Sigmund freud

What Prince Harry gets wrong about therapy

Prince Harry’s endorsement of therapy will likely turn some of us off ever seeking it out. Insisting that therapy has changed him for the better, he is urging his family to partake so that they too can ‘speak his language’ of simultaneously loaded and empty terms – such as ‘authenticity’. ‘If I didn’t know myself, how could members of my family know the real me?’ he said. This non-sequitur subverts the conventional wisdom that sometimes others can know you better than you know yourself. Yet tiring as all the Prince’s interventions are, a peremptory dismissal of psychoanalytic practice would be a mistake. In fact, psychoanalysts would probably refuse to accept the

Stupendously good: Much Ado About Nothing, at the Lyttelton Theatre, reviewed

Simon Godwin’s Much Ado About Nothing is set in a steamy Italian holiday resort, the Hotel Messina, in the 1920s. A smart move, design-wise. The jazz age was one of those rare moments in history when every member of society, from the lowliest chambermaid to the richest aristocrat, dressed with impeccable style and flair. The show is stupendously good to look at it and it kicks off with a thrilling blast of rumba music from a jazz quartet on the hotel balcony. Even sceptics of jazz need not fear these players. The musical score is a triumph for one simple reason: there are no jazz solos. The comic passages of

My wife is caught in a web of fear

Even in my shed at the bottom of the garden I can hear the screams coming from the house. Shrieks of pure terror, often sustained for several seconds, followed by desperate cries for help. No, my family’s not being assailed by a serial killer. Spider season is here and Caroline is an arachnophobe. One a scale of one to ten, I’d give her about an eight on the irrationality scale. She doesn’t insist that I search every nook and cranny of our bedroom to make sure it’s spider-free before she can go to sleep. But she has surrounded the bed with conkers. She’s a great believer in the spider-repelling properties

My thrilling rendezvous with the sausage lady

One day last week we did a wine run up to Manosque in the foothills of the Alps, leaving early in the morning. Catriona drove, big Vernon squeezed into the back seat and made a nest for himself among a fortnight’s recycling rubbish. Along the road up to Manosque the almond trees were in blossom, and in the gardens yellow forsythia and mimosa. But last year’s dead leaves still clung about the naked branches of the forest. Manosque it was because we’re massive fans of a local red called La Blaque. But on the way we passed a Louis Latour wine outlet. Catriona likes their Viré-Clessé white so we stopped

Do Jews think differently?

Sixteen years into a stop-go production saga, I got a call from the director of The Song of Names with a suggested script change. What, said François Girard, if one of the two protagonists was perhaps, er, not Jewish? My reply cannot be repeated. I was, for a minute or so, completely speechless. My novel, winner of a 2002 Whitbread Award, is the story of two boys bonding in wartime London. One is a refugee violinist from Poland, the other a middle-class kid of average abilities. ‘I am genius,’ says Dovidl to Martin. ‘You are — a bit everything.’ Beyond bomb sites, their friendship is rooted in a common heritage.

Was there some Freudian symbolism in Lucian’s botanical paintings?

In early paintings such as ‘Man with a Thistle’ (1946), ‘Still-life with Green Lemon’ (1946) and ‘Self-portrait with Hyacinth Pot’ (1947–8) Lucian Freud portrayed himself alongside striking plant forms, giving equal weight to the vegetable and the human. Similarly, his first wife, Kitty, was depicted in portraits from the same period more or less obscured by a fig leaf held in front of her face, or apparently threatened by the leafy branch of a plant thrusting into the picture plane. Throughout Freud’s career, people would continue (sometimes equally uneasily) to share space with plants, notably Harry Diamond confronting a yucca in ‘Interior at Paddington’ (1951) and the artist himself squeezed

Why was Sigmund Freud so obsessed with Egypt?

