In the years since 1900, when The Interpretation of Dreams appeared, Freud’s ideas have traversed large portions of the world. The ways and means have been various. The practice of psychoanalysis and its therapeutic progeny rank high, of course. But so, too, does what could be called the university route: through philosophy, politics and the social sciences. This also embraces feminism and thinking about gender. Crucially, literature, the arts and indeed cinema and popular culture, have imbibed, made use of and spread Freudian and psychoanalytic insights.
The moment of Surrealism, which also blatantly fed into Jacques Lacan’s thinking and writing, gave material visibility to dreams, fantasies, and the unconscious. It made women and sexuality the object of the shaping gaze, but also like psychoanalysis itself, included women amongst the shapers. Meanwhile, literature, which had so inspired Freud, now returned the favour, mutating free association into streams of fictional consciousness, plumbing the psychopathology of ‘not always amusing’ everyday life, and giving us a range of new ‘characters’ in the analyst and the patient, who also regularly enough feature in long-running televisual classics from In Treatment to The Sopranos.
Today, when individuality is too often self-defined as a pre-diagnosed ‘psychological’ disorder in the confessional clamour of social media, would Freud perhaps have wanted to amplify his thinking about ‘ordinary unhappiness’?
Dr Lisa Appignanesi OBE is an award-winning writer, novelist, cultural commentator, and until 2021 Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. She is a Visiting Professor in Literature and the Medical Humanities at King’s College, London and an Honorary Fellow of St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford. She was Chair of the Freud Museum London from 2007-2013 and President of English Pen. A former Deputy Director of London’s Institute of Contemporary, she has judged many literary prizes, including the Man Booker International 2018 won by Olga Tokarczuk. Amongst her books are Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love, Trials of Passion, All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion, Mad Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800; and the classic Freud’s Women (with John Forrester). She is also the author of an acclaimed family memoir, Losing the Dead and nine novels, including The Memory Man, partly set in Vienna. She was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of her contribution to literature. She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for services to literature in 2013.
The Sigmund Freud Museum invites to the annual Sigmund Freud Lecture on the occasion of Sigmund Freud's birthday on May 6.
To the overview of the previous commemorative lectures
Unfortunately, registrations are no longer possible as the event is already fully booked or the registration deadline has been exceeded.