Chrissie Pollard Interviews Professor Brett Kahr

The esteemed B.B.C. broadcaster has recently interviewed Brett Kahr about his book on Freud’s Pandemics:  Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis, as well as such topics as the nature of self-destructive behaviour and other-destructive behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the links to the podcast, available both on Chrissie Pollard’s website and, also, on YouTube.

Professor Brett Kahr at the Chalke Valley History Festival

In June, 2022, Professor Brett Kahr spoke at the Chalke Valley History Festival in Broadchalke, near Salisbury, in Wiltshire, about “Are We All Mad?:  The History of the Human Mind, its Brilliance, and its Frailties”.  He had the privilege to participate in an “in conversation” with the distinguished novelist, Sebastian Faulks, author of a gripping novel on nineteenth-century psychiatry called Human Traces.

After the conversation about the past, present, and future of “madness” with Mr. Faulks, Kahr enjoyed meeting many of the guests at a Waterstone’s book-signing.


Professor Brett Kahr has recently appeared as a guest on the “Freud in Focus” podcast, sponsored by Freud Museum London, discussing his new book, Freud’s Pandemics:  Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis, which served as the launch title of the new “Freud Museum London Series” of books on the history of psychoanalysis (Karnac Books, 2021).

Kahr enjoyed the privilege of speaking with Tom Derose, the co-host of the podcast and, also, the Research Manager of Freud Museum London, who co-founded the “Freud in Focus” series in 2021 with colleagues Jamie Ruers, the Events Manager, and Karolina Heller, the Photographer and Digital Media Producer.

This special “Bonus Episode” interview about Sigmund Freud’s iconic text Civilization and its Discontents, and about how Freud navigated the multiple pandemics of his own lifetime, can be accessed on the Freud Museum London website and, also, on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, and Audible.  Here is the link:

Susanna Abse

Tell Me The Truth About Love

How to make your relationship last — six tips from a couples therapist.

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Professor Brett Kahr


“New Books in Psychoanalysis”

To mark the publication of Professor Brett Kahr’s newest book, Freud’s Pandemics:  Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis, the Swiss psychiatrist Dr. med. Sebastian Thrul has conducted a full interview with Kahr, which offers insights into how Sigmund Freud handled the multiple pandemics of his own lifetime and how he would have advised our governments and our health care specialists had he been alive today during the twenty-first century.

This podcast is Kahr’s third appearance on “New Books in Psychoanalysis”.  The New Books Network had previously interviewed him about two of his other publications, namely, How to Flourish as a Psychotherapist and, also, Bombs in the Consulting Room:  Surviving Psychological Shrapnel.

The New Books Network has recognised that Kahr’s latest title will be of interest not only to members of the psychoanalysis community but, also, to those from other disciplines; consequently, the podcast has been posted not only on “New Books in Psychoanalysis” but, also, on “New Books in Biography”, “New Books in German Studies”, “New Books in History”, “New Books in Intellectual History”, and “New Books in Jewish Studies”.

Kahr’s book is the inaugural title in the new “Freud Museum London Series”, published by Karnac Books of London (an imprint of Confer Limited), in association with Freud Museum London.

To listen to the podcast, please click on either of the following links:

Susie Orbach

Recent article and book reviews

The Observer:

Working from home: how it changed us forever – Relationships The Observer 23 January 2022

Book chapter:

Eco Revenge in This Book is a Plant – How to Grow, Learn and Radically Engage with the Natural World, Wellcome Collection, Profile Books 2022

Book reviews:

Susie Orbach review of How to Do Things With Emotions: The Morality of Anger and Shame Across Cultures by Owen Flanagan – Don’t shout, let it all out The Observer, 9/1/22

Susie Orbach review of Something Out of Place by Eimear McBride – a satisfying feminist polemics The Guardian, August 2021

Wimbledon Guild interview with Brett Kahr

We talk to Professor Kahr about his new book and his keynote presentation at Wimbledon Guild Counselling Training’s 2022 Conference: Reflections on the Pandemic, Covid-19 and Trauma

Professor Brett Kahr has worked in the mental health profession for more than 40 years. He is Senior Fellow at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London and Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis and Mental Health at Regent’s University London.

