Austrian physician and physiologist who was acknowledged by Sigmund Freud and others as the principal forerunner of psychoanalysis. Breuer found, in 1880, that he had relieved symptoms of hysteria in a patient, Bertha Pappenheim, called Anna O. in his case study, after he had induced her to recall unpleasant past experiences under hypnosis. He concluded that neurotic symptoms result from unconscious processes and will disappear when these processes become conscious. The case of Anna O. was important because it introduced Freud to the cathartic method (the "talking cure") that was pivotal in his later work
Learn more about Breuer, Josef with a free trial on Britannica.com.