08/20/2017, 11:34, Vienna  DEUTSCH / ENGLISH

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Leading articles

THE VIENNA PSYCHOANALYST wants to give not only already internationally established psychoanalysts, but also still unknown psychoanalysts the opportunity to post a self-written and not yet published article on the FrontPage of our online magazine!

Our Users then can leave comments, ask questions or discuss the articles in our forum. Our aim is to provide an international platform where for the first time anyone interested in psychoanalysis can exchange ideas on certain topics.
Articles are welcome in German and/ or English.

If you are interested, please send your article to

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



Author: Thomas Barth

In our interview series "in conversation with“, we will briefly present the authors of the leading articles. We want to give our users the opportunity to read the leading article from a different point of view.

This week we are very glad to welcome Thomas Barth from Vienna, Austria:

Born 1965 in Vienna.
Studied Psychology at the University of Vienna (1984-87), certificate program in Marketing @ Sales at WU Vienna 1989.
Completed the psychoanalytic training at the Psychoanalytic Seminar Innsbruck (PSI) in 2010 and received the Doctorate in Psychotherapy science at Sigmund Freud University Vienna (SFU) in 2012. Training Analyst (PSI/SFU) since 2017.
Work in the areas music (ongoing) and new media in Vienna, Denmark and New York. Since 2007 (ongoing): Leading the mnemonic training at the “Anne Kohn-Feuermann” day care center in the Jewish home for the elderly, since 2011 psychoanalyst in own private practice in Vienna. Publications, lectures and performances in the fields psychoanalysis, music and cultural studies.

DWP: What brought you to psychoanalysis?

Thomas Barth: There were a couple of factors: My interest in psychological topics - apart from music - had existed since my childhood. In 1982 at the Gymnasium in Tulln, I took psychology and philosophy as compulsory optional subject in 7th grade. Our teacher encouraged by her way of teaching this interest further.

Then in the mid-80s, I studied y psychology with focus on psychiatry at the Vienna University and heard among others lectures by Erwin Ringel, Hans Strotzka, Harald Leupold-Löwenthal and Giselher Guttmann. I did not graduate at that time, but I continued to deal with psychoanalytic topics. After several years in New York, I met Professor Guttmann in Vienna in December 2005. He told me among others thing about the then newly founded Sigmund Freud Private University (SFU), whose dean he was then. I completed my studies there (2009) and the psychoanalytic training (2010, in cooperation with the PSI, the psychoanalytic seminar Innsbruck).

DWP: If you had the opportunity to talk with Sigmund Freud, what would be the topic?

Are there any specific questions?

Thomas Barth: It is a matter of whether this meeting would be in 2017. I would be interested to know what he thinks of the world now, compared to Vienna around 1900 that he has known and what has happened: structural, social and political world.

How from his point of view the repetition compulsion, the return of the repressed, presents itself in larger temporal rhythms and arcs. How the clinical pictures and cultural norms have changed. Also, how he sees the development of psychoanalysis in modern times, especially in connection with humanistic, neurosciences and biology (e.g. epigenetics) and its position / separation to medicine.

When I think of his thoughts in „Civilization and its Discontents" were human rises up to the position of a "prosthetic God" (at least analogously), which he experienced with his "auxiliary organs" as "truly magnificent” (Freud, 1930). I can only imagine that he would feel confirmed by some technical developments (e.g. weapons, internet, mobile phones, etc.) in his vision of the future.

DWP: Fabric or leather couch?

Thomas Barth: Fabric. The plaid I use in my practice was a happy find. In addition to functional and aesthetic criteria and in the quotation of the Freudian tradition, the couch should above all be a comfortable furniture and encourage a feeling of relaxation. Even more important than the material or the appearance is the respective person, who reclines on it. It is not the cover (the surface), but the quality of the relationship and its deeper layers, is what I think is the most essential.

