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Coca Cola and Sigmund Freud

Most people know that Sigmund Freud was the father of modern psychoanalysis, but did you know that he was also the foster father of Coca Cola? There is no good evidence that psychoanalysis can cure serious mood or thought disorders such as severe depression or schizophrenia. Modern psychiatry depends on the use of medications to change brain levels of neurotransmitters and psychotherapy together with medication is more effective than just medication alone. The only scientific paper that Sigmund Freud ever wrote was not about psychotherapy. It was about cocaine.

In 1881, Sigmund Freud started experimenting with cocaine. His first and only rigorous scientific paper was on cocaine, not psychoanalysis. The German army used cocaine to stave off exhaustion, and Freud thought it might help out a few of his patients suffering nervous disorders. He sent some cocaine to his fiancee, Martha Bernays, who lived some miles away, saying “In my last serious depression I took cocaine again and a small dose lifted me to the heights in a wonderful fashion. I am just now collecting the literature for a song of praise to this magical substance.” Freud desperately wanted to marry Martha, but her parents were rich and skeptical of this young upstart who presumed to ask for their daughter’s hand. So when Freud discovered cocaine, he had high hopes of impressing them with his discovery that cocaine could cure hunger, thirst and depression and even make people feel great. He couldn’t wait to announce this new wonder drug to the scientific community, publishing “On Coca” in June 1884.

Shortly after publishing his paper, Freud met an ophthalmology intern named Carl Koller. Freud and Koller started taking cocaine themselves. Noticing that cocaine numbed his lips when he drank it, Koller wanted to see what would happen when he put a coke solution into his patients’ eyes before surgery. He showed that cocaine could be instilled in the eye to block pain during eye surgery. But, at that time, Freud was out of town visiting Martha. When he returned, he became distraught when he learned that Koller had published his new discovery, and now Koller was known as the discoverer of the first local anaesthetic for eye surgery. Freud had had his great discovery stolen by another doctor.

At that time in the US, John Styth Pemberton brought out his own version of a drink containing cocaine in alcohol. People bought his drink and loved what it did to them, but in 1885, the city of Atlanta banned the sale of alcohol. So Pemberton had to change the recipe. He removed alcohol from his drink, and sold his new drink under the name Coca-Cola. People did not buy this new concoction as much as they had bought his drink containing cocaine in alcohol, so he thought that his drink had failed and he sold his patent to Asa Griggs Candler for a paltry $2,300. However, that was a quite lot of money in 1890, and the drink did taste awful. Asa Grigg Candler added carbon dioxide bubbles to the drink that had had both the cocaine and alcohol removed, and it was an instant success. Now you know that Sigmund Freud who is known today as the father of psychoanalysis also should be known as the foster father of Coca Cola.

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