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Freud Exhibition Delves Into a Dramatic Legacy in Latin America

The famously Freudian Dr Frasier Crane may have brought psychoanalysis over the airwaves to the masses in the seminal 1990s comedy in which he constantly spars with his Jungian brother, Niles. But half a century before him, a real-life Brazilian Frasier was doing much the same.

Sigmund Freud’s influence in Latin America, a region the founder of psychoanalysis never visited, was so profound it spawned a 1940s hit radio show in Brazil, The World of Dreams, presented by the Freud devotee and psychiatrist Gastão Pereira da Silva.

Broadcasting on Rádio Nacional, Brazil’s equivalent to the BBC, and with possible audience figures Frasier’s show on the Seattle-based KACL would kill for, Pereira da Silva took listeners’ dreams, had actors voice them, then psychoanalysed them on air.

It is one of many examples of Latin America’s early and enduring adoption of psychoanalysis, and Freudianism in particular, highlighted in an exhibition opening at the Freud Museum London in his former and final home in Hampstead.

Through letters, photography, surrealist art, books from Freud’s own library, comics, magazines and newspapers, the exhibition shows Freud’s influence on Central and South America, which became a leading region globally for psychoanalysis, with Buenos Aires reportedly home to the highest number of psychoanalysts per capita in the world.

Though Freudian psychoanalysis is often considered a European practice – begun at his home in Vienna – its impact in Latin America has arguably been the most dramatic, taking root in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

Jamie Ruers, the curator of Freud and Latin America, said: “Pereira da Silva was very close to Freudianism. He was a self-proclaimed psychoanalyst, and in a lot of ways Frasier Crane was as well. Both of them were breaking down stigmas about therapy by bringing it to the masses. There weren’t many people doing this sort of thing on the radio, popularising it in the way that he was.

“And that really is the message of the exhibition; the idea that psychoanalysis, particularly Freudian psychoanalysis, was being delivered to such a broad audience from as early as the 1930s and 40s in Latin America.” An audio recording of one of the shows is part of the exhibition.

Psychoanalysis, particularly dream analysis, became woven into Latin American cultures. The 1930s Buenos Aires newspaper Jornado invited readers to submit their dreams for analysis by “Freudiano”; an Argentinian women’s magazine, Idilio – comparable to today’s Cosmopolitan – analysed readers’ dreams illustrated with surrealist artworks by the photographer Grete Stern.

“Women sent in their dreams and they would be analysed, alongside these beautiful, stunning, photomontage, surrealist artworks,” said Ruers. Examples of this artwork, alongside works by the Brazilian poet and woodcut artist Jose Borges, and the Mexican multimedia artist Santiago Borja, form part of the exhibition.

Other key people in the show include the black Brazilian doctor Juliano Moreira, a son of enslaved people, who encountered Freud’s name at a 1913 medical congress in London and who brought psychoanalysis into the medical domain in Brazil, where centres still bear his name.

Freud’s boyhood fascination for the Spanish language – he never mastered Portuguese – was inspired by his wish to read Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes in its original language. Self-taught, as a teenager Freud exchanged letters in Spanish with his friend Eduard Silberstein, each adopting a Spanish pen-name inspired by Cervantes’ novella, The Dialogue of the Dogs. Freud became Cipión and Silberstein was Berganza.

In the 1920s, Freud formed a close relationship with the Peruvian psychiatrist Honorio Delgado, whom he described as his “first foreign friend”. They exchanged letters, books and presents over the ensuing decades.

When Freud moved to London in 1938 as a refugee, he brought 34 of his 62 Latin American books, many of which had been inscribed with dedications by their authors.

Ruers said: “This exhibition will tell fascinating stories about Sigmund Freud that most people won’t know.”

Source: The Guardian