A Visit to Freud’s Home – Aftab Khan

“On the very first day of my first and recent visit to Vienna, I went to 19 Berg Gasse, Freud’s residence and clinic for forty-seven years (1891-1938). It was such an experience that I had to go there again a few days later. I also walked through the street and followed his footsteps to his favorite café to have coffee.

“For some of us, Freud’s thinking and theories have shaped a significant part of our personalities – the way we think about ourselves, others, and life in general; the way we relate to people and understand them, always wondering about the role of our unconscious minds in anything we do. Aside from his fervently debated intellectual impact, I sometimes feel I wouldn’t know who I am if I did not think in these terms. Probably that is why walking into his waiting room and looking at his office through the open door was such a profoundly ineffable experience.

“In religious terms, Freud was a prophet. Of course, psychoanalysis is not a religion, not even a belief system. If it has some elements of belief and conviction, they are based on reasoning and experience of the self and others and remain open to critique and development. Freud was only human and not everything he said was right. Death instinct, penis envy and some other concepts are no longer tenable. He admitted he did not understand women very well, and here goes half of humankind, although it does not imply that feminists do. Many people after him contributed to, advanced and corrected his thinking. My own clinical practice and understanding are not based on Freud’s original writings but on what I have learned from dozens of teachers, colleagues, and books by several other authors and thinkers.

“Being agnostic, psychoanalysis seems like a religion to me. As religion provides guiding principles and a way of life for many, psychoanalysis is a way of thinking and understanding for some. It is neither a panacea, not even an answer to many existential questions, nor do I understand myself fully, but again, what matters is the way it makes me think and experience life. I think my feelings on visiting Freud’s home were similar to the feelings of a deeply religious person visiting a holy shrine.”

Aftab Khan
21 October 2007.

Dr. Aftab Khan is a graduate of Khyber Medical College, Peshawar. He has received training in Adult Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, followed by a fellowship in Psychotherapy at Harvard University. He has been practicing psychiatry at Islamabad Psychiatry Clinic, Pakistan since 1997.

A Visit to Freud’s Home – Aftab Khan

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