Freudian Slips

Sigmund_Freud_MYDRAWINGFreudian slip is a verbal error that supposedly reveals hidden messages from the unconscious.

“If it’s not one thing, it’s my mother” is a classic example.

Sigmund Freud first introduced the concept of slips in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, writing  in German. It wasn’t until 2014, however, that the text became available in translation in America.

A mere 90 years after that, George W. Bush became one of America’s  most hilarious “slippers.”

  • “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004
  • “I’m telling you there’s an enemy that would like to attack America, Americans, again. There just is. That’s the reality of the world. And I wish him all the very best.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2009

Did quotes like these reveal our President’s unconscious desire to harm our country? Well, was vice presidential candidate All Gore revealing ill will towards America, too, when, in the midst of the 1992 campaign, he  noted that every communist government in eastern Europe had fallen within 100 days and then promised his audience,

  • “Now it’s our turn here in the United States of America.”

And what’s going on with news anchors and sports commentators when they make blatantly sexual slips during live broadcasts?

Whether they’re about sports, politics, communism, or mothers, the year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Freudian slips in America. I’ll post a few as I make or remember them. I hope you’ll tell me yours, too, so that I can post them here.

—Rebecca Coffey, author, HYSTERICAL: Anna Freud’s Story (She Writes Press, 2014).

As reported by USA Today

“A proclamation by Nevada’s governor honoring state employees mistakenly included an embarrassing typo.

“The word ‘cultural’ was replaced by a part of the female anatomy, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal.

‘This document included an embarrassing typographical error,” Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY Network.”I sincerely apologize for this mistake, and take full responsibility. It won’t happen again.’

The proclamation was supposed to say, ‘State employees … preserve our natural and cultural resources.’

Asked if anyone was reprimanded for the mistake, the governor’s office said in the email, ‘We do not discuss personnel matters outside the office.'”

Blimey, Guv’nor!

staytOn April 12 BBC Breakfast presenter Charlie Stayt, meaning to report on Prince William’s departure from the RAF (Royal Air Force), said that Prince William had recently left his service ‘with the IRA’ (Irish Republican Army, which fought a guerilla war against Britain for much of the 20th century). And there’s video:


Oh, Heavenly Daze!


We always felt he was just like us. And now we know it’s true. The Pope has let the f-word fly.

In his weekly address, Pope Francis mispronounced the Italian word “caso” (which means “example”) and used “cazzo” (“f**K”) instead, saying:

“A heart full of longing for possession is a heart empty of God. For this Jesus many times chastised the rich because the risk for them to seek security in the wealth of the world is high. In this f**k, the providence of God is made visible….”

Really visible. Thank you, Lord, for that a moment of levity.

Well, Pope Francis is Argentinian, and he was speaking in Italian. And he immediately corrected himself. But then, so do most of us when we inadvertently speak what is truly on our minds.

Entre Nu


From a friend:

Big family gathering at the Igloo Pancake House. I am at the head of table and my college aged son was at the foot. The food took a long time coming (12 of us) and when it finally got there we were all famished. Son made a drama of that by grabbing the sausage into his hands, growling comically and biting the end. Me: ” J—- is a grown man now! He can grab his meat in both hands!” Realizing what I had just said, I quietly put my fork down and hoped no one had noticed me over the din. Uh huh. That one lives in family history.

With Onions, I’m Thinking

From Michael Hudson:

[Me (RC):  All right, Michael. I’m collecting personal Freudian slip stories, and I’m absolutely certain you’ve got a good one. Send it on over? Pretty please? I’ve created a “100 Years of Freudian Slips” blog because it’s the 100th anniversary of the publication in America of the English translation of Sigmund Freud’s The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. And you know me. I’ll make an occasion out of anything.]

Michael:   Sorry, I’d like to help but I just homoerotic everything bagel prostitute love trysted.


Get Me Re-Write!

When I was in my twenties I was a copy editor at a major accounting firm in San Francisco (since closed in one of those huge, conflict-of-interest accounting scandals).

There was an accountant who visited us copy editors (all females, all in our twenties) at every opportunity to talk about one fine point or another. And he always looked straight at our breasts as he talked.


I proofed a major proposal for the firm. He was to be the lead accountant on the auditing job. And it wasn’t until after the proposal was printed, bound, submitted, and rejected that I noticed that on his resume I’d failed to catch a typo. The typist had described him as a Certified Pubic Accountant, and evidently I’d agreed.

—Rebecca Coffey

Free Throw

Fran Lyngaarrd Hansen writes:

basketballhoop“First day as a teacher, right out of college, the principal gives me playground duty before school starts. Excited kids run to the door when the bell rings, and there I am, ready to keep order and prove my worth. The principal is watching me from the window inside. My first order of business? To maintain order at all costs to show him I am worthy of this position. The fifth and sixth grade boys are bouncing basketballs, making too much noise for me to be heard. My first official statement as a teacher? ‘Gentlemen! Please hold your balls!’  They all dropped the basketballs and cupped the family jewels.”

Fannies and NPR


From Annie Quest:

“I was in the UK working with a friend who is a photographer. I met him at a shoot with clients and announced that I bad been running the day before and my fanny was killing me…. I forgot that the definition of fanny in the UK does not refer to the derriere but to the the vajayjay….”

[And what happened in the UK during the fanny pack era?]

“Also,  in the early days, when CD’s were first replacing cassettes, an acquaintance of mine who worked as a broadcaster for NPR announced that a piece of music she had just played was available on compact dick.”

I Love Caulk


From my friend Stacey Lindell:

“When we were building our house my friend came over to help me with some of the mend and blend work before we started painting. While we were toiling away, in absolutely filthy conditions, and with a number of Vermont-ish type construction guys around I said (entirely by accident and to my mortification) ‘I love caulk.’ To which a round of hearty guffaws erupted from all around me. It was singularly the most embarrassing moment of my life.”

Freudian Slips in the News

We’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Freudian Slip in America, even though it’s now about 113 years since Freud published The Psychopathology of Everyday Life in its original German.

Not too terribly long ago, researchers from the University of Michigan presented a study at the annual meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association. They claimed to have demonstrated that Freud was correct in teaching that slips of the tongue reveal hidden emotional machinations. The London Mail Online did a nice job of writing up their presentation.


Mind you, it was an extremely small study—11 people. And the researchers “tested” for anxieties rather than desires, which was really what Freud had in mind regarding slips.

Ahem. What am I saying? Freud also taught that any fear is a repressed wish—which is to say that anxiety is the flip side of longing. So forget the above criticism and read the article. It’s fun.

—Rebecca Coffey