Freud Museum London: Psychoanalysis Podcasts A treasure trove of ideas in psychoanalysis. History, theory, and psychoanalytic perspectives on a diverse range of topics. www.freud.org.uk

August 28, 2015  

Exciting things are happening at the Freud Museum London this summer. A century after Sigmund Freud’s revolutionary ideas reached a wider public, his final home, dedicated to preserving his legacy, has invited artists, designers, writers and performers to revisit Freud’s seminal paper The Unconscious (1915)

Using a combination of psychological games, scientific and historical information and engaging displays and workshops, The Festival of the Unconscious will encourage visitors to think and learn about the unconscious mind and how it influences our behaviour.

The Museum will become a strange and mysterious place, where writings, objects and artistic works will offer insights into unconscious experience. Newly commissioned films by animators from Kingston University will weave through the house; sound and video installations by London-based art project Disinformation will occupy the dining room, and an installation by stage designers from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, inspired by the work of cosmologist Carlos Frenk, will spectacularly transform Freud’s study. Visitors can contemplate their own unconscious associations through a personal display developed by Julian Rothenstein, co-author of the best-selling ‘Psychobox’. Finally there will be the unique opportunity of reclining and free-associating on a psychoanalytic couch, in Freud’s bedroom.

Artistic contributions include The Dream Collector by Melanie Manchot, a 5-channel synched video and sound installation filmed in Mexico City - on view for the first time in the UK.Melanie Mckennell's Dreamweaving tapestry hangs nearby. Collaborative artists Brass Art present a video piece which uses Kinect scanners to capture intimate-scaled performances in the museum with sound composed by Monty Adkins. Other works include The Unconscious Project by art therapists teaching on the MA Art Psychotherapy course at Goldsmiths, University of London, while Sarah Ainslie andMartin Bladh will display works offering modern takes on the ‘Thematic Apperception Test’ and the Rorschach ink blot test. A set of Freudian Dreamcatchers by Jane Hoodlesstakes its inspiration from the dream symbols discussed in Freud's famous work 'The Interpretation of Dreams'.

A season of wide-ranging and imaginative events, conferences and workshops accompany the exhibition. Highlights include Digging the Unconscious, a participatory archaeological dig in Freud’s garden, with performance artistlili Spain on 9 August, and a major interdisciplinary conference with keynote speakers Mark Solms and Salman Akhtar on 26/27 September. You can unlock your unconscious with workshops in dramapoetry and art,while Hip Hop poet Reveal will perform and talk about Freestyle Rap and its relation to unconscious communication.

After the exhibition is over, the Festival events still continue with a major conference jointly organised with the British Journal of Psychotherapy. Mentalization and the Unconsciouswill take place on 28th November, with keynote speakers Nicola Abel-Hirsch, Catherine Freeman, Jean Knox, and Mary Target. Co-organiser and chair for the day is BJP editor, Ann Scott.

Have you ever done something without knowing why?

Despite the fact that the term is now associated with Freud, the existence of unconscious processes in the mind was recognised long before him. What Freud introduced was the revolutionary notion of a dynamic unconscious, working in a different way from consciousness, with its own kind of logic. He posited a part of the mind in which ideas associated with ‘wishful impulses’, childhood experiences and unacceptable thoughts are hidden from conscious awareness but continue to motivate our behaviour. Starting with his own dreams, he went on to show that the unconscious reveals itself not only in the unexplained symptoms of ‘mental illness’ but in countless manifestations of everyday life.

We laugh at a joke, but we don’t know why. A slip of the tongue reveals an embarrassing thought or a hidden intention. Thoughts come into our head, but where do they come from? We repeat patterns of self-destructive behaviour or plague ourselves with irrational fears. It is as if everything we do or say has a hidden dimension, a sub-text. The discovery of the unconscious means that we are no longer ‘masters in our own house’ – we literally do not know who we are.

In 1915, Freud wrote his paper on The Unconscious, which was an attempt to give scientific account of how the unconscious works. It is not an entirely successful paper, grappling as he is with the ‘unknown’. He makes hypotheses, modifies them, tries again. Freud often finds himself in the position of a cosmologist, trying to give an account of what is in a black hole, or what ‘cold dark matter’ is composed of. They just don’t know. But they know dark matter and black holes exist, obey their own laws and affect the galaxies in which they find themselves.

