This morning, I woke up pleasantly late to meet some friends from my Personality Theories and Psychopathology class. We gathered right off the Kettenbrückengasse U-Bahn stop and walked quickly through the yelping stalls for the most sumptuous Israeli breakfast at a small restaurant called Neni. We all sat, surrounded by our stripped-off coats, and smiled the entire time. We’d done some traveling the previous weekend, so stories of Venice, Prague, and Salzburg bubbled up. My little skillet of baked eggs and vegetables was sprinkled with chopped parsley, and that’s precisely the sort of breakfast I wish I could have every morning.
Then we traveled over to the Sigmund Freud museum, picking up fellow classmates in the U-Bahn station, then tram, the entire way. There ended up being a large puddle of us that filled up an entire car of the Straßenbahn. When we met our professor in front of the museum and filed through the courtyard and up the stairs, it was the intimacy of the space that struck me. The museum itself is what used to be Freud and his family’s living space in Vienna. This is also the place where Freud would perform psychoanalysis. We were given a tour of the large apartment, where some of Freud’s “dirty gods,” the ancient mementos he collected while traveling, coat, and hat were displayed. We saw his red and rich oak waiting room, where people waited to be heard, also where Freud and his colleagues would meet to discuss psychoanalysis and take smoking breaks (probably more likely than we'd like to think). We also wandered through the space where that famous couch used to be. We saw where his wife would seclude herself from her husband’s work, and we saw the place where one of his daughters resided. I, like many others I’m sure, am not a fervent fan of Freud, the man. I appreciate what his mind and efforts did to open up our questioning about the psyche, and I would be ignorant to pass off all of his theories as 100% bogus, but in all honesty, reading up on his theories makes me feel uncomfortable and resentful. I have dismissed Freud as 100% bogus before. You could say I owed Freud a whole lot of compassion, and some forgiveness, too. After all, he was a man, and bright, helpful one at that. Walking around the space where he lived with his family changed things for me. I was roaming through the apartment’s rooms after our class’ tour, and I ended up sitting in a dark room where a woman’s voice was playing kindly. It was Anna Freud’s voice narrating her family's home videos.
I saw footage of Freud teasing a tiny girl who offered him a present at his birthday celebration in the country. I saw his family wrapping him up in blankets when he fell sick. I saw him lounging in the yard with his wife and son, while he smoked a cigar. I saw him being playful with his beloved pup. I held moving pictures of him in my head: Freud doubting himself at his desk; Freud grieving the death of his "favorite" daughter before he fell asleep for years; Freud lighting a cigar and singing his finger once. It got me thinking about how beautifully, humanly mundane it is that I got to be in Freud’s home that way, so that I didn't have to just take him or throw him out for his theories. I also got to see where he came from, where he sat and bloomed out from, where he fled when his family was in danger, and what he left behind.
It made me think of how much I want to hear people’s stories, because stories are never just stories. Hearing humans' stories puts us in touch with our worth, that is much tinier, and more significant, than we know. It made me think that Freud was just a man. He wasn't more or less than that. It made me think of how I am a woman, not more or less, and I want my story to be more than just words on paper. It made me think that Freud is not so worthy of resentment, and much worthier of my compassion.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hello, hello! I'm Lauren Franklin, and I'm a junior at the University of San Diego. I'm an English major with a minor in psychology, and I'm trying to squeeze in as many theology and art classes as I possibly can. I would love to be the sort of student who's constantly found in the library studying away, but that's not always the case here: What bring me the most joy are grand stories, fresh produce, the green rolling outdoors, and creating and learning with friends who want to venture out together.</p>