Twenty years ago, I visited the ancient Egyptian city of Amarna with a party of American journalists. Even in those days this place, near Asyut on the Middle Nile, was regarded as a dodgy destination for western tourists. As a tribute to the value of an entire CBS television crew as a terrorist target, we were accompanied by a squad of heavily armed, black-clad Egyptian special forces. But the sense of daring adventure was dented when, shortly after arriving at the ruins, we were joined by a couple of intrepid Germans who had come in a taxi. The Germanic world has long been fascinated by Amarna and its ruler, the

A time for reflection | 8 March 2018

The precarious stasis of late pregnancy offers the narrator of Jessie Greengrass’s exceptional first novel a space — albeit an uncomfortable one — for reflection. She sifts through her own immediate and past experience: caring for her dying mother in her early twenties; her relationship with her partner Johannes; her childhood; the birth of her first child. This fragmented narrative is intercut with the stories of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, the inventor of the X-ray; Sigmund and Anna Freud; and the 18th-century anatomist, surgeon and empiricist John Hunter — along with other brief cameos from the history of science, from the Lumière brothers to the engraver Jan van Rymsdyk. These figures

Mysticism and metamorphosis

‘I frankly hate Descartes,’ states a character in Nicole Krauss’s new novel, Forest Dark: ‘The more he talks about following a straight line out of the forest, the more appealing it sounds to me to get lost in that forest …’ Like the author, this character is called Nicole, lives in Brooklyn, and is a writer and mother. Struggling with her work and her marriage, life is indeed a ‘forest dark’, and we follow her through the tangle of it. Interleaved with Nicole’s half of the novel, is Jules Epstein’s — a bombastic, wealthy, older New York Jew, who we meet when the ‘strong weather of being Epstein no longer

All in the mind’s eye

Everyone knows what the Rorschach tests are. Like Freudian slips, boycotts, quislings and platonic friendships, however, it was long ago forgotten that they had been named after an individual human being. Hermann Rorschach was a Swiss doctor and psychiatrist with curiosity about the visual arts, a contemporary of Freud and Jung. He created the tests in a book published in 1921, and a structure for evaluating patient responses to them before dying of appendicitis the following year. Rorschach’s life has its interests, and certainly casts some unexpected light on the Europe of his time. His father wrote an artistic treatise which sounds extraordinarily like the Bauhaus writings of Paul Klee,

Paintbrushes at the ready

When the old curmudgeon Edgar Degas died in 1917, a stunning trove of works by Edouard Manet — eight paintings, 14 drawings and 60 prints — was discovered in his studio. There, too, was a portrait of Manet and his wife Suzanne, painted by Degas 50 years earlier. But its right-hand third was missing — which included half of Suzanne’s body and all of the piano she was playing. For some reason, Manet had put a knife through the canvas and sent Degas packing with what remained. The duo’s relationship is one of four ‘friendly rivalries’ considered by the Boston Globe art critic, Sebastian Smee, in his new book (Matisse

A rose between two thorns

Emma Rauschenbach was the daughter of rich Swiss industrialists — a plump, good-natured girl, nicknamed ‘Sunny’, who married young without knowing what she was letting herself in for. Her husband, Carl Gustav Jung, was revered after his death as a guru as much as a doctor — as the mystic and visionary that Freud might have become had he not been so fixated on the role of the libido. As a husband, a father and a younger man, however, Jung appears to have been close to intolerable. He was physically large, selfish, bullying and loud of voice; he cheated at games, had a vile temper and appalling table manners; he

High life | 22 June 2016

I always thought the Freuds a pretty sordid bunch, and after the latest revelations it seems I wasn’t far off. I first met Clement Freud when John Aspinall employed him as an adviser for food and wine. He was lugubrious and aggressive, and none of us punters liked him one bit. He was not a gambler but talked as if he were a big one. While crossing the Atlantic on board the QE2 back in 1974, he tried to pRlay the tough guy with me over — yes, you guessed it — a lady, but it didn’t work. But there’s no use giving him the business now that he’s dead,

High life | 17 September 2015

 Gstaad Last week I dreamt of a girl I met in the summer of 1953, in Greece. I had never dreamt of her before. We spent two months together and had a platonic love affair. She got married and died soon after. She was older than me, but not by much. I had turned 16 that summer and had been to bed with a couple of ‘nice’ girls by then, but the rest had been mostly hookers. Her name was Maria Agapitou, and she was a rare beauty, at least in my inexperienced eyes. The ghastly but undeniably brainy fraud Sigmund Freud defined love as overvaluing the object but undervaluing

Hero or collaborator?

