The couch in Sigmund Freud's consulting room. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Sigmund Freud's famous couch in need of makeover

Appeal launched to reupholster couch on which Sigmund Freud analysed minds of his patients


Perhaps the most memorable item of furniture in the world - the couch in Sigmund Freud's consulting room, sagging under the weight of more than a century of recollected dreams, terrors, traumas and phobias - needs a facelift.

The Freud Museum in London has launched an appeal on the 157th anniversary of his birth for funds to reupholster the couch.

Many of Freud's most famous patients, whose psychological traumas helped him to formulate his theories of psychoanalysis, lay on the couch.

They included the "Wolf Man", a wealthy Russian whose sister and father killed themselves, nicknamed for a childhood dream he recalled while lying on the couch; "Dora", who was diagnosed by Freud as suffering from hysteria; and the "Rat Man", named for his obsessive fantasies.

Freud was born on May 6,1856, and the couch is almost as old. It was given to him by a wealthy patient in Vienna and was brought to London when the Nazis forced the Freuds to leave Vienna in 1938.

Freud died of cancer in 1939, but his daughter Anna preserved his library and study as he left it.

Dawn Kemp, the acting director of the museum, hopes a business may sponsor the £5,000 (HK$60,300) restoration. It is too precious to leave the building, so the hope is to employ an expert who will work on site.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Dream makeover required