Wilhelm Fliess
Wilhelm Fliess was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Jewish otolaryngologist who practised in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. On Josef Breuer's
Josef Breuer
Josef Breuer was an Austrian physician whose works laid the foundation of psychoanalysis.Born in Vienna, his father, Leopold Breuer, taught religion in Vienna's Jewish community. Breuer's mother died when he was quite young, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother and educated by his father...

 suggestion, Fliess attended several "conferences" with Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 beginning in 1887 in Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, and the two soon formed a strong friendship. Through their extensive correspondence and the series of personal meetings, Fliess came to play an important part in the development of psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...


Fliess developed several idiosyncratic theories, such as reflex nasal neuroses, postulating a connection between the nose and the genitals, and vital periodicity, forerunner of the popular concepts of biorhythm
Biorhythm is an attempt to predict various aspects of a person's life through simple mathematical cycles. Most scientists believe that the idea has no more predictive power than raw chance, and consider the concept an example of pseudoscience.-Beliefs:...

s that never found scientific favor, though others, such as the idea of innate bisexuality
Innate bisexuality
Innate bisexuality is a term introduced by Sigmund Freud , that expounds all humans are born bisexual but through psychological development become monosexual while the bisexuality remains in a latent state.There is no modern scientific consensus as to...

, were incorporated into Freud's theories. Fliess believed men and women went through mathematically fixed sexual cycles of 23 and 28 days, respectively . Freud referred occasional patients to him for treatment of their neurosis through anaesthetization of the nasal mucosa with cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

, and through nasal surgery. Together, Fliess and Freud developed a Project for a Scientific Psychology, which was later abandoned. Fliess was also an author and wrote Der Ablauf Des Lebens a book about his biorythmic theories.

Emma Eckstein
Emma Eckstein
Emma Eckstein was 'one of Sigmund Freud's most important patients and, for a short period of time around 1897, became a psychoanalyst herself': she has indeed been described as 'the first woman analyst....Emma Eckstein became both colleague and patient' for Freud...

 (1865-1924) had a particularly disastrous experience when Freud referred the then 27-year-old patient to Fliess for surgery to remove the turbinate bone from her nose
Human nose
The visible part of the human nose is the protruding part of the face that bears the nostrils. The shape of the nose is determined by the ethmoid bone and the nasal septum, which consists mostly of cartilage and which separates the nostrils...

, ostensibly to cure her of premenstrual depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

. Eckstein haemorrhaged profusely in the weeks following the procedure, almost to the point of death as infection set in. Freud consulted with another surgeon, who removed a piece of surgical gauze that Fliess had left behind. Eckstein was left permanently disfigured, with the left side of her face caved in. Despite this, she remained on very good terms with Freud for many years, becoming a psychoanalyst herself.

Fliess also remained close friends with Freud. He even predicted Freud's death would be around the age of 51, through one of his complicated bio-numerological theories ("critical period calculations"). Their friendship, however, did not last to see that prediction out: in 1904 their friendship disintegrated due to Fliess's belief that Freud had given details of a periodicity theory Fliess was developing to a plagiarist. Freud died at 83 years of age.

Freud ordered that his correspondence with Fliess be destroyed. It is only known today because Marie Bonaparte purchased Freud's letters to Fliess and refused to permit their destruction.

Fliess's son Robert (1895–1970) was also a psychoanalyst and a prolific writer in that field. He devised the phrase ambulatory psychosis. Jeffrey Masson claimed that Fliess sexually molested his son Robert and that this caused Fliess to undermine Freud's investigation of the seduction theory because of its implications for his life
Though Fliess' ideas are often ridiculed today, modern science has in fact revealed that the nose has more than one connection with sexual behaviour and the genitals. The nose is now known to contain erectile tissue, and this may also become engorged during sexual arousal as a side-effect of the signals fired off by the autonomic nervous system
Autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that acts as a control system functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions. The ANS affects heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils,...

 to trigger changes in the genitals of both men and women. A condition exists known as honeymoon rhinitis
Honeymoon rhinitis
Honeymoon rhinitis is a condition in which the sufferer experiences nasal congestion during sexual intercourse.The condition appears to be genetically determined, and caused by the presence in the nose of erectile tissue which may become engorged during sexual arousal as a side effect of the...

, in which men and women experience nasal stuffiness during sex, and a small number of people are known to sneeze, sometimes uncontrollably, when engaging in or even thinking about sexual activity. The existence of evolutionary relics within the autonomic nervous system has been hypothesised as a cause. Even more remarkably, a study on mice has suggested that the difference between male and female sexual behaviour may be explained by a tiny organ in the nose rather than gender-specific brain circuitry.

He appears as a character in Joseph Skibell
Joseph Skibell
Joseph Skibell is a novelist and essayist living in Atlanta, Georgia.Skibell is the author of three novels, which use elements of history and fantasy:* A Blessing on the Moon * The English Disease...

's 2010 novel, A Curable Romantic.
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