Sigmund Freud by Sigmund Freud and Dr Melani Schroeter #HistoricalDesertIslandDiscs

We are delighted that our colleague Dr Melani Schroeter from the Department of Languages and Culture has colluded with Sigmund Freud himself to present his Historical Desert Island Discs … 

We are honoured to host Dr Sigmund Freud in today’s edition of Historical Desert Island Discs. Dr Freud’s thinking and writing has fundamentally changed the way in which we view ourselves and others as human beings by offering us a theoretical framework and terminological inventory for describing what goes on – and what at times goes wrong – in our minds and emotions. He and other scholars of his time, such as C.G. Jung and A. Adler have practically added a whole new dimension to our perception of humanity. Freud proposed as material for analysing and treating patients’ mental health issues not least dreams, associations and their own talk, at times reflected and reframed back to them by the therapist as part of ‘the talking cure’.

Dr Freud has kindly agreed to participate in a slightly unusual set-up for which we put up a comfortable sofa on our desert island which looks a bit like this:


Dr Freud will lay down on the sofa and we will be playing a number of songs to him with the aim of triggering a response or any kind of free association which will hopefully give us some food for analysing the founder of psychoanalysis himself. Here we go:

1) Basket Case, Green Day

Dr Freud, what do you think about this song?

Is this supposed to be music? Anyway, he makes himself sound as though he could do with some talking cure. Maybe he is just seeking attention, what with all that harsh noise.

2) The Rolling Stones, 19th Nervous Breakdown 

As a doctor, my professional ethics prohibit me from joining in such kind of patient-despising. I have spent a lifetime arguing that psychological problems are real problems and I am not going over this again.

3) The Doors, The End

Urgh, it’s gloomy. This song obviously refers to my theorising around children’s tabooed desire for their parent of the opposite sex and the urge to destroy the competing parent of the same sex. I would have never put it into such crude terms, though. Seeing that it is such a torturously long song, they could  really be a bit more elaborate. Also, haven’t you moved on beyond the heterosexual framework in the meantime?!

4) The Kinks, National Health 

Do they suggest regular sexual activity should become a public health recommendation? I never thought about that. My focus was very much on the individual, I never considered it in terms of public policy. Very interesting. Imagine I had got that out by the time the Nazis came to power!

5) Chad Mitchell Trio, Ballad of Sigmund Freud 

I take no responsibility for the fees that psychoanalysts charge these days. Maintaining my six children was not exactly a walk in the park for me for many years. I cannot help these guys with their envy-problem.

6) Third Eye Blind, Palm Reader

Aha, hm, hm … typical case of resisting therapy. And of course I made it all up – what did he think blue sky ground-breaking theorising is all about?!

7) Carly Simon, Floundering

Would you leave my daughter Anna out of this, please. She has done a great job continuing in her father’s footsteps. Nothing to do with Electra, no, I really don’t think so. Are you criticising me for some of the nonsense that gets associated with my intellectual heritage? The spiritualist self-searching post-modern psycho-whimsiness came well beyond my time as you know.

8) Ultravox, Vienna

Aaaah, Vienna. Oooooh, Vienna. Yes, I do miss it. I was born in Vienna and spent 82 years of my life there before having to take up exile in London when it became clear that the Nazis who had decided that Jews were to blame for everything were really going to do us harm. I often wonder whether the Berggasse 19 still looks recognisable to me. Not sure I would really want to go back after Austria had got thoroughly messed up by the Nazis, and I don’t know how anyone would be able to trust it again. But don’t we all long to revisit the places of our past?

Thank you, Dr Freud.

Programme Editor’s postscript: The godfather of psychoanalysis seemed rather guarded. He seemed surprisingly uptight and not engaging with the associative triggers that we provided for him to open up to letting us scrutinise his inner workings.

Nevertheless, we are going to be generous and let him have one of the antique figurines he loved collecting for a luxury item – Eros would probably be appropriate. The same goes for the book; The Complete Works of his acquaintance Arthur Schnitzler – contemporary fellow doctor-turned-author and Jewish Austrian citizen who wrote psychoanalysis-inspired novellas featuring dreams and desires.



Melani teaches mostly language and linguistics across the German Studies curriculum, and also contributes to linguistics teaching and supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate students’ research beyond the German language. You can find out more about Melani and her approach to research at the University of Reading here and her staff profile here 

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