Sunday, 21 September 2014

Writing - A Freudian slip

It's 75 years since Sigmund Freud died and yet he has become a part of the English Language.

There's the Freud in textbooks. The bearded Viennese polymath who pioneered psychoanalysis. The Freud that academics never tire of arguing about.
Then there's the other Freud. The pub Freud. The one you might allude to when you mention dreams, or verbal slips, or someone fancying their mum. His relationship to the first Freud is tangential at best.
Eavesdrop on a conversation and it's likely that, sooner or later, a concept invented or popularised by the founding father of free association will pop up.
Oedipus complex. Denial. Id, ego and super-ego. Libido. Death wishes. Anal retentiveness. Defence mechanisms. Displacement. Phallic symbols. Projection. Transference. And, of course, Freudian slips.

It's not just Freud's terminology that is all over the popular lexicon. He's an adjective in his own right. 
Other 20th Century intellectuals can't compete. Not Sartre or Chomsky or Einstein. Film reviews in red-top tabloids rarely name-drop Foucault or de Beauvoir.
But everyone knows what you're on about when you mention Freud. Or at least they think they do. The unconscious. Sexual repression. Dreams. Mummy and daddy issues.

Freud had the advantage of being an extremely good writer, who would illustrate psychoanalysis with reference to the work of great artists such as Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and Leonardo da Vinci.

There is a theory that he became uppermost in the public consciousness because of writers and film makers. Virginia Woolf's  stream-of-consciousness books and Alfred Hitchcock's works such as Spellbound are about his work. If you add the works of Salvadore Dali, James Joyce and Woody Allen then Freud's influence is global and all pervasive. 

Keep writing, thinking and expressing your opinions because, as with Freud, not everyone will agree with what you write but if you don't write how can people come to those decisions? Of course you may not produce a new mind blowing theory or write bucket loads of memorable work but you never will unless you keep writing.

God Bless