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14 Ruth Spencer in­vites a trio of fa­mous psy­chother­a­pists to de­bate mod­ern fads

Ruth Spencer in­vites a trio of fa­mous psy­chother­a­pists to de­bate mod­ern fads

As a so­ci­ety we’re quite will­ing to go to hell in a hand­cart, so long as that hand­cart is trend­ing on Instagram. Every few weeks a new craze takes hold of us, and we re­spond like a bunch of doe-eyed kit­tens to the mouse-on-a-string of con­sumerism. For­tu­nately it’s so much fun we don’t re­ally mind, even as the kids de­mand JoJo bows for each of their Hatchi­mals.

But what would the psy­chol­ogy the­o­rists of old have made of our mod­ern trends? Are they more mean­ing­ful than we think? Us­ing the ac­cepted sci­en­tific method we pre­tended to get Freud, Jung and Pavlov in a group text chat for their opin­ions and the re­sults are in.


An an­i­mal-eared dress­ing gown you have to take off to go to the toi­let, one­sies are avail­able to buy any­where, and ap­pro­pri­ate to wear nowhere.

Freud: The one­sie is a womb. It’s in­fan­tile and you’re trapped in there but it’s in­nately com­fort­ing.

Jung: It’s deeper than that, I think. One­sies are the col­lec­tive un­con­scious at work: they take the wearer back to when we were all fur­rier beasts; a sim­pler time, be­fore evo­lu­tion gave us the op­pos­able thumbs that ir­re­vo­ca­bly led to tin­der swip­ing. What do you think, Ivan? Pavlov: I mean … you’re a dog. You’re lit­er­ally dressed as a dog. Freud: Ooh, I have more to say about bes­tial de­sires. Jung: How about “no”?

Take­away cof­fee cups

So ubiq­ui­tous you don’t even know you’re par­tic­i­pat­ing in a trend.

Freud: It’s a boob sub­sti­tute. A boob­sti­tute, if you will. You’re suck­ing warm milk out of a boob. Don’t get me started on the milk frother wand.

Jung: Cof­fee is a magic po­tion that gives you en­ergy — the cof­fee cup is the archetype of the Holy Grail, a cup con­tain­ing the elixir of life.

Freud: Like I said, a boob.

Pavlov: You can’t hear a grinder with­out drool­ing — and that’s es­sen­tially my life’s work.

Ed Sheeran

A mil­lion tick­ets sold in Aus­trala­sia, but will our post-mil­len­nial ba­bies be danc­ing to Gal­way Girl when they’re old enough to change the Spo­tify? No. Freud: The world is very threat­en­ing at the mo­ment; the men in charge are clum­sily fondling the nu­clear but­ton (which should re­ally be a joy­stick, if you see my mean­ing). Peo­ple are at­tracted to the image of non-threat­en­ing sex­u­al­ity, the brother fig­ure who couldn’t find the but­ton with both hands and a com­pass.

Jung: Ew. Or per­haps his songs tap into our soul’s fa­mil­iar dreams of long­ing, com­mu­nity, and know­ing all the words at the pub.

Pavlov: We’ve been con­di­tioned to like him by fa­mil­iar­ity. He looks a bit like the funny one in Harry Pot­ter, and he sounds a bit like More FM. Jung: He’s pop­u­lar now but soon he’ll be in the Mother’s Day bin with Bu­ble and that guy who sang Jessie. Freud: Joshua Kadi­son. Oops, I mean, who? Lol — looks like I made a Freudian slip. XD Jung: Stop.

Fid­get spin­ners

Orig­i­nally de­signed to help peo­ple with at­ten­tion­d­eficit and sen­sory is­sues, the fid­get spin­ner is twirled be­tween the fin­gers. That’s all, re­ally.

Freud: Some­thing to flick and twid­dle in public? Where were these in my day?

Jung: They gen­er­ally have three cir­cles so they might rep­re­sent the trin­ity of soul, body and divin­ity, sep­a­rate but linked and also spin­ning end­lessly in the void — and I’m not sure where I’m go­ing with this.

Pavlov: Round and round? Jung: Haha.

Pavlov: A life­time of trend mar­ket­ing will make peo­ple buy any­thing, no mat­ter how stupid. The bell has sup­planted the re­ward and I win.

Freud: While Pavlov was talk­ing I went out and got one and guys, this is awe­some.


Real-time TV is dead, ads are dead, binge­watch­ing is life. When our time is up we’ll know we had joy, we had fun, we had sea­sons.

Jung: This one’s easy. When you’re fully im­mersed in a show, you’re ba­si­cally in a dream state. You’re not just check­ing out Jon Snow’s butt, you’re com­muning with the col­lec­tive un­con­scious on a higher plane.

Freud: It’s the butt, Carl. TV plugs straight into the plea­sure cen­tres; you’re vi­car­i­ously liv­ing all that sex and vi­o­lence and you like it. It’s who you re­ally are. You’re sali­vat­ing over it.

Pavlov: You rang?


Glit­ter and rain­bows go hand-in-hoof with the pop­u­lar­ity of this myth­i­cal beast.

Freud: Do you need to ask me? It’s lit­er­ally horny. Okay, se­ri­ously though, tra­di­tion­ally only a vir­gin could tame a uni­corn, so let’s ask Carl.

Jung: Oh, very ma­ture. The uni­corn is a sym­bol that we recog­nise from our shared an­ces­tral mem­o­ries. It’s about purity and no­bil­ity and beauty. Not sur­prised you’re un­fa­mil­iar with those con­cepts, Sig­mund. Freud: :P Pavlov: Does any­one even care what I think? Jung: You were pretty mean to those dogs, so no ac­tu­ally?

Freud: Any­one want to twid­dle my spin­ner? (Note: The group chat went sig­nif­i­cantly off topic here, so we wrapped it up.)

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