Kultur- und Themenführungen - Wien Fremdenführer - Wien

Cultural walking tours - Vienna

Guided tours - Vienna



The birth of psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud´s Vienna



Psychoanalysis was born in the specific historical and cultural milieu of late 19thcentury Vienna. The experience of decay of the Austrian imperial state lead intellectuals to seek an alternative way to modernity beyond the liberal ideology of rationality, progress and social emancipation. The interest of Freud and his generation lies in the exploration of the psychological reality which Freud’s contemporary Schnitzler calls the “vast domain of the soul” whereas Freud himself speaks of the “unconscious”. Freud lived and worked mostly in the social context of liberal and assimilated Jews of the high bourgeoisie. His patients but also his patrons belonged to this social class which was economically successful but also threatened by the rise of antisemitism and the crises of the liberal political system. Freud breaks with the ruling academic and medical positivism and listens to the voice of the suffering individual, with the intention to support the expression of its desires free of social and moral boundaries.

This itinerary leads you to the most important historical places of psychoanalysis recalling the life events of Freud and his patients as well as the evolution of Freudian theory.





The tour starts at the Palais Lieben-Auspitz built by the Jewish banker Leopold Lieben for his family. Freud used to visit the Lieben family quite often in the 1880s as well as the renowned coffeehouse Landtmann located on the ground floor of the elegant palace. Anna Lieben, Leopold’s wife, an intelligent and sensitive, but also highly melancholic woman had been Freud’s patient in 1887/88 and 1893. Freud who did not dispose of the psychoanalytic technique yet tried to help her with hypnosis – but without success. Passing the University and the Rathausstrasse we get to the vast complex of the ancient General Hospital built in 1784 by the emperor Joseph II. Freud practised there for some years as a doctor. His most important experience in the hospital was the time spent in the psychiatric department directed by Theodor Meynert, a convinced representative of medical positivism. Within the ancient hospital there is a most unique building: the so-called “Narrenturm” (“tower of the mad”), designed in 1784 for psychiatric patients (today the anatomic-pathological museum). Highlight of the tour is the visit of the “Freudhaus”, the apartment where Freud spent almost half a century (1891-1938). It is here that the great man lived, analysed his patients, wrote his books and discussed psychological problems with colleagues during the famous Wednesday meetings. The former work rooms still breathe a unique atmosphere, especially the charming waiting room of the patients which has preserved its historical furnishing.



Practical information


MEETING POINT: In front of the "Burgtheater",

Universitätsring 2.

DURATION: 2,5 hours.

END OF THE TOUR: Sigmund Freud Museum, Berggasse 19.

ADMISSION FEES: Sigmund Freud Museum.

READING: Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time, New York 2006.

Elisabeth Roudinesco, Freud in His Time and Ours, Harvard Unisversity Press 2016.

Carl Schorske, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna. Politics and Culture, New York 1980.