All Psychology Is Freudian

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So, tell me about your mother.

This is also known as "Somewhere A Psychologist Is Crying" and is a subtrope of Hollywood Psych and Small Reference Pools. Whenever psychology comes up in media, it will always use archaic/obsolete models like the Freudian one.

The cause of this trope is obvious: while it may be more factually accurate to determine that The Sociopath has no empathy because of a dodgy prefrontal cortex, it makes a much interesting story to say it is due to him being beaten by his father, misunderstood by everyone around him, and rejected from art school. A schizophrenic being treated with anti-psychotic drugs is unremarkable; one being cured by finally confronting the neighbour who raped her is triumphant. For that matter, biological treatment (e.g., drugs) is easy, fast and practical but boring, while mental asylums suck; Character Development-based treatment (e.g., psychoanalysis and humanistic therapies) might take time but brings contemplation, epiphany and triumphant catharsis with it.

Also see Freudian Couch. Freud Was Right sounds as if it might refer to this trope, but actually refers to a still more Flanderized understanding of Freud—the idea that our subconscious id is nothing more or less than our inner pervert, providing a constant litany of crude sexual thoughts.

Examples of All Psychology Is Freudian include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In The DCU's Kid Eternity, the titular character, who can summon the spirits of the dead, brings in Freud and Jung to analyze him when he thinks he might be crazy. They spend so much time arguing with each other, each insult reflecting modern opinion of their theories, that Kid eventually figures himself out completely independent of them.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Used in Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure. By Freud himself, no less. It helps that it's actually Ted's stepmother that's giving him the complex - his father's second wife who happens to be only a few years older than him.
  • Subverted in Forbidden Planet. When the captain asks Morbius what the ship's doctor meant by "monsters from the id," Morbius tells him that "id" is an obsolete term for a person's selfish and destructive urges.
  • In terms of Freudianism, the Ingmar Bergman film Persona makes little to no sense. However, when compared to a glossary of common terms in Jungian psychology, it practically goes down the list one by one, including an ultra-rare example of countertransference (basically, the patient drives the examiner crazy.)
  • Inception doesn't even give Freud the dignity of a dismissal; the "projections" encountered within dreams are nothing but unexpressed fragments of the dreamer's personality.
  • In the comedy What About Bob the psychologist idolizes Freud to the point that he named his son Sigmund.
  • Averted in Batman Begins with Jonathan Crane. The only psychology we see him engage in is total bullshit designed to get Rachel off his back, and even that actually namechecks Jungian theories instead of Freud. Although one could technically argue his status as a behavioural or biological psychologist, considering the ways he was using the fear gas.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • One of the main characters of The Longing of Shiina Ryo is firmly convinced of this.
  • Acts of the Apostles by John F. X. Sundman involves a bunch of Bill Gatesesque billionaires running around attempting to become self-actualized, may not count as they all are bat shit crazy from a modern psychological perspective.
  • In Cell the main characters theorize that the zombies running around killing people all had their ego and superego wiped out by a Pulse of electromagnetism coming from their cell phones, leaving only the id, which was Freud's fancy way of saying "the part of your brain that just wants to kill and screw".
  • Played straight and averted in Chaim Potok's Chosen. A Hassidic Jew is learning about psychology for the first time and is very disturbed by the writings of Freud as it conflicts on almost every level with his faith and upbringing. As Freud's theory was very neatly self-consistent, he finds it as difficult to ignore as it is to reconcile. Only when he learns that Freud's work only formed the basis of modern psychology and that most of his beliefs have been discarded is the conflict resolved.
  • In Crysis: Legion Alcatraz snarks about this when asked about his saving of a mother and child.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Sopranos: In the series premiere, Tony, as part of a larger rant on how he has to keep his therapeutic sessions with Dr. Melfi a secret, says: "I had a semester and a half of college, so I understand Freud. I understand therapy, as a concept. But in my world it does not go down!" The rest of the show is very good about it, but it figures that Tony, more given to malapropisms and pop-culture misunderstandings of complex topics, would immediately jump to Freud when thinking of psychology and psychiatry.
    • Some of Tony's sessions discussed concepts linked with Freud in the collective consciousness, such as hinting at a sexual attraction towards his mother.
  • Frasier is a Freudian psychiatrist, his brother is a Jungian psychiatrist. In an episode where Niles guest hosted Frasier's radio show, he said "While my brother is a Freudian, I am a Jungian! So there will be no blaming mother today!"
    • Niles' Jungian method sets up an epic joke when he pays for a magazine advertisement that ends up with one teeny typo:

Dr. Niles Crane, Hung specialist. Servicing individuals, couples, groups: satisfaction guaranteed. "Tell me where it hurts."

