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Ward, I. (2000). Presenting Freud at the Freud Museum. Free Associations, 7(4):98-112.

(2000). Free Associations, 7(4):98-112

Presenting Freud at the Freud Museum

Ivan Ward

When Ernest Jones Wrote his introductory book for the layman What is Psychoanalysis? he began with ‘popular ideas’ on the subject. Or rather popular misconceptions and the hostile feelings and objections that psychoanalysis arouses. Fifty years later one is obliged to address the same issues if one is tempted to venture beyond the narrow confines of the psychoanalytic profession and try to explain psychoanalysis to the wider public or to students of psychology, sociology or other disciplines. One finds resistances to psychoanalysis of a most determined and implacable nature. And frequently the hostility is directed to the figure of Freud himself.

Richards (1994) tells of a student who began her psychoanalytic studies course with the pronouncement ‘I hate Freud’. The example was sadly familiar. It reminded me of an internal document I had written in 1989 when first setting up an education service at the Freud Museum with my colleague Gwion Jones. Part of the document dealt with similar teaching problems and described the attitude we took to them in the museum. I have used that earlier paper as the basis for the present communication.

The title — ‘Presenting Freud at the Freud Museum’ — is supposed to give a flavour of the ambiguity we were trying to address. It is often expressed as the difference between the ‘man’ and the ‘work’, elided in the ambiguous term ‘Freud’. Typically, a course tutor phoning to arrange a visit would say: My students do not seem to have any idea of Freud as a person or I thought a tour of the house would make Freud more of a real human being to them. The Freud Museum is certainly well placed to accede to this request. Like a bubble of history transported from Vienna, it contains family furniture, Freud's working environment including his desk and couch, his extensive library and thousands of antiquities he collected during his lifetime.

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