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SATURDAY’S CHILD: Freud’s source of fun


SATURDAY’S CHILD: Freud’s source of fun

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The Communication University of China offers a master’s degree in pubic relations, a Dr Deborah Gabriel, in a post tagged under Pubic Relations, showed off the fully clothed student who had won the prize for the best dissertation paper, and the Urban Dictionary says, “There aren’t any definitions for pubic relations yet. Can you define it?”

If I had to define what “pubic relations” is, I would say it is most likely a typographical error but most people call it a “Freudian slip”. 

In late 1970, I worked as a press officer in the Public Relations Division of the Prime Minister’s Office in Trinidad and even now I am very careful in ensuring that I do not leave out the “l” in “public”.

In those days, working on a battered Remington typewriter with a worn and torn ribbon, I had to be ultra-careful because hitting any key was no guarantee that you would get the letter you typed or, for that matter, any letter at all. I had to make sure, though, that I did not incur the wrath of the irascible prime minister, Dr Eric Williams, so I beat the living “l” out of the typewriter.

A “Freudian slip” is a phenomenon that was explored by Sigmund Freud in his 1901 book The Psychopathology Of Everyday Life. He looked at the reason we make errors in what we say, write and do, and focused on the subconscious mind as the cause or “trigger”.

He called it “psychoanalysis” but later it became a “Freudian slip: or “parapraxis”. 

So if in discussing why power is an aphrodisiac, you write, “The penis mightier than the sword” you have made a Freudian slip. If you pronounce “psychotherapist” as “Psycho the rapist”, that’s another. Freudian slips affect one in sex people.

Like George Bush (Sr), vice-president to Ronald Reagan. Making a speech about his years with Reagan, Bush said: “For seven and a half years I’ve worked alongside President Reagan, and I’m proud to have been his partner. We’ve had triumphs. We’ve made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex – setbacks.”

It was a serious setback when the audience laughed. 

Bush’s son, George W, who declared his intention, “I’d like to spank all the teachers . . . ” meant “thank” but it was too late. One that was even worse was when George W’s Secretary of State and former Provost of Stanford University, Condoleezza Rice, had her Freudian slip. 

It was long believed that Rice had something going with the married George W, so when she said: “As I was telling my husb— . . . as I was telling President Bush,” it took off like Air Force One. As one commentator said: “The Freudian slip seemed to reveal perhaps some hidden feelings the unmarried Rice might hold toward her boss.”

Pope slips up

Even though the Pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals, like any other human he too can fall victim to the irrepressible Dr Freud. There was the Argentinian, Spanish-speaking Pope Francis, well into his Sunday sermon at the Vatican and speaking fluid Italian when he slid into Freud.

He used the word “cazzo”, which can be translated into English as a four-letter word beginning with “F” meaning “sexual intercourse” but can also mean “penis”. The word he wanted was “caso”, meaning “example”. The Pope quickly corrected himself and set the “caso” for rectitude but not before the video was posted on many websites and YouTube videos. 

As Freudian slips go this was more like a half-slip but it had legs.

During a televised speech on education, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy was supposed to say, “Our national interest ought to be to encourage the best and brightest.” Instead, Kennedy accidentally said breast, his hands even cupping the air as he said the word.

As one journalist said: “While he quickly corrected his error and continued, the slip of the tongue seemed revealing, considering his hand gestures and the family’s reputation for womanising.” 

Four examples from Psychology Today add to the overall picture.

 “Nice to beat you,” smiles a woman when she meets the ex-girlfriend of her husband.

 A dinner guest thanks his host “for the hostility”.

 Soon after the adulterous Tiger Woods complained of a neck injury, a female reporter blurted that the golfer withdrew from the 2010 Players tournament due to “a bulging di**” in his back (meaning “disk”).

 When Osama, the founder of al-Qaeda, was finally ambushed and killed, a critic of the president said: “Obama is dead and I don’t care.”

 Tony Deyal was last seen saying that hearing Donald Trump speak he can understand why former United States Vice-President Dan Quayle said: “Republicans understand the importance of bondage between mother and child.”