WHAT WOULD FREUD SAY?
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.
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.
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.)