Friday, January 8, 2016

Ooopsy! Freudian slip?

      According to, “A Freudian slip is a verbal or memory mistake that is believed to be linked to the unconscious mind. These slips supposedly reveal the real secret thoughts and feelings that people hold. Typical examples include an individual calling his or her spouse by an ex's name, saying the wrong word or even misinterpreting a written or spoken word.” Most of us who've studied almost ANY psychology have heard of these, and have encountered them. I would hazard a guess that I'm not alone in having even "slipped" occasionally myself.
      I have to wonder, however, when we "
slip", how often we apologize by saying something like,"You misunderstood me" or "I'm sorry you took it that way"?  Of course, then our "slip" and any misunderstanding or damage it caused was the OTHER person's fault, not ours.  Even a more generous "I mis-spoke" can hide what we're really thinking, what our brain actually had in mind (pardon the pun) before the mouth was engaged.  Reading the news of the presidential campaigning reveals ALL SORTS of examples of these kinds of things -- some of them occurring when the candidate assumed s/he was in a "friendly crowd" and could get away with a "slip", others, perhaps, intentional, but then covered up.
       That kind of political rhetoric (or slip-up) aside, I've seen some other "oopsies" that are less public, but perhaps more troubling.  I've been with well-meaning people, people with whom I agree on almost everything (except, perhaps, their choice of sports franchises) and I've heard some pretty disturbing things come out of their mouths.  When I "call them on it", they back-pedal, often saying something like "I don't know where that came from!"  Perhaps a classic Freudian slip.
       Where this seems to happen most often in my world is around questions of religion (and/or ethnicity related to religion). I recently was in conversation with someone who "slipped" and said "ISIS" instead of "Islam".  The conversation had nothing whatsoever to do with the current situation; it was simply about religion.  When I challenged my conversation partner, the "
I don't know where that came from!" line was the response. I know this person! S/he does NOT equate Islam with those terrorists who claim to be members of that religious tradition. Was it a "Freudian slip", or the result of so much reporting that simplifies global/religious complexities?
wrote some weeks back about young people, especially Muslims, who hear or read, very little that is GOOD about their traditions in the mainstream media.  I pointed out, based on others' thoughtful analysis, that these young people become easier "pickings" for radical recruiters. But I'm also beginning to wonder if the reporting we hear is beginning to change OUR ways of thinking -- not necessarily intentionally, but simply through repetition.  Certainly advertisers work based on that theory.   But I worry that we aren't spending enough time self-policing what we hear/read so that we know when we're beginning to cross the line into "stereotypical thinking".  Thinking that may come out in very hurtful ways.
       I doubt I have any "brilliant" solution, but, just as we are counseled to look at what we eat when we are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, it may make sense for us to examine what we readily, and voluntarily, "consume" when it comes to news. We certainly can't stick our heads in the sand, but we can encounter the news with discernment and humanity.  And we can pay close attention to our "oopses" and what they might mean.



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