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Freudian legacy continues to call shot

At the Cafe Freud, a whimsical watering hole two doors down from the apartment

india Updated: May 03, 2006 18:43 IST

At the Cafe Freud, a whimsical watering hole two doors down from the apartment where Sigmund Freud plumbed the human psyche, a world-famous poster commands instant attention.

It's a cartoon profile of the frowning father of psychoanalysis, with nose and eyebrows blending into the image of a naked woman.

"What's on a man's mind?" reads a wry inscription in English, but the real question might be: What would your mother think? Mirth and melancholy, hubris and humour it's how the world likes its Freud, whose legacy is still being celebrated and scorned as the 150th anniversary of his birth arrives Saturday.

For every sober and scholarly discussion about his groundbreaking theories on neurosis, narcissism or Oedipus complexes there's a New Yorker cartoon, a Woody Allen clip, a "Seinfeld" rant or a memorable Freudian slip of the tongue that springs to mind.

The English poet WH Auden foreshadowed all this after Freud's death in 1939 when he said Freud had already become "no more a person now but a whole climate of opinion."

"There are only a very few personalities who have had such a significant, fundamental impact on today's cultural history as Sigmund Freud," said Austrian President Heinz Fischer, a law scholar who says he "always loves" to read Freud's works and who is the official overseer of his country's anniversary events.