You’ve seen it and said it many times: that wasn’t just a mistake, it was a “Freudian slip”. They intended to write or say something else, but their fingers or voices revealed what they were really thinking. And haven’t you observed on occasion that someone’s speech, behavior or work of art — with all its sexual overtones — is very “Freudian”? In fact, isn’t Freudian just another way of saying “sexually suggestive”?
Freud died 75 years ago yesterday, and it’s not just his name that lives on in the form of a meaningful slip of the tongue. No, the father of psychoanalysis might go in and out of fashion in the lecture halls of psychological academia, but whether or not we agree with his teachings and writings, his concepts are here to stay — in the words and language of our daily lives. And it’s not all about sex, even if Freud would have wanted us to believe otherwise. We complain about our friend being anal — and we’re not talking about his toilet habits; we’re happy to blame our own or someone else’s flaws on the unconscious. We wonder if she’s projecting her own fantasies onto him, or whether he’s in denial. Our ids get us into trouble (and I don’t mean fake IDs), and we hope our superegos will keep those naughty urges in check. “I hope you’re not psychoanalyzing me”, we say fearfully when we meet a psychology student for the first time, however ridiculous that reaction might be. And who hasn’t hypothesized about someone repressing their true feelings, or regressing emotionally? Freud gave us all these words, whether he invented them or just gave them a popular psychological sense or meaning. Continue reading