Freud’s Bar

An Outreach initiative of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society


‘Freud’s Bar’ is an outreach initiative with the aim of stimulating an interest in psychoanalysis among the public, with a special focus on young people. We heard originally about ‘Freud’s bar’ as an outreach idea from David Clinton (Swedish Psychoanalytical Society). We learned that this initiative had been an enormous success and thought it was interesting way of attracting young people and letting them know about psychoanalysis. So we decided to experiment and to try it out in Rome: if it worked, it could serve a template for other Italian, and perhaps even foreign Institutes.

We started by finding the location - the scientific bookshop Assaggi, which has a bar inside and is located in a lively area, close to the university and near the psychology faculty in particular. We printed some flyers, and the bookshop sent invitations out to its mailing list. An article was even published in a national newspaper.

As for the theme, the title chosen was “An escape from reality”. From the outset, it was clear that this was going to be a popular choice. Eight colleagues were selected to give an informal talk of 20-30 minutes, one talk per month. The lectures would be: an introductory one , and then considerations of what an “escape from reality” might be from a psychodynamic perspective: to drugs, obsessive sex, to online worlds, to (and from) food, alcohol, reckless behaviour, cosmetic surgery and so on. To our surprise, around 40 to 50 people were present at each lecture, and even more surprisingly, there were quite a lot of young people – both university and high school students.

Even if some people attended more than one lecture, each time there were new faces present. After the short lecture, there was a time for discussion with the audiences: each lasted an hour and a half. All the speakers were required to follow the American Psychoanalytic Association’s guidelines for speaking in public about psychoanalysis: the use of simple and untechnical vocabulary, with no more than three psychoanalytic terms (such as masochism, or narcissism…), the explanation of each psychoanalytic term, the presentation of psychoanalysis in a positive and “concrete” way.

Each session the discussion was passionate and lively. A glass of wine and snacks served before and after the lecture encouraged a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

To conclude, the ‘Freud’s Bar’ initiative was an exciting and successful one. It provided an opportunity to create awareness of psychoanalysis in a large number of people, especially youngsters. In terms of numbers, Freud’s Bar allowed us to contact around 400 people . Also, and this has to be stressed, the cost of the initiative was: ZERO. The bookshop cooperated for free, and all the speakers were unpaid. The flyers were printed by the Institute, and even the wine was donated by wineries. We are keen to spread this initiative to other IPA Societies, and we are available to help colleagues to organize similar initiatives all over the world.

For further details contact: Paola Marion

Claudia Spadazzi, MD, Società Psicoanalitica Italiana
Film maker: Ariel Genovese
Speakers: Francesco Castellet y Ballarà, Vincenzo Bonaminio, Fabrizio Rocchetto
Thanks to : Libreria Scientifica asSaggi, Anna Parisi, Lilli Garrone