After serving for many years as Trustee of Freud Museum London and of Freud Museum Publications, he has now become the museum’s Honorary Director of Research.

We caught up with Professor Kahr to talk about his new book Freud’s Pandemics: Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis (Karnac Books, 2021), inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and to discuss his keynote presentation at our online 2022 Conference: Reflections on the Pandemic, Covid-19 and Trauma, Saturday 12th March 2022. 

We are delighted that you will be presenting your new paper, “Unmuzzling Experts While Curing ‘Covidiots’:  How Psychotherapists Can Prevent the Next Pandemic”, at our online conference next year. Could you tell us something more about the concept of “unmuzzling health professionals”?

Throughout this heart-wrenching coronavirus pandemic, we have received an overwhelming amount of data from politicians and public health officials about how to manage this dreadful global health crisis. However, in spite of the fact that broadcasters have reported a great deal about the decline in mental health, and in spite of the fact that members of the psychotherapeutic profession have never worked so hard, our insights about the unconscious roots of self-destructiveness and other-destructiveness have not become at all central to the narrative surrounding Covid-19. We know that many people contracted the virus quite unexpectedly, but many others have continued to spread this awful infection as clinical acts of aggression. 

I believe that the psychotherapeutic and counselling professions have a great deal of insight to contribute towards a better understanding of the hidden unconscious and behavioural factors underlying what we might conceptualise as “unconscious viral transmission”.

During the pandemic, you have been delivering online lectures for Wimbledon Guild, Confer, The Freud Museum London, and the Viktor Wynd Museum, to name just a few organisations. What has it been like for you delivering your work online over Zoom?

I presented my very first public lecture back in 1979, in front of a live audience, so I must confess that switching to Zoom in 2020, more than 40 years later, proved rather a challenge at first, never having used a laptop before! 

Fortunately, the wonderful technologically savvy team at Freud Museum London offered me a veritable masterclass in Zoom and I presented a fund-raising talk to help the museum, entitled “How Freud Would Have Handled the Coronavirus: Lessons from a Beacon of Survival”, which became the basis of my most recent book. 

Naively, I presumed that the attendees would consist predominantly of the London “regulars”, but, to my great surprise and delight, we attracted colleagues from India, Iran, Pakistan and all over the world. And no one had to hop on an aeroplane! I have now become quite used to this new form of communication and it has permitted us all to meet some very intelligent individuals overseas with whom we would have had little or no contact in pre-pandemic times.

Please tell us about your new book, Freud’s Pandemics:  Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis, which has just been published.

Over the last year, we have heard a great deal about everyone’s “lockdown projects”. Some people have finally learned how to speak Italian fluently or have dusted off their old violin. I devoted much of my time to the writing of a new book on Freud’s Pandemics: Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis, to help inaugurate the new “Freud Museum London Series” in association with the re-launched Karnac Books. 

It will not be widely known that during his long lifetime Sigmund Freud endured not one pandemic but, rather six, of many varieties, including the so-called “Spanish Flu”, which claimed the life of his beloved daughter Sophie Freud Halberstadt in 1920. 

Freud also had to endure decades of anti-Semitic abuse and professional shaming, as well as 16 years of cancer treatment, not to mention the invasion by the Nazis. Any other person who experienced such trauma might have passed by their own hand, but Freud always maintained great emotional sturdiness. 

In this book, based on oral historical and archival research, as well as on a close reading of Freud’s untranslated letters, I have crafted a narrative of his six pandemics. I have also explored how he might have dealt with Covid-19 and, also, what lessons we may continue to learn from this iconic genius.

What are you most looking forward to about Wimbledon Guild Counselling Training’s 2022 online conference?

I believe that the 2022 conference will be my sixth lecture for Wimbledon Guild over the last 20 years. I have always had a wonderful time speaking to colleagues at this esteemed organisation. No two institutions attract the same type of audience, but those at Wimbledon Guild always respond with tremendous compassion and wisdom, and I hope that we can all learn a great deal from one another. The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated much of world thought due to massive traumatisation; therefore, no one can claim true expertise about the psychological impact of this awful illness or about the best ways in which to promote psychological prevention, but I do hope and trust that we can all pool our well-analysed minds at this conference and begin to craft a plan about how psychotherapists and counsellors can share our skills and insights even more fully in years to come.