    • Lilith on the other hand is a firm behaviorist, often mocking Niles' and Frasier's psychoanalytical beliefs.

Congratulations, Frasier, you've done it again. You've led another unsuspecting innocent down one of your dark dead end Freudian hallways.

    • In fact, nearly every other doctor on Cheers and Frasier is a behavioralist, and Frasier's diehard Freudianism is something of a Running Gag.
      • Lampshaded when a student gave Frasier a bust of Freud, which he liked, then explained she gave it to him ironically, since nearly everything Freud said had since been proven false. Cut to Frasier's reaction.
    • Crowning Moment of Funny in "Don Juan in Hell", when Frasier starts hallucinating all his former lovers:

Lilith: It's that search for perfection that ultimately defeats you, because there is no perfect woman.
Hester Crane: Speak for yourself.
Frasier: Mother! What are you doing here?
Lilith: You have to ask? You're a Freudian.

    • There is an episode where Fraiser has a homoerotic dream and the next day he turns to his brother for help in interpreting it as something less... threatening to his ego. Niles is a Jungian analyst, but because 'all dream intepretation is Freudian' his suggestions are all very basic (and misapplied) Freudian precepts.

Niles: Here's something. [reads] "Dreams as an expression of wish fulfillment."

    • In fact, Niles often spouts neo-Freudian jargon rather than Jungian. Fans point out that if Niles were a true Jungian, he would believe that the collective unconscious accounted for Daphne's psychic ability.
  • Two and A Half Men: Mother issues are responsible for all of Charlie's womanizing and Alan's lack of women. Episodes have anvilized this to the point where Charlie has sex with a woman with the exact personality of his mother and Alan and Charlie have a sibling rivalry over an older woman Charlie's psychiatrist is convinced is a mother figure.

Charlie: You were conditioned as a child to seek Mom's approval. You're still seeking Mom's approval, and you make every woman in the world a substitute Mom.
Alan: But what about you? We had the same mother.
Charlie: Well, I handle my conditioning in a different way. I have casual and often degrading sex with my substitute Moms...but we're talking about you and not me so forget I said that.

D.I. Peter Carlisle: Ah, Freud would say that your jokes reveal a truth buried in your subconscious.

  • In Bones, Dr. Lance Sweets is the FBI psychologist assigned to evaluate Dr. Brennan and Agent Booth's working relationship. In addition to fulfilling every other annoying Hollywood Psych stereotype, he also relies heavily on Freudian language in his practice, referring to Oedipal attachments and various other discredited theories. It's no wonder Brennan constantly reminds us that she hates psychology, if this is the only type of psychology that she sees.
    • On the other hand, in the same series, Dr. Gordon Wyatt, a psychiatrist, considers psychology to be a superstitious practice and uses an eclectic approach that does not even consider medication necessarily applicable to all situations.
  • Charmed
    • Episode "Just Harried"

Phoebe Halliwell: So I just studied this in psych 101. Freud. You're the ID. Prue's inner desires. Which means that she is the ego. The control factor.

    • Episode "Sand Francisco Dreamin'"

Tracer Demon: [after seeing that Phoebe has stabbed her nightmare creature, and thereby also hurt herself] Would Freud have a field day with this or what?

  • CSI:
    • Episode "4x4"

Greg Sanders: No matter how hard you work to get big, there's always someone bigger.
Sara Sidle: It could be what keeps them going. Like Freud said, "Anatomy is destiny".
Greg Sanders: What do you think Freud would have to say about one of these being the murder weapon?

    • Episode "Fur And Loathing"

Grissom: Well, Freud said that the only unusual sexual behavior was to have none at all.

    • Yet another instance in which Freud was wrong! Being asexual may not be common, but it's not pathological...
    • Episode "Lab Rats" (although in this case Hodges is supposed to be coming across as pretentious).

Hodges: Freud's theory on the uncanny raises the point that as children we want the doll to come to life. But as adults, we are terrified by the idea. The doll could represent the uncanny that is feared. The Sandman."

Bree: I took psychology in college. We learned all about Freud. A miserable human being.

    • The episode actually averts this trope, as Bree's psychologist tells her that many of Freud's theories have been disproven (which pleases her).
    • This is actually a meta-reference. After she left Melrose Place, Marcia Cross earned a masters degree in psychology. She was thinking of starting a career in psychotherapy when she was cast as Bree.
  • Entourage episode "Strange Days"

Johnny Chase: Freud says there are no accidents.

