Monday, November 7, 2011

Cerebral Europe

guest post by Allison Gamble

Imagine yourself laying in Sigmund Freud's Vienna office (photo), on his famous couch, inhaling the thick smoke of his cigar as you're mentally prodded by one of the most famous psychoanalysts in history; how much would you have told him? You could debate Sir Francis Galton's coined nature versus nurture conundrum in your own personality on the short drive from Westminster or Buckingham Palace to his quaint London home of fifty years at Rutland Gate. Whether psychology is a passion, hobby, or your life’s work, if you’re cruising Europe for the best and most intriguing spots there are two you should definitely not miss: the Carl Gustav Jung Institute in Zürich, a charming, beautifully landscaped building whose interior walls are painted in calming patterns with beautiful colors, and Geneva's sites for the famous child psychologist Jean Piaget, such as his bust in Parc de Bastions, the Jean Piaget Auditorium, and the Jean Piaget School at Chêne-Bougeries.

At Berggasse 19, Vienna IX, Freud's Austrian apartment and office still stand. Now known as the Sigmund Freud Museum, and containing the prominent man's original furniture and some antiques, the building still houses apartment dwellers, and proudly displays informative plaques about Freud's presence. An amusing anecdote about Freud's reaction to a visit by Nazi officials at this address is recounted in a New York Times article, along with an interesting history of some of its happenings.

In the nearby country of Switzerland, spread out in the famous city of Geneva, are the Jean Piaget sites; his bust at the gorgeous Parc de Bastions (photo), his auditorium at the University of Geneva, and the Jean Piaget school. His "four stages" theory is used even today by training teachers, despite the many challenges to its validity that have come from other schools of thought, and his impressive list of held positions and awards received marks him as a rare mind and impressive figure in the world of psychology and learning.

Just over three hours away, near Zürich, is the C. G. Jung Institut; named after its founder, the institute began in 1948 and still today trains psychotherapists in Jungian methods. Appointments can be made to visit the library and the picture archives, though the view of the Institut's charming exterior is absolutely free, of course. A contemporary and former friend of Freud, Jung has a long list of publications and awards of his own, but notably, it was his research and work on personality types which influenced the creation of the well-known MBTI questionnaire. His friendship and study with Freud irrevocably ended after one of his publications argued against some of Freud's ideas. Along with his wife and 5 children, he lived in Küsnacht until his death in 1961.

Before you pack your bags and go home, don't forget to stop in London! The home of Sir Francis Galton may seem not at all lavish to the onlooker, but his ancestry was one of significantly prodigious breeding, and is perhaps why he became such a strong proponent of eugenics, and was so fascinated by the human intellect. His significant contributions to the study of the mind include the establishment of differential psychology, which was aided by the work of his illustrious, though perhaps controversial half-cousin, Charles Darwin. It focused on behavioral differences (rather than similarities which contemporary minds sought) within people and groups. It may also be noteworthy to add that Galton was the largest contributor to the idea of using fingerprints for personal identification. Conveniently located only minutes from the incredibly obvious tourist attractions of London, Sir Francis Galton's home at 42 Rutland Gate is an essential stop in a tour of sites in Europe were such large waves were raised in the field of psychology.

The influence of these great European minds still affects us today, though it may not be apparent to us; in our schools and hospitals, in our literature and government and many other unexpected scenarios. Just as many find the ancient sites of great wars and battles to be enthralling and compelling, so to see places where massive steps into the exploration of the human psyche took place can be for the lovers and scholars of the study.

Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology since high school. She brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing.

Photo Credits: Freud's house, Freud interior, Piaget statue, Jung Institute


Deep India said...

First of all I want to applaud you and secondly wanna thanks you a lot for sharing such an informative blog.

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