Freud’s Pandemics: A Traumatological Biography
Friday 1 October 2021
With Dr Doris Brothers and Professor Brett Kahr, and with discussants Dr Valerie Sinason and Professor Neil Vickers
- Includes a recording of the event with access for a year (14 days post the event)
- Bookings close at 9:00am BST Tuesday 28 September
Sigmund Freud devoted much of his professional life to the treatment and cure of many severely traumatised patients. But it may well be that Freud actually endured far more trauma in his own private life than most of his analysands.READ MORE...
Quite apart from his complex childhood, filled with broken attachments and multiple bereavements, he subsequently had to navigate many decades of assaults, ranging from anti-Semitic abuse, to the near-death of his sons during the Great War, to the loss of one of his daughters from Spanish Flu, followed not long thereafter by sixteen years of painful, primitive surgeries for his metastasising oral cancer and, ultimately, by the Nazi occupation of Vienna.
Prof Brett Kahr, drawing upon his many years of archival research and his forthcoming book, Freud’s Pandemics: Surviving global war, Spanish flu, and the Nazis, will help us to understand how and why Freud succeeded in surviving these multiple pandemics when so many others would have succumbed to psychosis or death.
Dr Doris Brothers will consider how aspects of Freudian theory itself might reveal the likelihood that Freud sustained life-changing traumas.
Our two presenters will be joined by Dr Valerie Sinason and Prof Neil Vickers to further elaborate on some of the issues raised.
14.00 BST (09.00 EDT)
Prof Brett Kahr
Freud’s Private Traumata: Surviving Horrifying Explosions
Shortly after the death of Sigmund Freud in 1939, his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, exclaimed that anyone else who had lived such a burdened life would have committed suicide. But Freud, full of robustness, managed to persevere until the age of eighty-three. How did he survive his innumerable pandemics? In this introductory session, Brett Khar will explore the range of traumata experienced by Freud throughout his lifetime and will investigate what sorts of coping strategies kept him alive and creative and capable of inventing the “talking cure”. Brett will also consider how Freud might have handled the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020-2021, and how his invention of psychoanalysis might well form the basis of a “psychological vaccination”.
Dr Doris Brothers
Secrets Freud Kept From Himself
Our traumatic experiences alone do not mark our lives; it is what we do to recapture a sense of certainty about surviving in their aftermath that changes us. In her presentation, Doris Brothers will try to show how aspects of Freudian theory itself might reveal the possibility that Freud sustained life-changing traumas. Doris will draw on insights by Stolorow and Atwood in Faces in a Cloud, to show how the lives of theorists influence their personality theories. She will explain Freud’s dramatic repudiation of his original trauma theory in these terms as well as his tendency to rely on binaries such as conscious-unconscious, ego instincts-libidinal instincts, and narcissistic-object libido.
Prof Brett Kahr
Interview with Prof Neil Vickers on Freud’s Pandemics: Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis.
Prof Brett Kahr
Conversation with Dr Valerie Sinason linking this traumatologically-orientated biography of Freud to the current state of thinking about global trauma.
Q&A with Prof Brett Kahr & Dr Doris Brothers