The Arts

Paging Dr. Freud

By Louise Sloan '88 / April–May 2024
April 5th, 2024
Illustration of Sigmund Freud

Literary agent Andrew Blauner ’86 has edited anthologies on everything from the Beatles to the Bible. His latest, On the Couch: Writers Analyze Sigmund Freud, has 25 essays on the good doctor, including one by trans writer Jennifer Finney Boylan, who, in “Penis Envy,” muses on her experience as someone who had one and now does not. In the process, she writes, she went to psychoanalysis that was “just like in the cartoons, me lying on a couch, my analyst staring at his notepad from his chair adjacent.” The volume includes three Brown-related writers, alums Rick Moody ’83 (The Ice Storm) and Casey Schwartz ’04 (In the Mind Fields) as well as emeritus psychiatry professor Peter D. Kramer, MD (Listening to Prozac). Schwartz’s essay analyzes Freud’s house in London, 20 Maresfield Garden, first visited as a grad student in psychoanalysis. Kramer recalls being sent as a preteen to an analyst who, “pursuing his clumsy version of orthodox Freudianism...steered the conversation to sex at every opportunity.” Kramer found that helpful, in its way: “I gathered...that it was okay for me to think about sex a lot.” Moody references Brown, saying that “circa 1979-83 [the University] was nothing if not a hotbed of Marx and Freud,” and telling the story of passing out in Semiotics 12—one of the classes with Freud on the syllabus—after a post-breakup night of Quaaludes and whiskey.

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April–May 2024