Sigmund Freud Lecture

The Sigmund Freud Foundation invites to the annual Sigmund Freud Lecture on the occasion of Sigmund Freud's birthday on 6 May.


2020 - XLVII. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Jacqueline Rose: Trans, Sexual Harassment, Psychoanalysis: Returning to Freud

Wednesday, 6 May 2020, 7 pm, Billrothhaus, Frankgasse 8, 1090 Vienna

An event by the Sigmund Freud Foundation in cooperation with the Society of Physicians in Vienna
Free admission, please register, free seating
Welcome: Monika Pessler
Introduction: Rubén Gallo
Trans, Sexual Harassment, Psychoanalysis: Returning to Freud
(Lecture in German)
Drawing on her long-term engagement with psychoanalytic thought and, more recently, with the subject of sexual harassment and trans experience, Jacqueline Rose will argue in this lecture that the true complexity of these vexed issues of our time can only be grasped by returning to Freud. From the beginning, sexual abuse and the radical uncertainty of sexual identity run right through the core of Freud’s work. While these two facets of the modern world might seem at first glance to belong at opposite poles of the human and political spectrum, they are – in a way that only psychoanalysis can fathom – deeply linked. What happens when we try to insert the concept of the unconscious into the reality of our political lives? Or rather, when we recognise the place of the unconscious in the public identities we foster, inhabit, and fight? Both sexual harassment and trans experience confront us with the question of social justice. Is it always the role of psychoanalysis to issue a caution in relation to our dreams of a better world, or might it belong, alongside literary writing, right at the heart of our struggle to attain it?
Jacqueline Rose is Professor of Humanities and Co-Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London. Internationally known for her writing on feminism, psychoanalysis, literature, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, her writing has been translated into many languages. Her books include Jacques Lacan and the école freudienne (editor with Juliet Mitchell and translator) (1982), Sexuality in the Field of Vision (1986), reprinted in the series Verso Radical Thinkers, The Haunting of Sylvia Plath (1991), States of Fantasy (1996), The Question of Zion (2005), Women in Dark Times (2014), and the novel Albertine (2001). A Jacqueline Rose Reader was published in 2011. Her latest book, Mothers – An Essay on Love and Cruelty, was published in 2018. A regular writer for The London Review of Books, she is a co-founder of Independent Jewish Voices in the UK, and in 2018 was a member of the jury for the Booker Prize. On Violence and On Violence Against Women will be published early next year. She is a Fellow of the British Academy.
Rubén Gallo is the Walter S. Carpenter Jr. Professor at Princeton University as well as a member of the board of the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna. He is the author, among other works, of Conversación en Princeton (2017), with Mario Vargas Llosa, Proust’s Latin Americans (2014), an essay about Proust’s Latin American circle of friends in turn-of-the-last century Paris; Freud’s Mexico: Into the Wilds of Psychoanalysis (2010), a cultural history of psychoanalysis and its reception in Mexico. He is the recipient of the Gradiva award for the best book on a psychoanalytic theme and of the Modern Language Association’s Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for the best book on a Latin American topic. His work has been translated into Spanish, French, and Italian.
Photo: Jacqueline Rose, credit Jonathan Ring
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2019 - XLVI. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Jan Assmann: Moses tragicus. Freud, Schönberg und der scheiternde Moses

