Did Sigmund Freud use Cocaine on his Patients


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Dear Cecil:freud

My friends tell me that Sigmund Freud used cocaine on his patients while diagnosing them. Is this true?

— Blake Harnage, Birmingham, Alabama


Cecil replies:

I’m not sure what you’re envisioning here. “Yo, Fraulein, have some cocaine. May I examine your organs?” So far as I know, this was not Freud’s procedure. However, he was an early advocate of cocaine, used it himself, and touted it to his associates, one of whom demonstrated that it could be used as a local anesthetic. Sales of the drug immediately took off, and an industry was born. In other words, not only did Freud give us psychoanalysis (and psychiatry in general, I venture to say), we can also thank him for the crack epidemic. Quite the career. What could this guy possibly have done for an encore — invented the atom bomb?

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