When Is Sigmund Freud's Birthday?

A Small Controversy Over the True Date of Freud's Birth

Sigmund Freud Birthday
The birthplace of Sigmund Freud in Pribor, Czech republic.. Photo by Michal Novak / Wikimedia Commons

When was the famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud born? While it might seem like a fairly simple and straightforward question, it turns out that there is actually a bit of controversy over the real date of his birth.

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The date most frequently cited as the day that Sigmund Freud was born is May 6, 1856. However, there is some debate as to the true date of Freud's birth. In 1968, researchers discovered town register records that listed Freud's date of birth as March 6, 1856.

Why the discrepancy? Some scholars believe that the date is merely a clerical error. However, Freud historian Marie Balmary has suggested that Freud's true date of birth is indeed March 6 and that his parents adopted a false date in order to disguise the fact that his mother was already pregnant before she married Freud's father.

A Closer Look at Freud's Early Life

Despite the discrepancy in the dates, Freud's date of birth is traditionally celebrated on May 6. He was born in Freiberg, Moravia, an area now known as Pribor in the Czech Republic. His birth name was Sigismund Schlomo Freud, but he changed his name to Sigmund in 1878 at the age of 22.

His father, Jakob, was 41 when Sigmund was born and already had two grown children named Emmanuel and Philipp. His mother, Amalia, was just 21 and Sigmund was her first child. Freud would later write that he was always his mother's particular favorite, her "golden Siggie." Jakob and Amalia would go on to have seven more children together.

After Jakob's business failed, the family was forced to move and eventually settled in Vienna, Austria, where Freud would continue to reside until a year before his death in 1939. Freud married and went on to have six children of his own. His daughter Anna Freud became a famed psychoanalyst credited with the development of the defense mechanisms and child psychoanalysis.

Freud is famous for developing the school of thought known as psychoanalysis and is recognized as one of the most famous figures in psychology history. While many of his ideas and theories are discounted today and the relevance of his work in today's world is a matter of debate, he did have a tremendous effect on psychology and particularly psychotherapy.

Perhaps his greatest contribution was the development of the technique known as talk therapy. He was one of the first to suggest that psychological problems could be treated and relieved by simply talking about them.

His theories of psychosexual development and the unconscious mind are among his other important contributions.

You can learn more about Sigmund Freud's birth and early years in this photobiography of his life. If you are looking for more important dates and events, be sure to check out this Freud timeline.


Bering, J. (2008). It's your birthday, too? No way!: Was Freud's birthday a hoax? Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/quirky-little-things/200805/its-your-birthday-too-no-way

Freud: Conflict and Culture. (2010). Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/freud/

Grubin, D. (2002). Young Dr. Freud: A film by David Grubin. Devillier Donegan Enterprises.

Hothersall, D. 1995. History of Psychology, 3rd ed., Mcgraw-Hill:NY.

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