Monday, 6 May 2019, 7 pm, Billrothhaus, Frankgasse 8, 1090 Vienna

Video of the Sigmund Freud Lecture

An event by the Sigmund Freud Foundation in cooperation with the Society of Physicians in Vienna
Welcome: Monika Pessler
Introduction: Herman Westerink
Moses tragicus. Freud, Schönberg und der scheiternde Moses
(Lecture in German)
Im Kampf gegen den anschwellenden Antisemitismus widmen in den frühen 30er-Jahren Sigmund Freud und Arnold Schönberg der Gestalt des Moses eines ihrer Hauptwerke, Freud sein Buch Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion und Schönberg seine Oper Moses und Aron. Beide lassen Mose an der Aufgabe, seine neue Religion zu verkünden, scheitern. Bei Freud wird Mose erschlagen, bei Schönberg versinkt er in Verzweiflung. Beide Werke beleuchten den tragischen Aspekt der monotheistischen Religion in der sich ausbreitenden Wüste von Gewalt und Verblendung. Der Vortrag wird die psychoanalytischen Aspekte bei Freud und die musikologischen bei Schönberg ausblenden und sich ihren Mose-Gestalten aus einer allgemeinen kultur- und religionsgeschichtlichen Perspektive widmen.
(Jan Assmann, 2019)
Jan Assmann war von 1976-2003 Professor für Ägyptologie in Heidelberg und ist seit 2005 Honorarprofessor für Kultur- und Religionswissenschaft in Konstanz. Forschungsschwerpunkte waren und sind neben archäologischer Feldarbeit (Thebanische Nekropolen) ägyptische Religion und Literatur in theoretischer und vergleichender Perspektive, Kulturtheorie, allgemeine Religionswissenschaft (Polytheismus, Kosmotheismus und Monotheismus) sowie die Rezeption Ägyptens in der europäischen Geistesgeschichte (Moses der Ägypter, Die Zauberflöte, Das Oratorium Israel in Egypt von Georg Friedrich Händel). Ebenso wie zu Schönbergs Oper hat sich Assmann zu Freuds Moses-Buch in zahlreichen Aufsätzen geäußert und es 2010 bei Reclam neu herausgegeben. Gemeinsam mit seiner Frau Aleida Assmann entwickelte er die Theorie des Kulturellen Gedächtnisses; beide erhielten 2017 den Balzan-Preis sowie 2018 den Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels.
Herman Westerink ist außerordentlicher Professor für Religionsphilosophie und interkulturelle Philosophie an der Radboud University Nijmegen und hat eine Stiftungsprofessor für Psychoanalyse und Mystikforschung an der KU Leuven inne. Außerdem ist er stellvertretender Vorsitzender des Beirates der Sigmund Freud Privatstiftung. Er hat zahlreiche Bücher und Aufsätze über Psychoanalyse, Sexualität, Pathologie und Religion verfasst. Seine letzten Publikationen umfassen Kommentare über sowie Ausgaben von Freuds Erstausgabe der Drei Abhandlungen über Sexualtheorie (1905) (2015, mit Philippe van Haute) und den Sammelband Dora – Hysteria – Gender. Reconsidering Freud’s First Case Study (2018, mit Daniela Finzi).
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2018 - XLV. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Philipp Blom: Let Me Tell You a Story. Narrative Selves in Times of Turmoil