Wimbledon Guild Counselling Training’s 2022 online conference: Reflections on the Pandemic, Covid-19 and Trauma is on Saturday 12th March 2022. View the programme and book tickets.

Susie Orbach

Five Book recommendations on by Susie Orbach

Contemporary Memoirs by Women

The best contemporary memoirs by women

Susie Orbach Author Of Bodies By Susie Orbach

Who am I?

Memoirs have crept up on me as favorites. I could list many more. Please let me! As a psychoanalyst, I listen to the pains and struggles of individuals trying to become more at ease with themselves. They engage with their demons and try to make sense of how to manage the way their personal history has created their worldview and how to expand it enough to enter a present. Memoirs are another way of addressing such struggles. They have an elegance and a universality that emerges out of their individual stories. We learn about the other and we learn about ourselves.

I wrote…


By Susie Orbach


What is my book about?

Susie looks at how we get the bodies we have. We think of them as predetermined and unfolding but in reality our bodies reflect the familial, cultural, geographic, raced, gendered, and classed positions we are born into and develop from.

Bodies looks at cultural differences – that the Kaypoo bite where we would kiss for instance; at the importance of touch; at the earliest body to body relationship between infant and carers; at the meaning of clothing, of body shape. The democratisation of beauty and the selling of the western and body as a way to enter modernity produce huge profits for the beauty, fashion, food, and diet industries which Bodies discusses. Bodies looks at all the themes through her clinical work with individuals as a psychoanalyst.

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The Books I Picked & Why

Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country

By Gillian Slovo

Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country

Why this book?

Gillian Slovo’s mother was assassinated by the South African Govt. Her father was considered public enemy #1. She reflects on being a child of revolutionaries, leaving her home suddenly and arriving in England on her 12th birthday and seeing snow for the first time. This is a book of making sense, acceptance, confrontation, and truths, Beautifully written, compelling, and gives us a way into a world very few people will experience and yet will want to know about.

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Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love

By Lisa Appignanesi

Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love

Why this book?

Lisa’s husband dies as he is being treated for cancer. She writes about the first year after in which grief, madness, confusion, isolation, and fury coincide with Britain’s beginning Brexit madness. Nothing can be made sense of and yet we need words to express what’s happening. And then words provide for consoling and managing.

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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

By Jeanette Winterson

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Why this book?

Jeanette returns to her life story twenty-five years after Oranges are the Only Fruit. She escapes the religious cult she grew up in and finds solace and excitement in sexuality and learning. And she takes us on the journey of discovering her routes, her biological mother, her acceptance of Mrs. Winterson, and her struggles to live with the wounds of displacement, of being the wrong child, of bringing joy to those who love her words.

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Red Dust Road

By Jackie Kay

Red Dust Road

Why this book?

Jackie and her brother were adopted by a loving working-class family in Glasgow. They were communists and thoughtful about the adoption process. Jackie becomes a beloved poet and a wonderful public performer. She was recently made the Poet Laureate of Scotland – The Scots Makar. In this book, she traces her childhood and her quest to meet her father in Lagos and to discover her biological parentage and story. It’s a story of belonging and of not belonging. Of finding, fitting, and not fitting. It moves and uplifts us.

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Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

By Afua Hirsch

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

Why this book?

Afua’s father is from a Jewish refugee family, her mother is Ghanian. She grows up in an affluent middle-class suburb of London. As she explores her Black and Ghanian identity she looks at what it means to be British; the political heritage, race, and identity from the inside of a loving mix raced family. It is an important commentary on her experience of being in more than one place at the same time.

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Random Book Lists

The best books about the First World WarAdam Zamoyski Author Of Warsaw 1920: Lenin’s Failed Conquest of EuropeAdam Zamoyski

The best books on science, mathematics, and philosophyMario Livio Author Of Galileo: And the Science DeniersMario Livio

The best books on secret agents and espionage in WW2Shrabani Basu Author Of Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat KhanShrabani Basu

The greatest epicsNicholas Jubber Author Of Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of EuropeNicholas Jubber

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