Sigmund Freud Lecture

The Sigmund Freud Foundation invites to the annual Sigmund Freud Lecture on the occasion of Sigmund Freud's birthday on 6 May.


2018 - XLV. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Philipp Blom: Let Me Tell You a Story. Narrative Selves in Times of Turmoil

Sunday, 6 May 2018, 11 am, Billrothhaus, Frankgasse 8, 1090 Vienna

Philipp Blom, Copyright: Heike Bogenberger
Philipp Blom, Copyright: Heike Bogenberger
Photo: Philipp Blom, Copyright: Heike Bogenberger
Lecture in German
An event by the Sigmund Freud Foundation in cooperation with Society of Physicians in Vienna
Free admission, please register, free seating
Welcome: Monika Pessler
Introduction: Carlo Strenger
Let Me Tell You A Story
Narrative Selves in Times of Turmoil
Stories shape our thoughts, our feelings our deepest reflexes. Through them we become members of a particular family, a culture, a class, a generation - through them we become ourselves. Human beings appear to have a powerful need for projected meaning, for a plot, for beginning, middle, and end, for a sense to all the things happening around us, and to us. We use stories to impose meaning on the randomness of experience. 
But what is our relationship to the stories that form us and to our need for them? Does our attitude to stories have a particular significance in an age of fake news? In this Sigmund Freud Lecture I will explore the meanings storytelling in face of a crisis of language and factual reporting from the perspective of a historian, a professional storyteller whose task it is to create meaning out of facts. In the company of Denis Diderot and Sigmund Freud I will investigate how it is possible to live with our urge for the counterfactual, the good yarn, the great narrative, a constant temptation to suspend our disbelief. The power of stories, after all, is deeply ambivalent.
(Philipp Blom, 2018)
Philipp Blom, born in 1970 in Hamburg, studied philosophy, history and Jewish studies in Vienna and Oxford. He lives in Vienna and works there as an author and historian. He received numerous awards, for example the Prize NDR Nonfiction Prize or the Getty Reseach Institute scholarship in Los Angeles. His latest publications include: The Vertigo Years. Europe 1900 – 1914 (2008), A Wicked Company (2010), Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938 (2015), Die Welt aus den Angeln. Eine Geschichte der Kleinen Eiszeit von 1570 bis 1700 sowie der modernen Welt, verbunden mit einigen Überlegungen zum Klima der Gegenwart (2017) and the novel Bei Sturm am Meer (2016).
Carlo Strenger is an existential psychoanalyst, philosopher and public intellectual and serves as Professor of Psychology and Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. He is a member of the Scientific Board of the Sigmund Freud Foundation in Vienna, of the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles and is on the Terrorism Monitoring Panel of the World Federation of Scientists. He is a columnist at Israel’s leading Newspaper Haaretz and Neue Zürcher Zeitung among others. His latest publications include Zivilisierte Verachtung. Eine Anleitung zur Verteidigung unserer Freiheit (2015), Freud’s Legacy in the Global Era (2016) and Abenteuer Freiheit. Eine Anleitung zur Verteidigung unserer Kultur (2017).
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2017 - XLIV. Sigmund Freud Lecture

William Kentridge: Defence of the Less Good Idea

Sunday, 7 May 2017, 11 a.m. at Burgtheater Vienna

William Kentridge - Photo: Marc Shoul
William Kentridge - Photo: Marc Shoul

Burgtheater Wien
Universitätsring 2, 1010 Wien

Tickets available from 3 April via and at the "Bundestheater" ticket offices

Introduction: Erik Porath

A Defence of the Less Good Idea (if the good doctor…)

Ideas that emerge in the process of making are what William Kentridge terms secondary ideas, or the less good ideas. He will use the activities of the studio as a demonstration of how we make meaning both practically and metaphorically. The studio as a space of contestation, play and free association turn it into a what Freud called a tummelplatz. Expanding from this description of studio practices, Kentridge will talk about the Centre for the Less Good Idea, an art centre in Johannesburg, the city where William Kentridge works, that is based around these ideas. In each case the practicalities of the rehearsal space become the metaphorics of constructing meaning in the world. (William Kentridge, 2017)

William Kentridge (born Johannesburg, South Africa) ranks among the most important contemporary artists world wide. His practice is born out of a crossfertilisation between mediums and genres, his work expands from drawing to film, opera and theater. In summer 2017, Museum der Moderne Salzburg shows a solo exhibition ‘Thick Time. Installations and Stagings’ (29 July – 5 November). At the Salzburg Festival (Salzburger Feststpiele) in July and August 2017 he directs the opera “Wozzeck” by Alban Berg.
Erik Porath is a philosopher, media scientist and artist. He studied in Hamburg and Basel, his PhD thesis „Gedächtnis des Unerinnerbaren. Philosophische und medientheoretische Untersuchungen zur Freudschen Psychoanalyse“ was published by transcript (Bielefeld) in 2005. He is the co-founder of the „Assoziation für die Freudsche Psychoanalyse“ (Association for Freudian Psychoanalysis/AFP) and worked for the „Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung“ (Center for Literary and Cultural Research) in Berlin from 2001-2010.

