“She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the Universe on her shoulders and it look like a pair of wings.”
– Ariana Dancu
Has a thought ever peeked around the curtain of your subconscious long enough for you to know it should stay there? But before your ego could suppress it, the id was running out of the portal of your head called your mouth. Known as Freudian slips, classical psychologists deem these so-called misstatements revelations of the underlying, unconscious thoughts or feelings. According to Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, unacceptable thoughts are locked away from the conscious awareness. According to him, when these thoughts “slip through,” it reveals deeper intention. Cognitive psychologists, however, attribute these errors to phonetic similarities or links to emotional context. Either way, a “slip of the tongue” is often embarrassing and humorous when it occurs.
This happened to me in the form of a text sent to a friend recently. When I read it back to myself, I was mortified and tickled. That’s one thing about me…I find humor in the most morbid and embarrassing times. My sister and I caught a case of the giggles at my aunt’s funeral a few years back. We thought she would be laughing too at some of the shenanigans that took place. I remember how surreal it was to see her lying there, but I couldn’t stop laughing. Psychologists believe humor to be a “mature” defense mechanism. I feel my humor reflects my true, childlike nature making sense of life’s intricacies.
As a neurologist, I give life-altering diagnoses on a regular basis. I observe the gamut of patient reactions. Early in my career, I worried less about the patients who cracked a joke after hearing serious news. With deeper introspection, I now circle back more often to these patients, the “strongest of these”…those laughing instead of crying…those who smile to reassure their loved one that all is well. I see myself in them, just frightened kids trying to reconstruct shattered moments in time. Rehearsing mature responses doesn’t replace their need for empathy. To the contrary, the “strong ones” need more love and attention. After all, they usually give the world the most.
Dr. Dee is a board-certified neurologist with specialty training in clinical neurophysiology committed to educate the community on how to live more healthy lives.
*According to Sigmund Freud’s model of the mind, the psyche is comprised of the “id,” “ego,” and “superego.” The id is the portion of the mind based in instinctive drives and impulses. Developmentally, id precedes the ego, which when functional serves to rationalize id’s desires and mediate them with reality. One’s superego is where the conscience is housed, being filled with ideals and principles of perfection. Freudian psychologists see these three facets in constant conflict. To overcome this, the ego creates defense mechanisms.