By: Grace Zhang
The subconscious is an intricate part of our mind, yet we still do not know much about it. In it houses memories, emotions and desires that you, the owner, are not even aware of. Well, if you have feelings that you don’t even know about, that means others do too. A Freudian slip supposedly gives us a glimpse into these unconscious aspects of someone that they may not even know about.
Sigmund Freud, arguably one of the most influential psychologists of all time, was the first to introduce the idea of a Freudian slip of the tongue (also called a parapraxis). His most notable work includes developing the psychoanalytic theory, which states that your childhood experiences and unconscious desires influence your behaviour, as well as the psychosexual development theory that pertains to the adult personality. While Freud would talk to his patients, he believed that what they told him was not enough; that to truly understand their desires and feelings you had to pay attention to their slips of the tongue.
Freudian slips are when you make a verbal mistake that allegedly shows your true inner feelings and wants that are kept in your subconscious. One study that set to investigate if Freudian slips did truly show one’s inner desires used electric shocks and sex to do so. The study (Ef ects of Cognitive Set Upon Laboratory Induced [Freudian] Slips) had some participants greeted by a middle-aged professor while the others were greeted by a provocatively dressed female lab assistant. The study then proceeded to hand the groups a list of word pairs (designed to induce word slips) for them to read silently. However, when a buzzer sounded, the participants would have to read the word pair out loud. As predicted, when reading the word pairs out loud they made mistakes related to sex; fast passion instead of past fashion and happy sex instead of sappy hex. Another portion of the participants was told that they had a 70% chance of being shocked mildly and as a result, they also made errors when reading the word pairs (misreading worst cottage as cursed wattage and shad bock as a bad shock).
In his 1988 campaign, George Bush illustrated how a parapraxis can happen to anyone. While describing his experience being the vice president for Ronald Reagan at a speech, he said: “For seven and a half years I've worked alongside President Reagan. We've had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We've had some sex . . . uh . . . setbacks." Even the best of us can have an accidental word slip up!
Although many of Freud’s work has since been proven to be false, he remains an imperative figure in the field of psychology. The mind is still as enigmatic as always, with much of its inner workings still shrouded in secrecy from us. Perhaps in the future, we will truly know if Freudian slips are really opportunities to look into one’s true desires or if it simply is a verbal mistake.