Monday, March 31, 2008

Conversation with Sigmund Freud

Image: Jasper Johns

Chicago O’Hare airport, B Terminal, United Airways waiting area.

tm: “Mr. Freud?”

sf: “Yes, do I know you?”

tm: “Well, not directly but I have recognised your face from your book covers.”

sf: “Aha, so I still look like I used to.”

tm: “What are you doing in the USA?”

sf: “I am doing some research for a new book that I intend to write.”

tm: “That sounds incredibly interesting… You would not want to elaborate, would you?”

sf: “It is early days and I usually do not share my thoughts with complete strangers whom I meet at the airport.”

tm: “I understand… but you wouldn’t give me some hints while we are stuck here at this waiting area?”

sf: “Alright, if you must know… I am doing some research on the difference between Europeans and Americans…”

tm: “That sounds like you have cut out some work for yourself that should keep you busy for a while. What did you get interested in this subject?”

sf: “Self interest… ultimately it has to do with my profession…”

tm: “How so?”

sf: “Well, my central hypothesis is that Europeans have friends to talk things through when times get rough, whereas Americans rely on their psycho therapists for that. That’s why in general Americans appear much more cheerful, albeit superficial when talking to their friends… And maybe their friendships are lacking in depth sometimes… Haven’t you noticed that things are always ‘awesome’ and positive when you hear them talking about their lives?”

tm: “Now that you say so, I can see you might have a point.”

sf: “In Europe, people are complaining about their perceived miserable lives and - they are complaining openly to their friends…”

tm: “…and you think that makes Europeans more personable?”

sf: “At least to their friends… and that might make friendships between Europeans a bit deeper if fraught with a lot of fraction points, and spectacular fall-outs if things go wrong.”

tm: “Accordingly you think that Americans are less open when talking about their problems with their friends?”

sf: “That’s at least my hypothesis. That is maybe also the reason why Americans are less fuzzed when friendships disappear.”

tm: “So if your hypothesis is correct, which ‘friendship model’ - if I can call it that - would you prefer?”

sf: “I am neutral as to that… my research is purely factual not judgemental… from a narrow professional point of view, remember that I am a psycho therapist myself, I obviously prefer the American model…”

tm: “So where are you off to now exactly?”

sf: “Los Angeles, then off to Beverly Hills to set up my practice as a psycho therapist… If my thesis is correct, this should prove fertile ground… and, I need to make some money before I retire…”

(This piece of complete fiction borrows heavily from a conversation I had with a close [European] friend who lives in the States).

1 comment:

Holger said...

I agree with your hypothesis. Even though i wasn't aware that the reason for the shallowness in a lot of americans could be the therapists playing such a society-shaping role ?

I wholeheartedly recommend listening to

- Georg Kreisler - My Psychoanalyst is an Idiot
- Chad Mitchell Trio - The ballad of Sigmund Freud