Love him or hate him, Freud was an important figure in the history of psychology. As a psychologist visiting Vienna I felt honor bound to visit the place where Freud lived and worked for most of his life.*
The Freud Museum has two rooms that were as they had been in Freud’s day, the foyer and the waiting room. Sadly, Freud’s famous couch is no longer in Vienna, but lives in London. The couch came with him when he fled the Nazi’s and moved to London.**
Despite my background in experimental psychology, I found the contents of the rest of the museum quite familiar. I have read a number of the articles and books displayed. The pictures of Freud throughout his life were like seeing pictures of old friends.
I tried to envision a patient of Freud walking up the steps to his apartment, knocking on his door, leaving her coat and hat in the foyer, and awaiting treatment in the waiting room, but I found it all too hard to visualize. Perhaps others with more knowledge of Freud and his theories would have better luck.
The complaint with which many of the women came to Freud for treatment, hysteria, has always been a bit mysterious to me. Even with much reading of Freud and years of teaching his theory in introductory psychology and personality I can’t quite wrap my mind around how Freud came up with a theory that included so much occurring in the unconscious. A visit to where it all began didn’t help.
*This is my second visit to Vienna and the Freud Museum. I was there 12 years ago. I had the same feeling then—fascinating but didn’t really feel any greater connection to Freud and his theories. I thought it was the jet lag. It wasn’t.
**For some reason the fact the couch moved to London with Freud makes me smile. How many people take a couch when they flee a dictator bent on destroying their minority group?