When I began my therapeutic journey more than forty years ago, Freud was in vogue. My first therapy experience was psychoanalysis once a week, lying on an honest-to-God couch and free associating.

Sigmund Freud. It’s just a cigar.

Freudian psychology was something of a cult. Freud had some peculiar ideas which he worked up into a theory of psychiatric illness and healing. These ideas were mostly incapable of being tested. Freud was trying to imagine what went on in the unconscious, with no way to confirm his notions.

Mostly it was unverifiable bullshit. Still, my first therapeutic experience was helpful – I began to improve markedly. The therapy helped, but perhaps not for the reasons the psychoanalysts thought.

The problem with Freud’s theories is that everything you said or did had hidden motives, and it was always pathological. If you said “good morning,” you were likely to be told that you wanted to murder your father and marry your mother. That might be slightly exaggerated, but not by much.

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