Steve Silberman’s stunning new book looks across history, back to Henry Cavendish, the 18th-century natural scientist who discovered hydrogen, Hugo Gernsbach, the early-20th-century inventor and pioneer of amateur ‘wireless’ radio, and countless other technically brilliant but socially awkward, eccentric non-conformists, members of the ‘neurotribe’ we now call the autism spectrum. He argues passionately for the ‘neurodiversity’ model rather than the medical disease model, for society to stop trying to ‘cure’ or ‘normalise’ those with autism, but to recognise them as neurologically differently wired, to accept difference, and support their disabilities when these surface in certain environments. His book could serve as a manifesto about extending dignity and human rights for

Filling in the Bloomsbury puzzle

In March 1923 a large birthday party was held in a studio in Bloomsbury. It is often assumed that the eponymous Group was habitually glum or intense; but there were a lot of parties. The artists were Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and the birthday was David Garnett’s 31st. David (known as Bunny) was a handsome, fair-haired fellow of bisexual charm, beloved by Grant, among others. His second novel, Lady into Fox, inspired and illustrated by his wife, Ray, had been a literary sensation the year before. There was much energetic dancing, and a floorshow was provided by the Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, Maynard Keynes’s wife, and by Harriet Bingham,

One vast, blaring cultural circus

In the late 1980s Peter Ackroyd invited me to meet Iain Sinclair, whose first novel, White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings, I had greatly admired. Ackroyd initially knew Sinclair as a poet, author of Lud Heat, an influence on his own wonderful novel Hawksmoor. Passionately interested in London, the three of us began to meet regularly. Sinclair was an admirer of the French situationist Guy Debord (The Society of the Spectacle) and popularised psychogeography in Britain. In his blending of myth, literature and close social observation, I felt he combined the virtues of Orwell and Pound. Before long, in company with the likes of the rock guitarist Martin Stone, the creator of

Vienna is a crossroads of the world again – but something’s missing

People get the wrong idea about Vienna and I blame Johann Strauss. His plinky-plonky waltzes have become the soundtrack to the city, cementing Vienna’s public image as a place of balls and carriages and cream cakes. It’s an image the tourist board is keen to cultivate, and it makes good business sense. Tour groups visit the Spanish Riding School and the Vienna Boys’ Choir, eat a slice of Sachertorte and depart contented. It makes for a happy holiday, but Vienna is much more interesting than that. Like a lot of stereotypes, Viennese clichés have some substance. Once upon a time, this was the mecca of modern music: Schubert was the

What does it say about Owen Jones that he isn’t interested in scientific research?

Owen Jones writes in the Guardian today on the subject of trans rights, making a revealing statement in the process. He says: ‘In truth, debates over the latest scientific research are of little interest to me: what matters is that the happiness, security and even lives of a minority are at stake, and all too little has been done about it.’ I’ve no desire to get involved in this particular debate, partly because I don’t know enough and I also don’t want to spend ten years getting harassed and threatened like Julie Bindel. One should never underestimate the threat of violence in shifting public debate, not just in religious matters. I

How consumer habits are subject to the law of unintended consequences

Some time in the 1960s, a group of people in an advertising agency (among them Llewelyn Thomas, son of Dylan) found themselves debating the direction of causation in the purchase of electric drills. Their dispute revolved around one question: do men a) conceive a need for making a hole and therefore go and buy a drill or b) buy an electric drill in a shop because it looks cool and then wander around the house desperately looking for any excuse to make holes in things. (One joy of working in advertising is that you get paid to have the kind of conversations when sober which other people are only allowed