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INTERVIEW JANE AND DAVID MCADAM FREUD? De Volkskrant, Media, saturday 20 oktober 2012

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  1. 1. INTERVIEW JANE AND DAVID MCADAM FREUD / DE VOLKSKRANT/ MEDIA/ SATURDAY 20 OKTOBER2012V watched de DVD, A Dangerous Method, about Sigmund Freud en his student Carl Jung, with 2 ofFreud’s British descendents. What did they found of the movie ? And how it is to grow up undersuch a famous ancestor ?IT IS IN THE FAMILYOn the highschool, i defended Sigmund Freud often’, explains David McAdam Freud, son of theBritish painter Lucian Freud en great-grandchild of the world famous Austrian psychiatrist. ‘Myclassmates said sometimes : Sigmund Freud was that man who thought that everything was turningaround sex.’ ‘He didn’t mean sexy sexy sex !’, i cried. But i told nobody that Sigmund was mygrandfather ,even not to my best friends.’David and his sister Jane McAdam Freud are sitting in the old office of Sigmund Freud, in the presentFreudmuseum in London. In this stately mansion the controversial psychoanalist spended the lastyear of his live,in 1938 he escaped with his family to London. Here we watch ’A Dangerous Method ‘,with Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung,Keira Knightly as his patient Sabina Spielrein and ViggoMortesen as Sigmund Freud.What do we think about Freuds movie ? How is it to grow up with a grandfather with mythicproportions ? How it was to almost completely ignore this fact at home ? For the family McAdamFreud, the name Freud was a long time taboo. And then,is there some kind of Freud familyhumor ?The last one for sure. When Sigmund, by order of the nazi’s has to leave Wenen, he had to declarethat he was not hurt, he wrote : ’i can heartily recommand the Gestapo.’Behind, the with Persian carpets coated divan, from when Freud a lot of repressed memories thelight did see,i asked those questions to two Freuds who where long time forgotten by there family.But maybe it is good, first to explain how this works.Designer Katherine McAdam recieved four children with the artist Lucian Freud,grandson ofSigmund : Jane,Paul,Lucy and David. Because of Lucian Freud was not so closely rose by monogamy,Katherine leaved in the middle of the sixties there home in Londons Paddigton and involved with herchildren a cheaper rent flat in the suburb Roehampton. Lucian Freud became fourtheen-recognized-children at six woman. From all of them only Katherine broke all ties with him. After their relocationthey used the name McAdam and about Freud they never spoke again. Decades later the childrenMcAdam used the name Freud again, when the contact with there father was somewhat restored.Striking at the British offspring from Sigmund Freud, is the number of shiners, in very different fields.So became Sigmunds grandson Clement Freud, a brother of Lucian, famous as culinary expert,columnist and MP for the Liberal Party. Clements son Matthew Freud is public relations guru, mariedwith the daughter of media mogul Robert Murdoch. Another great-grandchild of Sigmund,Lord DavidFreud, was journalist, banker and is now Deputy Minister. Under the fourtheen children of artistLucian Freud are the succesful writers Rose and Susie Boyt,leading fashion designer Bella Freud enwriter Esther Freud, from who it on her childhood based book was filmed. It should be partly theconstruction, partly their mothers encouragement ,Katherine McAdam urged their children to draw
  2. 2. and paint a lot-,because all of the McAdam Freuds followed their fathers footsteps. Jane is the mostsuccessful from the four.Jane and David already watched ‘A Dangerous Method ‘. We leave it to fragments: Freud and Jungsfirst meeting in Wenen, their discussions about religion en sexual moral, Jungs sadomasochisticescapades with his patient Sabina Spielrein and the final removal between Freud and Jung, whenJung resisting Freuds autority, as-according to the psychoanalytical interpretation,every son finallyopposed his father. I think that Cronenberg created a reasonable faithfully image’ ,says David, ’Hetries not to shock or give it a Hollywood ending. And in between he entertained the public with theaudience of spanking, without distracting from the intent of the film, which mainly documentary is.’With such a title, i suppost that Freud