Sigmund Freud, Father of Psychoanalysis, Introduced in a Monty Python-Style Animation

Pity the hedge­hog. The freez­ing tem­per­a­tures of win­ter com­pel them to cozy up to oth­ers of its kind, but the prick­ly spines cov­er­ing their bod­ies pre­vent them from sus­tain­ing the easy, ongo­ing inti­ma­cy they so crave.

It’s a hell of a metaphor for human rela­tion­ships, com­pli­ments of 19th-cen­tu­ry philoso­pher Arthur Schopen­hauer. It cer­tain­ly spoke to Sig­mund Freud, who devot­ed his life try­ing to fig­ure out why so many of us resort to pet­ty behav­iors, spurn­ing those we love, and sab­o­tag­ing our­selves at every turn.

Pop­u­lar rep­re­sen­ta­tions would have us believe that the father of psy­cho­analy­sis was a detached sort of know-it-all, emo­tion­al­ly supe­ri­or to the bas­ket cas­es snivel­ing on his couch. Not so. As he not­ed in 1897:

I have been through some kind of neu­rot­ic expe­ri­ence, curi­ous states… twi­light thoughts, veiled doubts… The chief patient I am pre­oc­cu­pied with is myself… my lit­tle hys­te­ria… the analy­sis is more dif­fi­cult than any oth­er. Some­thing from the deep­est depths of my own neu­ro­sis sets itself against any advance in under­stand­ing neu­roses…

We feel ya’, doc, and so does The School of Life, the Lon­don-based orga­ni­za­tion for devel­op­ing emo­tion­al intel­li­gence, co-found­ed by philo­soph­i­cal essay­ist, Alain de Bot­ton:

… con­sult­ing a psy­chother­a­pist should be as acces­si­ble and as nor­mal as devel­op­ing your career, get­ting help for a phys­i­cal prob­lem, or going to the gym to get healthy. Just as we take care of our bod­ies and phys­i­cal health, a vital ele­ment of self-care is devot­ing focused time and ener­gy to explor­ing and under­stand­ing our thoughts and feel­ings.

The school puts your mon­ey where its mouth is by retain­ing a ros­ter of licensed psy­chother­a­pists who can be booked for in-per­son or Skype ses­sions.

It’s not for every­one. There are those who are deter­mined to pur­sue the path to con­tent­ment and self-knowl­edge solo, imper­vi­ous to Freud’s belief that “No one who dis­dains the key will ever be able to unlock the door.”

The ther­a­py-averse can still learn some­thing from the video above. Nar­ra­tor de Bot­ton charms his way through an eas­i­ly digest­ed overview of Freud’s per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al life, and the result­ing tenets of psy­cho­analy­sis.

And film­mak­er Mad Adam ensures that this brief trip through the infant phases—oral, anal, phallic—will be a jol­ly one, replete with droll, most­ly vin­tage images.

Release more mon­sters of the id with the School of Life’s psy­chother­a­py playlist.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

20,000 Let­ters, Man­u­scripts & Arti­facts From Sig­mund Freud Get Dig­i­tized and Made Avail­able Online

Down­load Sig­mund Freud’s Great Works as Free eBooks & Free Audio Books: A Dig­i­tal Cel­e­bra­tion on His 160th Birth­day

What is Love? BBC Phi­los­o­phy Ani­ma­tions Fea­ture Sartre, Freud, Aristo­phanes, Dawkins & More

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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