24 January 2022

Freud Museum Trip

Six sixth-formers and myself, all with some knowledge of Freud, went to the Freud museum in Hampstead on the Thursday afternoon before half-term. On the psychology A level course we had been studying the psychodynamic approach, specifically Freud’s psychoanalysis. We had learned about his focus on the unconscious mind, his tripartite theory of personality and ego defence mechanisms to enable us to cope with anxiety. We were met by Stefan, the Education officer of the museum, who gave us an introductory talk on Freud and, due to covid limitations on group size, we were lucky enough to have the run of his house. Stefan explained he was biased in favour of Freud and that he is a practising psychoanalyst himself. He told us about Freud’s background and gave us the historical and social context to his theories. After this we had a good look around the museum where Freud spent the last year of his life after escaping from Vienna in 1938. Most of his possessions were moved to his London house and we saw the famous couch where he conducted his ‘talk therapy’. I had not realised he was facing away from his patient whilst recording his painstaking notes. The students were intrigued by all his books, artefacts and his pictures – we could observe but not touch – I think they were trying to figure out the man from his collection. There was a small shop which proved entertaining with products such as after-therapy mints I purchased and Freudian slippers which we admired but did not buy! Next, we had a Q & A session where students asked Stefan about dream analysis, the origin of Freud’s therapy and his political affiliations. Stefan held the attention of the students and gave an alternative voice to the textbook, often challenging the version we had studied. It was revealing to hear a different version of what psychology should be and of the value of psychoanalysis. It was a fun and illuminating visit! ( Lesley Vines, Psychology)

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