58 pm

    I neglated almost everything that psychoanalysis represents…*

  7. Jokie X Wislon says . . .
    September 29, 2013 / 6:35 pm

    Spooky! His voice is exactly as I would have imagined! :-)

  8. Anshu says . . .
    January 11, 2014 / 10:17 am

    Very inspiring for aspiring psychoanalysts like me . its like listening to – ‘the master’s voice !!’.

    this is the first time i heard Freud’s voice after reading a lot of his books -he sounds very profound . we will be forever indebted to him for his deep understanding of the human mind and unflinching courage to find the truth which lies beneath.

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