Monday, 5 October 2009


Some years ago, anticant attended a short introductory course on psychoanalytic method at the arch-temple of Freudianism in Hampstead.

It was a fascinating experience.

The group of trainees, students, or whatever we were assembled in the room shortly before the session was due to begin. On the dot of the hour, the group leader – a staff member – entered the room without greeting us and provided an interpretative running commentary on whatever transpired between the group members during the ensuing hour. On the dot of the finishing time, she rose and stalked out of the room without looking at anyone or saying goodbye, whatever group interaction was in progress.

Her gimmick was never to address any of the group members directly, or to respond to their questions or comments except impersonally and obliquely.

This gave rise to a few hilarious moments. One pugnacious young man did his damnedest to provoke her into a direct exchange, without any success. At last he said: “Are all XXX Institute consultants such a pain in the arse?” Obviously slightly stung, but endeavouring to maintain her aloof composure, Mrs Z looked into the distance and said: “Miss Y (who was at the back of the room) has been in other XXX Institute groups, and can doubtless give her assessment of the relative pain-in-the-arseness of XXX Institute consultants”. Whereupon Miss Y demurely intimated that she wouldn’t dream of presuming to do any such thing.

When the course ended, anticant thought to himself ”Well, I’ll see if I can get her to communicate directly with me”. So he sent her a box of chocolates, with a note saying how interesting he had found the course.

He received a third-hand reply from her secretary, saying “Mrs Z has asked me to thank you for the chocolates”.

At that point even anticant gave up!


Merkin said...


anticant said...

As my memory cells regroup, I recall that what Miss Y actually said was: "Oh, I can assure you that Mrs Z is a positive angel compared with some of the others!"

Which makes it even funnier.

zola a social thing said...

Next please.

Mrs Z said...

Next please.