Sunday, 6 May 2018, 11 am, Billrothhaus, Frankgasse 8, 1090 Vienna

Video of the Sigmund Freud Lecture

Lecture in German
An event by the Sigmund Freud Foundation in cooperation with Society of Physicians in Vienna
Free admission, please register, free seating
Welcome: Monika Pessler
Introduction: Carlo Strenger
Let Me Tell You A Story
Narrative Selves in Times of Turmoil
Stories shape our thoughts, our feelings our deepest reflexes. Through them we become members of a particular family, a culture, a class, a generation - through them we become ourselves. Human beings appear to have a powerful need for projected meaning, for a plot, for beginning, middle, and end, for a sense to all the things happening around us, and to us. We use stories to impose meaning on the randomness of experience. 
But what is our relationship to the stories that form us and to our need for them? Does our attitude to stories have a particular significance in an age of fake news? In this Sigmund Freud Lecture I will explore the meanings storytelling in face of a crisis of language and factual reporting from the perspective of a historian, a professional storyteller whose task it is to create meaning out of facts. In the company of Denis Diderot and Sigmund Freud I will investigate how it is possible to live with our urge for the counterfactual, the good yarn, the great narrative, a constant temptation to suspend our disbelief. The power of stories, after all, is deeply ambivalent.
(Philipp Blom, 2018)
Philipp Blom, born in 1970 in Hamburg, studied philosophy, history and Jewish studies in Vienna and Oxford. He lives in Vienna and works there as an author and historian. He received numerous awards, for example the Prize NDR Nonfiction Prize or the Getty Reseach Institute scholarship in Los Angeles. His latest publications include: The Vertigo Years. Europe 1900 – 1914 (2008), A Wicked Company (2010), Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938 (2015), Die Welt aus den Angeln. Eine Geschichte der Kleinen Eiszeit von 1570 bis 1700 sowie der modernen Welt, verbunden mit einigen Überlegungen zum Klima der Gegenwart (2017) and the novel Bei Sturm am Meer (2016).
Carlo Strenger is an existential psychoanalyst, philosopher and public intellectual and serves as Professor of Psychology and Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. He is a member of the Scientific Board of the Sigmund Freud Foundation in Vienna, of the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles and is on the Terrorism Monitoring Panel of the World Federation of Scientists. He is a columnist at Israel’s leading Newspaper Haaretz and Neue Zürcher Zeitung among others. His latest publications include Zivilisierte Verachtung. Eine Anleitung zur Verteidigung unserer Freiheit (2015), Freud’s Legacy in the Global Era (2016) and Abenteuer Freiheit. Eine Anleitung zur Verteidigung unserer Kultur (2017).
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2017 - XLIV. Sigmund Freud Lecture

William Kentridge: Defence of the Less Good Idea

Sunday, 7 May 2017, 11 a.m. at Burgtheater Vienna

Video of the Sigmund Freud Lecture

Burgtheater Wien
Universitätsring 2, 1010 Wien

Tickets available from 3 April via and at the "Bundestheater" ticket offices

Introduction: Erik Porath

A Defence of the Less Good Idea (if the good doctor…)

Ideas that emerge in the process of making are what William Kentridge terms secondary ideas, or the less good ideas. He will use the activities of the studio as a demonstration of how we make meaning both practically and metaphorically. The studio as a space of contestation, play and free association turn it into a what Freud called a tummelplatz. Expanding from this description of studio practices, Kentridge will talk about the Centre for the Less Good Idea, an art centre in Johannesburg, the city where William Kentridge works, that is based around these ideas. In each case the practicalities of the rehearsal space become the metaphorics of constructing meaning in the world. (William Kentridge, 2017)

William Kentridge (born Johannesburg, South Africa) ranks among the most important contemporary artists world wide. His practice is born out of a crossfertilisation between mediums and genres, his work expands from drawing to film, opera and theater. In summer 2017, Museum der Moderne Salzburg shows a solo exhibition ‘Thick Time. Installations and Stagings’ (29 July – 5 November). At the Salzburg Festival (Salzburger Feststpiele) in July and August 2017 he directs the opera “Wozzeck” by Alban Berg.
Erik Porath is a philosopher, media scientist and artist. He studied in Hamburg and Basel, his PhD thesis „Gedächtnis des Unerinnerbaren. Philosophische und medientheoretische Untersuchungen zur Freudschen Psychoanalyse“ was published by transcript (Bielefeld) in 2005. He is the co-founder of the „Assoziation für die Freudsche Psychoanalyse“ (Association for Freudian Psychoanalysis/AFP) and worked for the „Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung“ (Center for Literary and Cultural Research) in Berlin from 2001-2010.