An event by the Sigmund Freud Foundation in cooperation with Burgtheater Wien on the occasion of Sigmund Freud's birthday on May 6
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2016 - XLIII. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Stefano Bolognini: The Humanizing Function of Contemporary Psychoanalytic Empathy

Saturday, 21 May 2016, 11 a.m. at Billrothhaus. Lecture in English

Stefano Bolognini
Stefano Bolognini

Gesellschaft der Ärzte in Wien, Billrothhaus
Frankgasse 8, 1090 Wien

Admission free, open seating

An event by the Sigmund Freud Foundation

Introduction: Gohar Homayounpour

In common language the word “empathy” evokes some superficial mix of sweet tenderness, benevolence a priori, friendly support and no interpretive penetration for disclosing the unconscious level of the psychic reality. In psychoanalysis “empathy” means something profoundly different. This paper emphasizes the difference between normal human empathy and psychoanalytic empathy, which is a much more complex phenomenon.

“True empathy is a condition of conscious and preconscious contact characterized by separateness, complexity and a linked structure, a wide perceptual spectrum including every colour in the emotional palette, from the lightest to the darkest; above all, it constitutes a progressive shared and deep contact with the complementarity of the object, with the other's defensive ego and split off parts no less than with his ego-syntonic subjectivity”(Bolognini, 1997).

Through three short clinical examples, the author will provide the audience with a lively and shareable experience of the depth, complexity and partial unpredictability of psychoanalytic empathy: something that cannot be planned, but that has to be recognized and appreciated as one of the most important and effective events that can change an analytic process and, consequently, the destiny of a patient’s life.

Stefano Bolognini; Doctor in Medicine and psychiatrist, training and supervising analyst of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society. He is the President of the International Psychoanalytical Association, after having been IPA Board Representative and chair of several IPA committees. Stefano Bolognini is a former President of the Bologna Psychoanalytic Center, former President of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society. For 10 years (2002-2012) he was member of the European Editorial Board of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He is the author of several books, participates regularly in radio and television debates and writes for main Italian newspapers and magazines.

Gohar Homayounpour was educated in Canada and the United States. She now lives and works in Tehran. Homayounpour is training and supervising psychoanalyst of the Freudian Group of Tehran, where she is founder and director. Lecturer at ShahidBeheshti University, Tehran. Her recent book Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran, 2012, won the Gradiva award and it has been translated into several languages. Homayounpour is a member of the advisory board at the Sigmund Freud Foundation in Vienna, the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) and the International research group Geographies of Psychoanalysis. 

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2015 - XLII. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Slavoj Zizek: Theology, Negativity, And the Death-Drive

Wednesday, 6 May 2015, 4:00 p.m. Burgtheater Wien

Slavoj Žižek
Slavoj Žižek

Tickets (8 EUR) available via and at all Bundestheater ticket offices

Welcome notes by Monika Pessler (Sigmund Freud Museum) and Karin Bergmann (Burgtheater Wien)

Introduction: Victor Mazin

Rowan Williams located the root of religious experience into our (human) “capacity for perversity, addictions, self-sacrifice, self-destruction and a whole range of ‘rationally’ indefensible behaviors” – that is, the very dimension of irreducible self-sabotaging, of the “pursuit of unhappiness” –,  and does this capacity not belong into the domain of the death-drive, of the weird overlapping between negativity and inertia that we encounter in a paradigmatic way in Hamlet? Hamlet doesn't kill Claudius when he sees him praying since if he were to do it at that moment, he would not strike at more than what is here, at that X that makes Claudius a king. This is also a problem – maybe even the problem - of revolutionaries: how not only to overturn power, but strike at what is more than mere power as a fact, and thus preventing that the ancient regime will return in a new guise? It is this uncertainty which propels Hamlet to procrastinate the act (of revenge), i.e., to use Hegel’s term, to tarry with the negative. Negativity is usually thought of as a dynamic entity consisting of struggles, cuts, and other modes of negation, but, as Andrew Cutrofello pointed out, what makes Hamlet a unique figure is that it stands for tarrying with the negative: Hamlet treats negativity itself as an expression of the melancholic inertia of being. Perhaps, then, the first move of what one can call “materialist theology” should be to discern this dimension of death-drive in divinity itself.

Slavoj Zizek

In Co-operation with the Burgtheater Wien

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