DWP: According to Bruno Bettelheim and the importance of fairy tales in childhood. Will you tell us your favorite fairy tale? And do you see parallels to your own adult life?

Thomas Barth: "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. I heard about it for the first time at the age of about 16 as part of a school event.

Each of the single episodes and metaphors stands for something: search for connectedness, absurdities of human activities, space and time, death, internalization. The strange and familiar, the wandering, the dialogue and the ability to recognize individual value and meaning in supposedly small things in life. Parallels to my life, are and were there.

From an analytical perspective is "The Little Prince" also noteworthy. The episode with the fox in connection with the attachment theory or with the alcoholic in connection with the psychodynamics of the addiction cycle, the description of occupations, human types and ways of life or the aspect of development of human being: the child in the adult or the adult in the child.

DWP: I dream,….

Thomas Barth: ... and try to understand what I remember, or to relate them to things that concern me. Sometimes it succeeds. Recently, I wrote a musical phrase down immediately after waking. The mechanism of forgetting works so fast that remembering a dream is often like a fish, which is visible for a short time, but quickly swims away. Maybe it will show up again somewhere else ...

DWP: What do you find good or particularly good in psychoanalysis and is there anything you do not like about it?

Thomas Barth: It is difficult for me to speak of "psychoanalysis" because it is now such a large, fascinating and heterogeneous area, of which I can only overlook more or less limited areas. I find it fundamentally very valuable that all these differences can be reconciled under the common concept of psychoanalysis.

At the same time, I notice that in the psychological area are way too many splits and often the dividing seems to stand before the common. Controversies such as the conflicts between Freud, Adler and Jung, later Anna Freud versus Melanie Klein, and among their adherents, are examples of this. If the soul is metaphorically "a wide country" (Schnitzler), then there should also be enough space for several approaches and possible interpretations that can coexist. Dogmatism would limit the view and hinder one of the characteristics of psychoanalysis - the discursive way of being able to reflect on several levels.

I would like here more integration while retaining the respective features. Mainly because psychoanalysis, like other methods, also works in the direction of favoring integrative processes instead of divisions.
In my opinion, the psychoanalytic method is always as good or as bad as the person using it. Are we acting responsibly and professionally with the application of the theories in practice, or are we adding to the other person - contrary to the Hippocratic principle - more harm than good? These questions must be constantly kept in mind.

DWP: What challenges did you have to face during your analytic training?

Thomas Barth: I´ve experienced like this: spending lots of time, money, energy, doing a lot of work in addition to existing professional and personal commitments, dealing with issues that trigger illness, but at the same time there was also the motivation and interest to want to know something. To mature as a person and to take all of this together to work as good as possible with other people. I was also at the age of 40 in 2005, when I continued the psychoanalytic and academic training again i.e. in some areas more mature than at 20.

DWP: Do you have a favorite Freud - quote?

Thomas Barth: There are quite a few. The one I would like to choose here is about Freud´s observation that the probable does not have to mean the truth. I find this quote so very timely because it also describes the often-fine line between reality and fantasies of omnipotence, their differentiability has become so important in the year 2017 (keyword "alternative facts").

“Not even the most tempting probability is a protection against error; even if all the parts of a problem seem to fit together like the pieces of a jig-saw puzzle, one must reflect that what is probable is not necessarily the truth and that the truth is not always probable “ (S. Freud, Moses and Monotheism)

DWP:  Are there other psychoanalysts, in addition to Sigmund Freud, who you like to study?

Thomas Barth: Yes, in addition to the first-generation analysts, there is Wilfred Bion, Jerome Blackman, Georges Devereux, Erik Erikson, Peter Fonagy, Eric Kandel, Otto Kernberg, Mark Solms and Nancy Mc Williams. They have not only expanded but also enriched Freud´s monumental building.

Thank you very much for this conversation, we are already looking forward to your leading article!

Contact information of the author:
Thomas Barth

Sigmund Freud Museum SFU Belvedere 21er haus stuhleck kunsthalle
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