Freud’s metapsychology may not have the same impact as his captivating case histories or his books on dreams, jokes, and slips of the tongue, but his 1915 paper established ‘the unconscious’ as the principal object of psychoanalysis and the key term of its theory.

The Festival of the Unconscious invites visitors to explore Freud’s challenging idea through talks, performances and a major exhibition. As befits such an elusive concept, most of the works on display are not designed to transmit knowledge, but to evoke something of the visitor’s own unconscious. By engaging with them, we hope visitors may catch a glimpse of a world that is both strange and familiar.

Freud Museum exhibitions are free with admission

An exciting season of talks, performances, conferences and events accompany the exhibition.

Watch Now:
August 20, 2015  

Author's Talk: John Foot - Chaired by Graham Music 

Writer and Professor of Modern Italian History, John Foot discusses his latest publication, The Man Who Closed the Asylums (Verso August 2015) - The fascinating story of Franco Basaglia, one of the key intellectual and cultural figures of 1960s counterculture—a contemporary of R.D. Laing who worked to overturn institutions from within and ended up transforming mental health care in Italy.

Inspired by the writings of authors such as Primo Levi, R. D. Laing, Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault and Frantz Fanon, and the practices of experimental therapeutic communities in the UK, Basaglia’s seminal work as a psychiatrist and campaigner in Gorizia, Parma and Trieste fed into and substantially contributed to the national and international movement of 1968. In 1978 a law was passed (the ‘Basaglia law’) which sanctioned the closure of the entire Italian asylum system.

The first comprehensive study of this revolutionary approach to mental health care, The Man Who Closed the Asylums is a gripping account of one of the most influential movements in twentieth- century psychiatry, which helped to transform the way we see mental illness. Basaglia’s work saved countless people from a miserable existence, and his legacy persists, as an object lesson in the struggle against the brutality and ignorance that the establishment peddles to the public as common sense.

John Foot is Professor of Modern Italian History in the School of Modern Languages, University of Bristol. He has published several books on sports and contemporary Italian history. He writes a blog for the Italian magazine Internazionale and has written for the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, and History Today. He was Co-editor of the journal Modern Italy between 2010 and 2014.

Graham Music (PHD) is Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman Clinics and an adult psychotherapist in private practice. His publications include Nurturing Natures,Attachment and Children's Emotional, Sociocultural and Brain Development (2011), Affect and Emotion(2001), and 'The Good Life: Wellbeing and the new science of altruism, selfishness and Immoralityl' (2014). He has a particular interest in exploring the interface between developmental findings and clinical work. Formerly Associate Clinical Director of the Tavstock's child and family department, he has worked therapeutically with maltreated children for over two decades, has managed a range of services concerned with the aftermath of child maltreatment and neglect and organised many community based psychotherapy services,. He has recently been working clinically with forensic cases at the Portman clinic. He teaches, lectures and supervises on a range of trainings in Britain and abroad.

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Lecture and performance: 

How do ideas pop into your head? You can think about the answer to this question at a lecture and performance about the art of Freestyle Rap by Hip-Hop artist and spoken word poet, Reveal. Using recent studies in neurology and psychology, theories of memory schemata and ideas about unconscious communication, Reveal will explore the basis of his craft within the resonant environment of the Freud Museum, and in a practical demonstration will improvise a rap to words and questions called out by members of the audience. 

Reveal is a London based Iranian Hip-Hop artist, ethnomusicologist and writer. He was born in Tehran, Iran in 1983 and moved to London aged 2 with his parents, mainly to escape the Iran-Iraq war. He was raised in inner city London but continued to travel back to Tehran regularly. Having links to such contrasting urban environments has provided him with a sense of dual identity for most of his life. At a young age Reveal began performing Hip-Hop music and releasing songs under the Artist name "Reveal Poison", and at aged 16 he won the 2000 UK Freestyle Knock-out Battle Rap Championships. He went on to form the group “Poisonous Poets” who were one of the first ever UK Hip-Hop acts to be signed to a major record label, penning a deal with BMG/Arista in 2001. It was around this period that he first became aware of the emerging Persian Hip-Hop scene in Iran and he travelled back to Tehran to begin a series of collaborations with the city's artists. Reveal is currently enrolled on a Mmus Ethnomusicology programme at SOAS where he is studying part-time alongside doing youth work, touring and releasing music.

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