1.5 CEU’s

Freud’s collection of “antiquities” is well known, and most commonly associated the famous photographs taken in May 1938 by Edmund Engelman. But this was the collection in literally its last moments in Vienna, just prior to Freud’s forced exile to London. Of the over 2000 objects that filled his working spaces, we know its end far better than its start. This presentation will investigate when, and perhaps why, this collection began. The narrative is set at a moment of tumult in Freud’s work – during the autumn of 1897 – when he would reject his belief, powerfully voiced the year before, that sexual abuse in childhood was the cause of “hysteria.”   The value he ascribed to fragments of history took a highly consequential turn as he came to valorize fantasy over events of trauma, one that would impact both the construction of psychoanalysis to follow and the working space in which it was first practiced and recorded.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the role of material objects, particularly those of the distant past, on Freud’s emerging theories of an unconscious.
2. Assess the impact of external phenomena, such objects and archaeological sites, on the early language of psychoanalysis.
3. Critique the ideas of value, worth, and selectivity in Freud’s early shaping of psychical functioning.

Diane O’Donoghue is Director of the Program for Public Humanities and Senior Fellow for the Humanities at the Jonathan M. Tisch College for Civic Life, at Tufts University, where she has chaired the Department of Visual and Critical Studies. She is also Visiting Professor for Public Humanities at Brown University and a scholar member of and on the faculty at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Her work on Freud’s early formulations of psychoanalysis has been awarded the Peter Loewenberg (formerly CORST) Prize from the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Deutsch Prize. Most recently she is the author of On Dangerous Ground: Freud’s Visual Cultures of the Unconscious (Bloomsbury, 2019) and is this year’s recipient of the Robert Liebert Award, presented by the Psychoanalytic Center at Columbia University in recognition of interdisciplinary scholarship involving psychoanalysis and the humanities.

Armstrong, Richard H. A Compulsion for Antiquity: Freud and the Ancient World. Ithaca, NY; London: Cornell University Press, 2005.

Freud, Sigmund. “The Aetiology of Hysteria.” 1896. SE 3, 189–221.

Freud, Sigmund. The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887–1904. Translated and edited by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. Cambridge, MA; London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1985. 

O’Donoghue, Diane. On Dangerous Ground: Freud’s Visual Cultures of the Unconscious. New York; London: Bloomsbury, 2019.

Westen, Drew. The scientific legacy of Sigmund Freud: Toward a psychodynamically informed psychological science. Psychological Bulletin, 124(3), 1998: 333-371.


Date(s) - December 4, 2019
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm


Online bookings are not available for this event.