Breakdown of Family Traced to Psych. 1 Student

Breakdown of Family Traced to Psych. 1 Student

From Chicken Soup for the College Soul

Breakdown of Family Traced to Psych. 1 Student

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

John Wooden

There is no joy quite like a visit from your college kid after he’s taken half a semester of Psychology 1.


Suddenly you’re living with Little Freud, and he’s got your number. With all this education, he now knows that a) your habit of washing the dishes after each meal is obsessive-compulsive, b) you smoke because you’re orally fixated, and c) you’re making terrible mistakes raising his younger brother.

No behavior escapes Little Freud’s scrutiny. The simplest conversations take on profound and incomprehensible meaning.

Getting Little Freud out of bed in the morning, for example, suddenly becomes a control issue:

“It’s past noon,” says the simple-minded mother. “Why don’t you get up?”

“Mom,” says Little Freud in a voice fraught with meaningful implication, “you’re obsessing. You shouldn’t disempower me this way. Why allow my behavior to affect your own sense of self? Besides, I have to stay in bed for a while to experience the consciousness of my being when my being is in nothingness.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” says the simple-minded mother. “But I say you’re sleeping. Now get up and help rake the leaves.”

“Classic transference,” says Little Freud in such a way that the simple-minded mother can only conclude she must have a psychic ailment as repulsive as fungus.

Little Freud also knows now that nothing is as simple as it might seem. Calling him to dinner can set off an analysis of your childhood:

“Dinner’s ready,” says Simple Mind.

“Don’t you think it’s time you stopped taking your Oedipal rage out on me?” asks Little Freud. “Just because you could never lure your father away from your mother is no reason to resent me.”

“What are you talking about?” asks Simple Mind. “I said it’s time to eat. What does that have to do with Oedipus?”

“In your unconscious, you associate food with pre-Oedipal gratification, which sets off a chain of associative thoughts leading straight to your rage, which you cannot acknowledge and, therefore, you transfer your hostility to me.”

“Be quiet and eat your dinner before it gets cold,” says Simple Mind.

“Aha!” says Little Freud, triumphant. “You see? Classic regression.”

Little Freud is also a skilled marriage counselor now that he’s done so much studying:

“I think it’s time you two confronted your feelings,” Little Freud tells his parents, who are simple-mindedly enjoying a bottle of wine in front of the fireplace.

“We can’t. We’re playing cards,” says Mr. Simple Mind. “Your mother and I have a policy against confronting our feelings and playing cards at the same time.”

“Classic avoidance,” declares Little Freud.

Little Freud is at his most eloquent, though, when he points out how wrong his simple-minded parents are about their method of raising kids:

“You’re not parenting him properly,” says Little Freud of his younger brother. “You’re too permissive, probably because you’re projecting your desire to be free of the shackles of your own stifled childhood.”

“What are you talking about?” says the simple-minded mother, who is getting pretty tired of asking Little Freud what he’s talking about.

“And he also seems to have a lot of rage,” says Little Freud, plunging on. “His id has taken over, and his superego has collapsed. He seems to be entertaining some classic primordial fixations. In fact, I think he wants to kill me.”

“He doesn’t really want to kill you, dear,” says Simple Mind. “I’ve hired him to do it for me.”

“Classic projection,” says Little Freud, disgustedly.

Beth Mullally

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