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(For reasons of readability, the male form is used with personal names, however the female form is also always intended.)

5 Royal Links to Psychoanalysis

Author: Sabrina Zehetner (TVP)

(04/05/2017)
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Royal Visitors! Prince Charles and Camilla pay Vienna a visit on their European tour. With Freud’s emigration to Great Britain, psychoanalysis gained popularity in England. What connects psychoanalysis with the British Monarchy? A story about brave spies and eccentric princesses.


Alice of Battenberg (25 February 1885 – 5 December 1969)

Alice of Battenberg was perhaps Freud’s most famous royal patient along with Marie Bonaparte. Congenitally deaf, Alice was the mother of Prince Philip and mother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II. She and her husband Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark were forced to flee the country after a defeat against the Turkish army with Prince Andrew escaping execution only by a hair’s breadth with the help of Princess Alice’s royal relatives. The family moved to the outskirts of Paris, where Alice’s behavior became increasingly eccentric. The princess immersed herself in spirituality – religion and mysticism soon became crucial parts of her life. She was convinced she was in touch with Buddha and Jesus Christ and even claimed to have healing powers. She started to practice the art of hands-on healing to the point of exhaustion, was obsessed with occultism and believed herself to be saint-like. Eventually, Alice’s gynaecologist Dr. Lourus was consulted, who said she was showing signs of a psychosis and sent her to Dr. Ernst Simmel, a former colleague of Freud, to Tegel to undergo psychoanalysis – Dr. Simmels diagnosis: Paranoid Schizophrenia.

According to him, Alice was suffering from a neurotic pre-psychotic, libidinous condition and turned to Freud for advice. Freud recommended X-raying her ovaries to accelerate her menopause, thus soothing her mood swings. Shortly after, Alice left the clinic even though neither her physical nor her mental condition had improved much. However, Alice’s freedom was short-lived as she was drugged and sent to Kreuzlingen against her will. The sanatorium at the Bellevue Clinic was run by Dr. Binswanger, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist and former student of C.G.Jung. With Freud he maintained a close and life-long friendship. Alice was still convinced to be perfectly healthy and in touch with Jesus Christ. She ceaselessly tried to regain her freedom, until she returned to Greece after a lengthy recovery.  
 

Walter Freud (3 April 1921 – 8 February 2004)

Walter Freud had an incredibly adventure-filled life. The grandchild of Sigmund Freud was the son of Jean-Martine Freud and Ernestine Drucker. He and his father were forced to emigrate to Great Britain, where he studied aviation engineering. When German troops marched into France, Freud and his father were interned as “enemy aliens” and sent to Australia. Shortly after his return to England, he first joined the Royal Pioneer Corps and later the British Secret Service (the Special Operations Executive). Freud’s command of German as a native speaker proved to be an invaluable asset, which led him back home to Austria, where he was supposed to help establish a British presence in anticipation of the Red Army. He parachuted along with five other agents into Styria. He lost the rest of the group and was entirely on his own but made it to Zeltweg, and posing as a representative of the British Eight Army, demanded the surrender of the airfield. Thereupon, Walter Freud was eventually handed over to the US army. After the war, he was involved in the investigation of war crimes committed during WWII in Bad Oeynhausen in Germany – among them were the cases Krupp and Bruno Tesch who was jointly responsible for the production of Zyklon B.


Diana, Princess of Wales (July 1 1961 – August 31 1997)

Life and death of Lady Di still captivate many writers and psychoanalysts today. However, hardly anyone is aware of the link between Diana’s family and the Freuds – after their divorce, Matthew Freud’s ex-wife Caroline Hutton married Diana’s brother Charles Edward Maurice Spencer. Diana herself was in psychoanalytic treatment for her eating disorders as a patient of the famous psychoanalyst Susie Orbach. Important areas of Orbach’s work include women’s relationships to their bodies and dynamics in heterosexual relationships. Orbach was accused of acting as a scriptwriter, thus being responsible for Diana’s interview with Martin Bashir – an assertion she vehemently denied. When asked about Diana’s life as a feminist parable, she said in an interview with the New York Times:

 “Do I think the transformation of a socially privileged but emotionally neglected child to a fairy tale princess, to a woman with a problematic marriage who turns around a sense of victimization to become a real activist in the world and fighter for people´s rights as a feminist parable? Sure!“
 

Lucian Freud (December 8 1922 – July 20 2011)

Lucian Freud painted the controversial portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. within the period of nineteen months in the rooms of St. James Palace.  Its release triggered a storm of indignation among the British press. The Sun called the painting a “travesty” and the Telegraph described the portrait as “extremely unflattering” but acknowledged that the picture managed to capture the Queen’s distinct sense of duty. The majority of art critics and renowned media were less harsh in their judgement and for the most part full of praise for the portrait. It is doubtful that the Queen would have consented to being painted if she has disapproved of Freud’s honest and modern style. Today the painting is part of the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.


The new Generation

Both the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are advocates for children’s mental health and support soldiers suffering from PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). Kate Middleton continues to raise awareness for struggling mothers and their children. Prince Harry set up the Invictus Games Foundation in 2014 - a Paralympic sport event for wounded military personnel and veterans, named after the poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley. Prince Harry as well as the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge support the “Heads Together” campaign with the goal of ending the stigma associated with mental illnesses. Kate Middleton frequently visits and supports the Anna Freud Centre, one of their campaign’s many partner organizations.


Sigmund Freud Museum SFU Belvedere 21er haus stuhleck kunsthalle
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