Freud Museum, London

Freud Museum

Freud Museum

The Freud Museum celebrates the life and work of Professor Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna Freud.

By the time Freud fled his native Vienna on the eve of World War Two he was known across the world as the father of psychoanalysis. The movement had long since fractured into numerous competing schools, but most accepted Freud’s founding tenet – human behaviour was determined by the pressure of instinctual forces emanating from the unconscious mind.

As a Jew, a sexual reformer and an iconoclastic public intellectual, Freud was an obvious target for Nazi intimidation when Hitler’s troops annexed Austria into Greater Germany in 1938. In June that year, assisted by powerful friends including Princess Marie Bonaparte, Freud boarded the Orient Express with his daughter Anna. He sought asylum in Britain and settled at 20 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead, North London.

The Professor was to die just over a year later. In excruciating pain from the oral cancer he had lived with for 15 years Freud asked his friend and doctor Max Schur to help end his life, saying “Now it is nothing but torture and makes no sense anymore.” Schur obliged by administering a fatal dose of morphine.

Freud’s last major contribution to psychoanalysis, written in London, was a revision of the final essay of Moses and Monotheism in which he returned to a theme that had preoccupied him throughout his career: religion as collective neurosis.

Maresfield Gardens has a more significant place in the history of psychoanalysis as the home of Anna Freud, who remained at the house until her death in 1982. Anna pioneered the analysis of young children and in doing so rejected some of her own father’s theories, placing a much greater emphasis on the environmental causes of childhood neuroses.

Following her father’s death Anna became embroiled in a bitter dispute with Melanie Klein, another prominent child analyst, over the psychic development of infants – and ultimately the nature of psychoanalysis itself.

The house is now a museum housing Sigmund’s libray, his extensive collection of anthropological artefacts and, most famously, his psychoanalytic couch. 20 Maresfield Gardens stands as a monument not only to the drama and complexity of our inner lives, but also to Britain’s noble tradition of political asylum.

Visiting

The museum is accessible by underground, overland train, bus and car.

It is open Wednesday to Sunday, midday- 5pm.

Admission is £6 for adults, £4.50 for senior citizens, £3 for concessions and free for children under 12.

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