  • There are a lot more examples at IMDb Search Quotes for "Freud" [dead link].
  • The fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured a psychology teacher who in one episode explicitly referenced Freud and the id. However, given that this was a first-year course, it could be she's simply going through the history of the field; since it occurs in Buffy's dream, it might also be a way of showing that Buffy's not doing too well in the class.
    • To be fair, in the dream the teacher also made her kiss Riley on the desk as a demonstration, but Buffy probably doesn't think that's a regular part of a psychology class. The Freud reference could have simply been more dream randomness—or even a link to the fast-approaching sexytimes.
  • The recurring character of Dr. Sidney Freedman on Mash was very much a Freudian psychoanalyst; in one episode ("Dear Sigmund"), he even writes a letter to Freud himself... despite the fact that Freud died in 1939, which B.J. promptly lampshades.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Leslie Winkle suggests Penny is escaping into the MMORPG game Age of Conan as a result of sexual frustration. When Leonard disagrees, saying it is only to raise her self esteem and has nothing to do with sex, Leslie replies, "Everything has to do with sex."
    • Not to mention Leonard's mother, who is supposedly a world-renowned psychologist but extrapolates from Howard's dependency on his mother and Raj's inability to talk to women that they're subconsciously homosexual. This is despite acknowledging that many of his theories are outdated.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data visits Freud on the holodeck when he starts having nightmares and trying to make sense of their meaning. (Data tries lots of different things in his quest for humanity, and this was just one quick stop. It's entirely possible he even visited other therapists offscreen, and this was a Small Reference Pools thing, which Star Trek is somewhat notorious for.) Of course, it doesn't work. Holodeck Freud immediately jumps to father issues, but Data notes that he never met his father. Nor does he have a mother. Part of his nightmares was an image of him cutting into the shoulder of a Troi-shaped cake (causing him to assault her in the real world unintentionally, attacking a parasite he was 'subconsciously' aware of). At the end of the episode, Troi reverses this and presents Data with a Data-shaped cake. Data starts to slice into it, then pauses, and wonders: "What what Freud about the symbolism of consuming one's self?" "Sometimes, Data, a cake is just a cake."
    • In the same episode Troi, after finding out about Data's Freudian analysis, tells Data to consult her in the future and not Freud.
  • Decidedly averted in Criminal Minds. While a lot of their cases revolve around sex and aggression that would have fascinated Freud, their methods are mainly cognitive/behavioral. In one scene Reid even states "Freud has been discredited but Jung still has his merits." in regards to the concept of accessing repressed memories through hypnosis.
  • Las Vegas averts this trope handily when a psychologist is evaluating the Montecito's employees. When he gets to Genius Ditz Belinda, she asks him what method of analysis he's going to use, then name-drops several methods before revealing she used to be a psych major.
  • Cleverly parodied/subverted on Not Going Out: at Kate's insistence, Lee reluctantly agrees to see a Californian therapist for one session. After answering her questions with his typical hurricane of witty quips and innuendos, she says she'd like to talk about his mother, leading to this exchange:

Lee: Oh, here we go.
Therapist: What?
Lee: This is all the mum-fancying stuff.
Therapist: I never suggested you fancied your mother.
Lee: What, you saying she's ugly?

  • Avoided by Tony's Series 2 episode of Skins, which is very much a study in Jung rather than Freud (it's all about Tony's quest to rediscover his anima, or something).
  • Averted in Raines. Raines brings up Freud at his first therapy session, but Kohl says that she's a Jungian.
  • In the drama Awake, Britten's therapists overwhelmingly spend their time applying dream analysis, which while fitting for the show, is not widely used in real life. To be fair while Dr. Lee tries to tell Britten why his mind "invented" each scenario, Dr. Evans focuses more on what his dreams say about his current emotions.


