Reflections after a visit to Freud’s house in Hampstead: Jennifer’s postcard from London

Jennifer knocking on the door of the Freud Museum, London, 6th June 2015.

Jennifer knocking on the door of the Freud Museum, London, 6th June 2015.

Why I went…

I have been fascinated by psychoanalysis and its founding father for many years now so I wanted to see the house where Freud spent the last year of his life and where he died in September 1939. This house is exciting because it contains the famous psychoanalytical couch on which Freud’s patients rested, as well as Freud’s impressively varied collection of books and antiquities. It also represents the consolidation of psychoanalysis in the UK through the great welcome Freud received here as an exile from Nazi Vienna. It is a rare happy story of rescue and escape at the time.

What I got out of the experience…

I expected a clinical, medical environment; instead, I was surprised to find that the famous couch is covered in an Oriental rug and luxuriant cushions, one small part of a cavernous room lined floor to ceiling with books and display cabinets containing Greek vases and Roman statues. I knew Freud was a collector and had a great interest in archeology, but these treasures surpassed my expectations. It must have been a difficult and impressive task to bring all these items with the family when they fled Austria in 1938. Another room housed a video that presented family photographs, with narration by Anna Freud, as well as a speech by Sigmund; to hear his voice in his house in his accented but clear English was a haunting experience. I now want to go back on a less touristy visit to look at some of the Italian books in Freud’s library.

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