The Freud Museum

Frequently Asked Questions

Where and when was Freud born?

In Freiberg, Moravia (now Príbor, Czech Republic) on 6th May 1856.

What was Freud's 'real' name?

His birth certificate has a single first name 'Sigismund'. A second name, variously transliterated from Hebrew as 'Schlomo' or 'Shelomoh' (versions of Solomon), comes from an inscription by his father in the family Bible addressing him by that name. It is one he never used himself. A school document first lists him as 'Sigmund' in 1871 but he only began signing himself 'Sigmund' in 1875 and this is the name subsequently used in his official documentation.

When did Freud discover psychoanalysis?

Freud used the French term "analyse psychique" in his 1894 paper 'Obsessions et phobies', but first used the German "Psychoanalyse" in 1896, in the paper 'Further Remarks on the Neuro-Psychoses of Defence'. However, the "cathartic therapy", from which psychoanalysis emerged, was pioneered by Dr Josef Breuer and his patient 'Anna O". [Bertha Pappenheim]. She described her therapy with him from 1880 to 1882 as a "talking cure".

What is psychology?

"Psychoanalysis is part of the mental science of psychology.  It is also described as 'depth psychology'.  If someone asks what 'the psychical' really means, it is easy to reply by enumerating its constituents: our perceptions, ideas, memories, feelings and acts of volition - all these form part of what is psychical." (Freud. 'Some Elementary Lessons in Psychoanalysis', 1938 [1940])

Who was Freud's best pupil?

Karl Abraham (1877-1925). ("I asked the Professor to name his 'best pupil' and he replied promptly, 'Karl Abraham'." From: John Dorsey.  'An American Psychiatrist in Vienna'.)

Why did Freud come to London?

To flee from the Nazis after the German annexation of Austria (the 'Anschluss') in March 1938.

How did Freud die?

He died in his study at 20 Maresfield Gardens, London on 23rd September, 1939. He was suffering from cancer of the jaw and a weak heart, but he chose to end his life - by prior agreement - with an overdose of morphine, administered by his doctor.

Where is Freud buried?

He was not buried because he was cremated. His ashes are interred in a Greek urn from his collection, in the Columbarium at Golders Green Crematorium, London.

How can I find out about Freud's life and work?

Given the mass of books on Freud, some (very selective) reading is necessary... See a brief reading list and a brief chronology.

How many children did Freud have?

Six - Mathilde (1887-1978), Jean Martin (1889-1967), Oliver (1891-1969), Ernst (1892-1970), Sophie (1893-1920) and Anna (1895-1982).

Did any of Freud's children also become psychoanalysts?

Yes, his youngest child, Anna Freud became a pioneering psychoanalyst of children, and an important theorist of psychoanalysis.

Press for more information on Anna Freud.

Where did Freud say, "What does woman want?" ["Was will das Weib?"]

In conversation with Marie Bonaparte in 1925, quoted by Ernest Jones in his biography (Ernest Jones. 'Sigmund Freud:Life and Work', Hogarth Press, London, 1955, Vol. 2 ,p.468)

Where did Freud say, "The poets and philosophers before me discovered the unconscious.  What I discovered was the scientific method by which the unconscious can be studied."?

This was first quoted by Philip R. Lehrman in 'Freud's Contributions to Science' (in the journal 'Harofe Haivri' Vol.1 (1940) and then cited by Lionel Trilling in 'Freud and Literature' (in 'The Liberal Imagination' [1940]). Credit for tracking this one down goes to Jeffrey Berman. He believes the remark was made in 1928 to Professor Becker in Berlin. (Also thanks to Norman N. Holland for bringing it to our attention.)

Where did Freud say that mental health meant the ability "to love and to work"?

This formula was cited by Erik Erikson but it is not to be found in Freud's works, although the sentiment is sometimes implied. During his long engagement Freud stated that his own ambition in life was to have Martha as his wife and to be able to work (e.g. "Couldn't I for once have you and the work at the same time?" Freud-Martha Bernays 21 Oct. 1885). Freud also referred to Eros and Ananke [Love and Necessity] as the foundations of society. In 'Civilization and Its Discontents' (1930) he wrote: "The communal life of human beings had, therefore, a two-fold foundation: the compulsion to work, which was created by external necessity, and the power of love... ". (S.E. XXI.101)

Where did Freud say four people are involved in any sexual act?

In a letter to Wilhelm Fliess, 1st August 1899: "I am also getting used to considering every sexual act as a process involving four individuals."

Where did Freud say, "Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar."?

If you know the answer to this one, please let us know because we have no idea...

Did Freud say of the Irish "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever."?

This remark is discussed in the Oscar-winning movie 'The Departed'. However, there is no evidence Freud ever said it.

How many cigars a day did Freud smoke?

According to his biographer Ernest Jones, he averaged twenty a day (presumably smaller ones) for most of his life. However, at various times of his life he tried to give up smoking for short periods, and in the last ten years of his life he had to ration his intake, owing to illness (cancer and heart problems). For instance, in 1930 he speaks of being down to one cigar a day.

Where is Freud's statue?

The seated statue of Freud sculpted by Oscar Nemon used to be in an alcove behind Swiss Cottage Library, where it was virtually hidden away from the public. In 1998, the Freud Museum arranged for it to be moved to a more prominent site and it now faces Fitzjohn's Avenue in Hampstead, opposite the junction with Maresfield Gardens. See map with directions.

What is the meaning of the Museum's former logo?

It was adapted from these doodles drawn by Freud in the early 1920s, during a meeting of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Because it represents a classical Greek motif it was considered a suitable emblem for the Museum, which contains Freud's collection of antiquities, including many Greek objects. The drawing also suggests a simplified labyrinth. 

Freud once said: "Psychoanalysis simplifies life. [..] it supplies the thread that leads a man out of the labyrinth of his own unconscious."
(George Sylvester Viereck. Glimpses of the Great.)

What is the origin of replicas of Freud's antiquities which have "CIBA-GEIGY" embossed on their base?

These replicas were produced for publicity purposes by Ciba Geigy which sponsored the travelling exhibition of Freud's antiquities in the late 1980's. More details of the original antiquities can be found in the catalogue of that exhibition: L. Gamwell and R. Wells (editors) Freud and Art: His Personal Collection of Antiquities published by State University of Binghampton and Freud Museum London, 1989. The replicas have no rarity or antiquity value.

How do I apply to exhibit at the Museum?

Our cutting-edge Exhibition Programme, in which artists create new work in response to the house, has attracted major artists, including Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger, Louise Bourgeois and Sarah Lucas.  Our programme is currently booked up until 2018/19 and we are not accepting unsolicited exhibition proposals.

Where did Freud say, "time spent with cats is never wasted"?

Although this quote is widely attributed to Freud on quotation websites, there is no evidence that he ever said it. He did, however, write to his friend Arnold Zweig: "I, as is well known, do not like cats". He was more of a dog person.

Where did Freud say, "I can heartily recommend the Gestapo to anyone"?

There is a widely repeated story that the Nazis made Freud sign a document stating that they had treated him with "respect and consideration". According to the story, Freud added beneath his signature: "I can heartily recommend the Gestapo to anyone". The document was subsequently found by researchers and contains no such comment.

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