The Oxford historians' discovery of Vienna

An Archaeology of Madness

An Archaeology of Madness: Attitudes to Mental Illness from the Middle Ages to Freud (the Fools’ Tower and the Freud Museum)

This guided lecture-tour will trace the complex and changing attitudes to madness and mental illness from the Middle Ages to Freud’s method of psychoanalysis developed in Vienna at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. We will consider, firstly, the architecture of the madhouse as exemplified by the Fools’ Tower (Narrenturm) in Vienna, one of the first hospitals in Europe dedicated exclusively to the purpose of treating the mentally ill. The architectural plan of the Tower, constructed in 1784 in the place of the former dungeons of the Capuchin Order used for housing insane monks, will be considered as a stage in the development of the lunatic asylum, foreshadowing 19th century prison designs. In this discussion, we will draw on French philosopher Michael Foucault’s Madness and Civilization and Discipline and Punish. Our second focus will be the Freud Museum in Berggasse, which will be a starting point for looking at Freud’s life and work and the development of psychoanalysis.

Note: It takes around 15 minutes to walk from the Fools’ Tower to the Freud Museum.

Lecture-Tour: An Archaeology of Madness

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