would get criticism’,explain Jane,’as creator of the hazardouspsychoanalytic method. But it is Jung who abused this method,by starting a sexual relationship withhis patient. And that while just Jung the words sexuality and libido in the psychonalyse wanted toavoid. If someone has to take his libidinal instincts under the lope, it was him.’The last scene of ‘A Dangerous Method’ is the one, where Freud, Jungs religious interest rejects, thedisagreement will be the end of their friendship. Jane coughs. ‘Interesting that Jung tries to putChristian values into the psychonanalysis while he himself could not resist having affairs. Freudwasn’t religious and kept at a certain ethics, especially in relation to his patients and his family.’David: ‘Moreover he wanted his patients to show why they are who they are. Not more. Jungwanted to help them to get better to be. Play God whas what Freud says. I am agree with that. Astherapist you should not wanted to heal. You can only try to brighten the process of decisionmaking.’ David has followed a psychotherapy training and went himself as well in analysis. ‘I wantedto get unloader and better utilize my talents. I was very closed. Now I sharemore easy things frommyself with others. It is not healthy to have to much secrets.’We walk along the bookcase with great works of world literature and showcases full ofarchaeological objects wich Freud collected, especially old Greek,Roman,Egyptian and Chinesefigurines. (sculptures) ‘ A little neurosis is nothing to be ashamed of,wrote Freud in one of his lastletters to Jung. Freud had several: he was addicted to his work,to sigarettes en to collect.It was probably crazy for you to be artist at residence’,David says to Jane. In 2006 she was invited bythe Freud Museum to come here to work. A few times a week she sat in his studyroom and she drewthe classic figurines from Freuds collection. Jane: ‘ I became fascinated,’I hold out my hand to a Greek gods statue on Freuds desk. David grabs Simunds glasses studying itand put it back. When he wants to sit down on the old officechair, sounds an angry cry from the hall.‘don’t sit on it’ shout an employee,who submitted us through camera’s. Jane talks unperturbed,about a picture from her father Lucian, where he is in exactly the same position as his grandfatherSigmund in his seat: diagonally with one leg over the elbow rest.As the oldest of the four children she reminds the most from the period before Katherine McAdamthe contact with the Freud-family closed. She saw her father regulary and spended lots of time withher grandparents, Sigmunds youngest son Ernst Freud and his wife Lucie. ‘At that time they wherebusy editing Sigmunds diaries and they talked a lot about him. I understood early how famous hewas.’ The gaze of my father was rather pushy’, says Jane a little later. She has small bright blue eyes.‘Lucian had the same eyes as Sigmund’,she says. ‘and my grandma, Lucians mother Lucie,she had thesame penetrating look. When I was a kid, she took me almost daily from school. Then she asked:‘What have you done today ?’,again with those eyes. I had the feeling that i must tell something
  3. 3. interesting. On forehand I practiced that.’After their removal when the contact with her father was already broken, jane continues visiting hergrandparents.David was much younger and preferred to stay at home. Even Katherine McAdam never goes withher. David: ’My mother always said that we from Lucian where abled to use the name Freud. Butshort after that , uncle Clement figure in a tv-spot for doggiefood. And Jane says: please don’t tellthat he is your uncle.’Jane:’ yes I was sixteen and embarrassed me at that time also for the sex in Sigmunds theories. ButI,m always been proud of my background.’As a child, David never heard of Sigmund Freud. His cousin Matthew, told him last, what his mothertold him to protect him, against the weight of a famous grandfather: that Sigmund Freud was theinventor of the toilet. ‘ That was all he knew about him. And I knew even less.’Only in high school he found out who Sigmund was, when a teacher asked him about his family.When David told him at least who his father was, his teacher started talking about Sigmund Freudand gave him two books to read: Civilization and Its Discontents and The Future of an Illusion. Davidfound it very interesting