An event by the Sigmund Freud Foundation in cooperation with Burgtheater Wien on the occasion of Sigmund Freud's birthday on May 6
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2016 - XLIII. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Stefano Bolognini: The Humanizing Function of Contemporary Psychoanalytic Empathy

Saturday, 21 May 2016, 11 a.m. at Billrothhaus. Lecture in English

Video of the Sigmund Freud Lecture

Gesellschaft der Ärzte in Wien, Billrothhaus
Frankgasse 8, 1090 Wien
Admission free, open seating
An event by the Sigmund Freud Foundation

Introduction: Gohar Homayounpour
In common language the word “empathy” evokes some superficial mix of sweet tenderness, benevolence a priori, friendly support and no interpretive penetration for disclosing the unconscious level of the psychic reality. In psychoanalysis “empathy” means something profoundly different. This paper emphasizes the difference between normal human empathy and psychoanalytic empathy, which is a much more complex phenomenon.

“True empathy is a condition of conscious and preconscious contact characterized by separateness, complexity and a linked structure, a wide perceptual spectrum including every colour in the emotional palette, from the lightest to the darkest; above all, it constitutes a progressive shared and deep contact with the complementarity of the object, with the other's defensive ego and split off parts no less than with his ego-syntonic subjectivity”(Bolognini, 1997).

Through three short clinical examples, the author will provide the audience with a lively and shareable experience of the depth, complexity and partial unpredictability of psychoanalytic empathy: something that cannot be planned, but that has to be recognized and appreciated as one of the most important and effective events that can change an analytic process and, consequently, the destiny of a patient’s life.

Stefano Bolognini; Doctor in Medicine and psychiatrist, training and supervising analyst of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society. He is the President of the International Psychoanalytical Association, after having been IPA Board Representative and chair of several IPA committees. Stefano Bolognini is a former President of the Bologna Psychoanalytic Center, former President of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society. For 10 years (2002-2012) he was member of the European Editorial Board of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He is the author of several books, participates regularly in radio and television debates and writes for main Italian newspapers and magazines.

Gohar Homayounpour was educated in Canada and the United States. She now lives and works in Tehran. Homayounpour is training and supervising psychoanalyst of the Freudian Group of Tehran, where she is founder and director. Lecturer at ShahidBeheshti University, Tehran. Her recent book Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran, 2012, won the Gradiva award and it has been translated into several languages. Homayounpour is a member of the advisory board at the Sigmund Freud Foundation in Vienna, the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) and the International research group Geographies of Psychoanalysis. 

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2015 - XLII. Sigmund Freud Lecture

Slavoj Zizek: Theology, Negativity, And the Death-Drive

Wednesday, 6 May 2015, 4:00 p.m. Burgtheater Wien

Slavoj Žižek
Slavoj Žižek

Tickets (8 EUR) available via and at all Bundestheater ticket offices

Welcome notes by Monika Pessler (Sigmund Freud Museum) and Karin Bergmann (Burgtheater Wien)

Introduction: Victor Mazin

Rowan Williams located the root of religious experience into our (human) “capacity for perversity, addictions, self-sacrifice, self-destruction and a whole range of ‘rationally’ indefensible behaviors” – that is, the very dimension of irreducible self-sabotaging, of the “pursuit of unhappiness” –,  and does this capacity not belong into the domain of the death-drive, of the weird overlapping between negativity and inertia that we encounter in a paradigmatic way in Hamlet? Hamlet doesn't kill Claudius when he sees him praying since if he were to do it at that moment, he would not strike at more than what is here, at that X that makes Claudius a king. This is also a problem – maybe even the problem - of revolutionaries: how not only to overturn power, but strike at what is more than mere power as a fact, and thus preventing that the ancient regime will return in a new guise? It is this uncertainty which propels Hamlet to procrastinate the act (of revenge), i.e., to use Hegel’s term, to tarry with the negative. Negativity is usually thought of as a dynamic entity consisting of struggles, cuts, and other modes of negation, but, as Andrew Cutrofello pointed out, what makes Hamlet a unique figure is that it stands for tarrying with the negative: Hamlet treats negativity itself as an expression of the melancholic inertia of being. Perhaps, then, the first move of what one can call “materialist theology” should be to discern this dimension of death-drive in divinity itself.

Slavoj Zizek

In Co-operation with the Burgtheater Wien

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