Freud’s couch is one of the popular icons when it comes to psychotherapy. Today there are different therapies that deviate from Freud’s method. But it is interesting to know what the origins of the couch are and why Freud chose it. The BBC published and I share some fragments with you.
The first psychoanalyst’s couch was a day bed of Victorian origin, believed to have been given as a gift to an Austrian neurologist who would later become the father of psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud.
The chair was a donation from a grateful patient named Madame Benvenisti and Freud received it in 1890.
It is sturdy and solid, covered in heavy multicolored Iranian fabric and decorated with well-worn cushions.
“It is the piece of furniture most easily associated with Victorian women like Florence Nightingale or Elizabeth Barrett Browning,” says Iván Ward, curator of the Freud Museum in London.
Freud used the couch in his medical practice before the days of psychoanalysis.
He experimented with all kinds of resources, from electrotherapy to massages and therapeutic baths, although he ultimately ended up abandoning all of these techniques because there was no evidence that they were having success with his patients.
It was not until his idea of “free association” was combined with Freudian theories of psychoanalysis that the armchair truly took on a role of its own.
Freud believed that his technique – asking the patient to lie down, without making eye contact, and asking him to say the first thing that comes to mind – could provide new ideas for his psychoanalytic method.
The couch helped create an environment that was both clinical and intimate, allowing the patient to freely explore his ideas and thoughts and construct a picture with which the psychoanalyst could begin to work.
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