Sigmund Freud
© Max Halberstadt

Sigmund Freud Superstar

In early 1876, nothing suggested that 19-year-old medical student Sigmund Freud would one day become a great scientist and the cartographer of the Viennese soul. Quite the opposite: he was standing – haunted by the disappointment of a first love lost and struggling with poverty – in the zoology department in Trieste and, scalpel in hand, attempting to determine the location of the sex organs of an eel. His anatomy teacher admired the zeal with which he went about this task. For his doctoral thesis in 1881, Freud wrote about the nervous systems of lower fish species.

Today he is a household name all over the world. He remains one of the most oft-cited academics, and his fame continues undiminished. In China in particular his popularity continues to grow. His book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, written 120 years ago, is more relevant than ever. The Freud Museum in Vienna will reopen in May 2020, and early in 2020 streaming giant Netflix releases an Austrian series that will be available to 148 million households and in 30 different languages: ‘Freud’ is a portrait of a developing young man, who was no stranger to controversy with his passionate belief in his theories.

„He was a genius“

Freud had little success with his fish. So in 1885, after a period of study in Paris, he began to focus on psychopathology and, step by step, started laying bare the structures of human soul. A bold undertaking. Desire and aggression; the repression of drives and neuroses. Who wants to hear that we are not master in our own house, that the unconscious has us on a merry-go-round, and that what we see in other people is just the tip of the iceberg? Freud opened up chasms that changed everything: art, science, society – our picture of the human being.

“The time was ripe and he was simply a genius,” explains Professor Alfred Pritz, the founding rector of the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. “Freud is a guiding figure in the understanding of the modern soul. He had his weaknesses, but we have to approach him overall as a historical personality. There is no one like him in the world in our discipline.” It is due in no small part to Freud that in 2021 and 2023 a neurology and a psychotherapy congress will take place in Vienna, with 9,000 delegates expected altogether. Pritz also underlines what a great achievement it was to develop psychoanalysis into a teachable method. “He showed that it is possible to ease people’s suffering and to heal them by means of a special, respectful relationship,” says Pritz. Freud was able to provide relief to and even heal many of the “crazy” people that entered his private practice at number 19, Berggasse in Vienna – simply by talking, with a couch as the only treatment aid.

Freud's legacy

The spirit of the time in Vienna around 1900 made Freud’s work possible. But there were also outstanding practitioners elsewhere. Naturally there were precursors to Freud’s thinking, but he set new standards. His legacy was taken further by the young acolytes who flocked to the great maestro. At Mariannengasse 1 in Vienna there is a museum dedicated to Viktor Frankl, whose work focused on the question of meaning in life.

During his lifetime Freud was known in Europe as well as in North and South America. And yet he was plagued by self-doubt; at the end of each working day he analyzed himself, as he also suffered from internal conflicts and messed-up relationships. Criticism of “unscientific” new teachings continued unabated, but his devotees venerated him all the more. In death, he retains his revered position in history. His appearance on Netflix would surely have pleased him.

Sigmund Freud Museum

Berggasse 19, 1090 Wien
  • Prices

    • Free audio guides in German, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian.
    • Your benefit with the Vienna City Card: 29% off , 3,50€ off
  • Opening times

    • Mo, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Tu, 10:00 - 18:00
    • We, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Th, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Fr, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Sa, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Su, 10:00 - 18:00
    • The Sigmund Freud Museum is closed from March 1, 2019 to May 2020 for remodeling work. During this time, the museum will move to two locations in the immediate vicinity. See website for information.
  • Accessibility

    • Main entrance
      • 35 Steps
    • Further information
      • Seeing eye dogs allowed
add to my travel plan

Exhibition „Dalí – Freud“

From October 23, 2020 to March 7, 2021, the Lower Belvedere will present an exhibition entitled Dalí – Freud, which examines Freud’s influence on the great surrealist painter.

Lower Belvedere, Orangery (Belvedere - Unteres Belvedere & Orangerie)

Rennweg 6, 1030 Wien
  • Prices

    • Young people under 19   €0 €
  • Opening times

    • Mo, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Tu, 10:00 - 18:00
    • We, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Th, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Fr, 10:00 - 21:00
    • Sa, 10:00 - 18:00
    • Su, 10:00 - 18:00
  • Accessibility

    • Main entrance
      • ( Door  90  cm  wide )
        Rennweg 6
      • Ramp 600  cm  long , 200  cm  high
    • Elevator available
      • 140 cm wide and 90 cm low
    • Further information
      • Seeing eye dogs allowed
      • Wheelchair accessible restroom available.
    • Special offers for people with disabilities

      Guided tours for groups in Austrian sign language and for the visually impaired (tactile tours).
      Reduced admission for persons with special needs and their escorts.

    • Comments

      Lower Belvedere Shop & Orangerie: no steps

      Orangery entrance: wheelchair access via link corridor from Lower Belvedere to the Orangery, 2 single, paned doors (each 131 cm wide). Wheelchair-accessible restroom in the Orangery.

add to my travel plan

Text: Stefan Müller

Teilen, bewerten und Feedback
Rate this article
Recommend article

Please complete all the mandatory fields marked with *.
The data and email addresses you provide will not be saved or used for other purposes.

From
to
Feedback to the vienna.info editorial team

Please complete all the mandatory fields marked with *.

Title *