Theatre[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • A subversion of this is Xenogears, which is pretty famous for using Jungian psychology. Though it does use a good amount of Freudian psychology as well.
  • The Persona series also uses Jungian psychology heavily.
    • The name of the series and its core gameplay mechanic come from Jung.
    • Philemon, one of the most important entity in that universe (particularly the first two games) is derived from Jungian psychology.
    • Jungian shadows play important roles in the games, particularly in Persona 4, in which each party member (other than the protagonist) confronts theirs in the collective unconscious, another Jungian idea in order to obtain their Persona. Shadows also show up as every enemy in Persona 3 and Persona 4, save for a few bosses.
      • Lampshaded in Persona 3, as you can find books about psychology and psychoanalysis in your dorm.
    • The concept of Arcanas bear striking similarities to Jungian Archetypes.
    • The final boss of Persona 2: Innocent Sin consists of Nyarlathotep deciding to have some fun by taking the form of a tentacle monster made up out of all five of the characters' fathers. (Naturally, all five have some kind of father issue. Lisa for example has a strict Japanophile father, Eikichi is subtly rebelling from his dad, and Maya feels like her dad separated her from her friends. And don't even get me started on Jun...)
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines contains some Conversational Troping of this, when we visit the mansion of Dr. Alestair Grout, a Malkavian (read: "batshit insane") vampire, whose old audio diaries the player gets to hear, where Dr. Grout criticizes Freud and Freud's ideas. Not only was Grout a contemporary of Freud's during his living existence, but he apparently supported even older and more outdated ideas. (He at one points speaks with melancholy about the loss of the classical sanitarium.) Of course, Grout is insane and his primary motivation has always been curing his own condition.
  • Psychonauts uses the "collective unconscious" as a sort of world hub of sorts when travelling across the mindscape-it's mostly used to access minds you've already visited when you can't personally harass the person it belongs to and hit 'em with a psycho-portal again. Since I'm not all that familiar with psychology, though, I'm not sure how closely Double Fine's interpretation matches up with what Jung was talking about...
    • Not very. The Collective Unconscious is a (theoretical) similar arrangement of individual experiences, shared by all the members of a single species. Considering the ways he used it to analyze dreams, folklore, and literature...you're soaking in it.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • In Umlaut House 2, a giant aggregate id gains sentience (ego?), and has to be imparted with a superego to cease to be a threat.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Who can forget the Looney Tunes cartoon in which Bugs Bunny played psychiatrist to the Tasmanian Devil: "Tell me about your id when you was a kid."
  • A Pinky and The Brain Christmas: Pinky notes that the elf costume Brain's wearing makes him look like Sigmund Freud. Brain's reply is that he's Jungian. They meet the actual Freud, who is portrayed as a leader in hypnosis therapy. It still hits on a little of what Freud would apparently develop, but at least at the time it's state of the art techniques.
  • The Venture Bros: Done mostly straight when Doctor Orpheus goes inside Dr. Venture's mind. He encounters the Eros and Thanatos drives, which take the forms of Master Billy Quizboy and Pete White, and the id, ego, and superego, who all look like Dr. Venture.


Other[edit | hide]

  • Psycomedia: This podcast does its best to invert this, presenting real psychology and using Freud as a swear-word.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Many haredi (fanatically ultra-Orthodox) Jews to this day avoid psychotherapists and psychotherapies because they associate the entire field with Freud, an avowed atheist. Instead, they will consult a rabbi for counselling. Less commonly, for cases most of us would recognize as psychosis, haredim will call a rabbi who specializes in kabbalistic exorcism.
    • Many Christian denominations feel the same way so they have developed Christian Psychologists who are licensed but place their knowledge in a Biblical context, rather than a secular one.
  • Most of the field of psychology in Argentina is Freudian in nature. It is also the case in France too. More precisely, Jaques Lacan had a big influence in psychology there. Basically, he brought back Freud's work and modernized it (things are more complicated, through), so most of these psychologists would call themselves 'Freudian-Lacanian' instead of simply 'Freudian', so it's sort of a subversion. But while he is quite well-known there, chances are you never heard of him if you are from elsewhere.
  • Freud is important to the history of psychology so he often shows up in Psych 101 even if the teacher doesn't like him. (Especially in the history of psychology). Try to get through a unit in a psychology book without his name coming up.
  • In academia, his importance in the basic 101 of psychology (that people who don't go into psychology any further will only know), means that Freud is taken more seriously in the humanities and literature department than in the psychology department. The psychology applied in sociology, "gender studies" and other tangentially related fields can be biased towards basic Freud, whose denial of a genetic/uninfluenced impact on behavior fits the it's-society's-fault approach of most sociology teachers perfectly.
  • The criticism toward Freud will, paradoxically, create a die-hard core of believers in those few universities where Freud is still taken seriously. While almost every psychology education in Sweden will focus on giving a patient practical advice on how to cope with negative tendencies, the two colleges where Freudianism is still being taught foster an atmosphere of being under siege.
  • Harold Bloom (whose "Anxiety of Influence" theory of poetry owes a great debt to Freud) argues in The Western Canon that Freud is best read as a literary essayist and critic, particularly of Shakespeare.
  • Some psychologists today are neo-Freudians, taking a very liberal approach to his ideas and combining them with those of Lacan, D.W. Winnicott, Melanie Klein and even hard-scientific (cognitive and berhavioural) influences.