and remarkably easy to read. For David is Sigmund Freuds inheritance nolonger a ballast. I am impressed by his work and the regonition he became ,it has me and many otherFreuds stimulated to be ambitous and competitive. I think the Freuds can go more beyond thenmany others. On school allready, when I had the feeling that my performance was not that good, Ithought:but I can’t be a total idiot. An ounce of intelligence I must have inherited. For my father itwas probably different. Who rebelled against psychoanalysis by saying that live was to short for it. Hesaid that his paintings were not affected by it.Jane: ‘What I find funny, is that his models mostly lying on a sofa where portrayed. I don’t think thathe thought with awareness on his grandfather. Still it is typical, that both, Sigmund as well Luciananalyzed people who in their workingroom are lying on the couch . Sigmund observed theirbodylanguage and what they told or just not, Lucian analyzed their motionless body,their meat ortheir mortality.’Jane feels the pressure to achieve: ‘That’s why I work so hard, but I see that as a good thing.Brancusci, the sculptor said when Rodin asked him to come and work in his studio: ‘Small shoots donot thrive in the shade of large trees. ‘But Lucian has proven the opposite and that motivates me to.’David starts about his 40th serious to paint. A pretty painful experience, he mentions that. He foundsit not only tiring to so intensely looking at something, he found it painful too,to imitated his fatherslive. ‘ I had repressed his life and suddenly he was in my head.’In Lucian Freud last years, David could make a couple of portets of his father, but first after his deadhe was able to exhibit. ‘Lucians fame and influence paralyzed me, in contrast to that of Sigmundwhich was naturally less near and loaded for me.’As an autodidact, he slowly begins to build a name. Next year he’s got his third solo exhibition. Whichis called ’Violet’ to his daughter that he had not seen since years. The relationship between Davidand Lucian, both absent fathers, is easely placed. Also Lucians father Ernst, a great architect,interfered just a little with his children. David: ‘ Maybe it’s a bit shot-sighted, but i also think it iscreepy. Not just recreate yourself physically by getting a child, you repeat the circomstances that youhad with your parents in your relationship with your child. That happens unconsciously, it is a kind ofbehavioral-dna. ‘Humor is a way of the superego to place themselves above the suffering, so declared Sigmund FreudThe humorous attitude already in his article De humor, in 1927.
  4. 4. About Freuds own dry humor existing several annecdotes. A frequently cited example is his responseto Adolf Hitlers book burnings: ‘In the middle ages they would ill be burned’ ,said Freud. ‘ now theytake pleasure to burn my books. This is the progress we made. ‘Also in ‘A Dangerous Method’ Freud makes many dry jokes. Actor Viggo Mortensen said about it in ainterview: ‘ He could say something very funny without laughing. It was dry ,mannered humor. If youunderstood his joke,it immediately created a bond. ‘By David, Lucian could also be funny, but more biting. ‘ And Clement off course, on BBC-radio.Because i loved to hear him. ‘ For years, Clement was a fixed panelist in the comical program ‘ Just aMinute’. Just as Sigmund, he was known as a deadpan humorist. Earlyer I asked woman sometimesto go upstairs to have sex, he said, for example ,with a monotone voice, ‘ but now it become’s theone or the other. ‘‘Yes ? You found him funny then ? ’,asked Jane. ‘ I don’t think that Clement really tried to be funny ’ ,said David. Actally I think that he feeled miserable. That can act funny to others. Years ago he askedme: ‘ David, how do you feel genetic ?’ ‘ Well’, I answered,I feel fine. ‘’No,genetic!’, he said again. Ihad no idea what he was talking about. Now I think that he often struggled with his thoughts. Irecognize this, I do the same. As a Freud you have no excuus to behave silly. Maybe I feel just a bit toresponsible for the welfare in the world than a average human. I can for example long time thinkingabout complicated cases, as particle Physics or the theory of relativity. As a child I allready did. I couldspend hours to invent new theories. I added anytime new elements. Untill I got totally crazy.’