The Freud Museum


Why War? Exhibition Worksheet

You can answer all questions, or pick the questions that are most suitable for your group.


1. There are lots of artworks in the exhibition. Which one do you think would have been Freud’s favourite? Why?

2. We often hear of ‘the horror of war’, but this exhibition also emphasises the idea of ‘the pleasure of war’. In what ways can war be pleasurable?

3. Read the story War as Play – A Mother’s Story, which is in the exhibition room. Why do you think so many children (and adults) like to play war games?

4. Imagine you’re in charge of propaganda for a war effort. What techniques would you use to convince people to go to war? Can you use psychoanalytic ideas to explain why your techniques could be effective?

5. Freud sometimes described the mind itself as a kind of battleground. Why do you think he used this metaphor?

6. Many of the artworks on display for the Why War exhibition suggest a link between aggression and sexuality. Why do you think the artists have made this connection? Do you think there’s a connection there? Why?

7. Freud wrote to Einstein: ‘We pacifists have a constitutional intolerance of war’. In other words, it was part of their nature to be pacifists. Do you believe him?

8. Einstein’s question to Freud was: ‘Is there any way of delivering mankind from the menace of war?’ Can you come up with an answer?

Middle Eastern Scream, 2011, Fired clay, paint, Ibex horns © Jane McAdam Freud

Middle Eastern Scream, 2011, Fired clay, paint, Ibex horns © Jane McAdam Freud

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