A Dream Appointment With Doctor Freud Posted on 12 Jun 01:22 , 0 comments

By Vivi Rathbone.

I fall asleep and awake into Freud’s office in my dreams.

I know it’s Sigmund Freud, but he looks like Woody Allen, with his New York accent.  He’s the Woody Allen from Manhattan, with the irritating lip smacking.  He’s in black and white, and I faintly hear George Gershwin playing in the background.

He adjusts his glasses, as he sits in his leather chair, and invites me to take my place on the recliner.  I accept his invitation, and lay down on the comfortable sofa.

He takes out his notes.  They aren’t actually his notes, they are a list I wrote of everything that I want in life.

“So”, Sigmund Woody Freud Allen begins, “your analyst referred you to me, and said that you have a fear of success.” 

“Yes, Doctor.”  I reply.

“Please, call me Sigmund.”  He suggests.

“Well, I prefer to call you Doctor.”  I reply.

“Well, then that’s fine.  I’m more interested in what you prefer to call me, than in what I prefer to be called.  So tell me about your fear of success.”  

“I don’t really understand the concept of fear of success.  It seems so backwards – why would we be afraid of what we really want?  It makes sense to be afraid of failure.  Failure feels terrible, but to succeed is wonderful.  To be afraid of success seems like self-hatred, and no one really hates themselves, even people who are critical, or unkind to themselves do so because they care.”

“Fear of success is an abstract concept.”  Freud explained.  “I should know, I invented it.  I also invented the id, ego and super-ego, concepts which are pervasively accepted in society, yet modern day academia has the impudence to call me an insane, sexist, outdated, cocaine addict.”

“Oh Doctor, they just don’t get you like I do.”  I consoled him.

“It’s fine dear, it’s to their own detriment, although that is hardly a satisfying revenge.  Maybe I can help you understand fear of success by telling you a story.”

“I do love your stories.”  I encouraged him.  Then he told me one:

Once I had a patient about your age.  She was full of potential, although she battled a severe princess syndrome.  She had everything that one might require for success available to her.  Like you, she wrote a list of everything that she wanted in life, including a definition of her prince.  

One day, two princes arrived to her life, both of them unexpected, and both quite different.  She went out with both of them.

The first prince swept her off her feet.  He was charming, and opened up to her, sharing his hopes, and dreams, and insecurities so easily.   In public he was the man that strangers wanted to meet.  He shared her career passions, and possessed enough excitement and danger to entice her.  When he kissed her she tasted his melancholy.  Underneath his charm she knew that he was hiding a broken heart.  A tragic symptom of princess syndrome is to want to fix broken hearts, because princesses believe they have the power to do so.  

Like a hurricane, he swept through her life, leaving a mess.  When he disappeared she was confused and heartbroken.  Determined to be strong, she severed her emotional ties and contemplated the second prince, who waited patiently, while staying busy with his work.  

She went out with him and they acted as friends.  They had good conversations, and it was easy to be around him.  He was comfortable with himself, and honest.  He didn’t seem dangerous, he was smart, and responsible.  He planned out dates in advance and was true to his word.  She saw how he cared for and served others, and she admired that.  He was sincere and stable.  She liked his jokes.  

When he kissed her she felt surprised by the passion and kindness he shared.  He didn’t have a broken heart; he didn’t need to be rescued.  He stroked her hair, and she felt ready to move forward with someone who embodied the characteristics she admired, someone she enjoyed, and with whom she felt a connection.

Of course, predictably, this is the time that the first prince came back into the picture.  As if he could feel her moving on, he returned swiftly to distract her with invitations to fancy meals, melodramatic excuses, and charm. 

 She saw before her two clear choices: a relationship set for success, and one doomed for failure.  The first prince was a clear manifestation of her fear of success.  To choose him would guarantee her unhappiness, yet she found herself afraid to commit to the second prince who offered her a potential successful relationship, almost as if she felt undeserving.

“So what did she do?”  I was totally hooked on the story, empathizing deeply with the princess.

Sigmund Woody Freud Allen replied slowly.  “Well, Vivi, you know, you never remember a dream unless your conscious is ready to deal with the lesson that the dream is there to teach you.  So I can only answer your question with another question:

Are you ready to overcome your fear of success?”

I wake up.