Making friends with similar interests can be a challenge for anyone. But imagine you are the founder of an entirely new discipline, with its own peculiar jargon, set of practices, and conceptual categories. Imagine, for example, that you are Sigmund Freud, who in 1896 made his break with medicine to pursue the work of psychoanalysis. Drawing on clinical experience with patients, his own self-analysis, cocaine-induced reveries, and an idiosyncratic reading of Greek mythology, Freud invented his strange psychosexual theories within the confidence of a very small circle of acquaintances and admirers.
One of his close relationships during those productive and turbulent years, with eccentric ear, nose, and throat doctor Wilhelm Fliess—a collaborator, influence, “confessor and moral supporter”—ended badly in 1906. It was in that same year that Freud met the much-younger, Carl Jung. At their first meeting, the two “talked nonstop for 13 hours,” the Aeon video above, animated by Andrew Khosravani, tells us. Thus began the intense and now-legendary six-year friendship between the psychiatrists, a “passionate and surpassingly weird relationship, which, given the people involved, perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise.” Freud settled upon Jung as his protege and successor, the “Joshua to my Moses,” overjoyed to have found a friend who seemed to understand his ideas intimately.