Magazine article The New Yorker

How Do You Feel about That?

Magazine article The New Yorker

How Do You Feel about That?

Article excerpt

A man arrives in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria. He has been invited by the American Psychoanalytic Association to "Drinks with Shrinks," a party to "meet and mingle--with a number of APsaA's leading members," who are in the city for their annual winter meeting, a week of discussions such as "Making Freud More Freudian" and "Shame Dynamics." He notices that his feet make no sound on the carpet, as if he weren't there at all, as if someone else could easily be inserted into the space he is so tentatively occupying. A man and a woman, sharing a drink, seem to break off their conversation as he passes. He smiles and nods slightly, like an actor, and they simply stare at him, their faces like masks, he thinks, those tribal masks in the Metropolitan Museum that are always a little disturbing to visit, because they suggest ceremonies and superstitions that are passionate and dangerous. He has always taken care to keep such thoughts from his waking life.

The lobby is enormous and seems full of chambers and passageways. The unconscious must be like this, he thinks. Hallways you walk down with no one in them, and doors you wish you hadn't opened. The elevator leading to the suite where the party is under way is difficult to find. Beside it is a man with his back to him, and before his mind focusses he thinks it is his father, dead thirty years. When he rounds the man's shoulders, the impression dissolves and is replaced by the recollection of a disturbing dream in which he was chased by a snake shouting, "Sigmund Freud! Sigmund Freud!"

At the door to the suite, he is met by Dottie Jeffries, the director of public affairs for the association. Leading him gently toward a room of men and women, standing in twos and threes, Jeffries guides him to a woman seated on a green chintz couch with red, white, and yellow flowers, and he thinks, I'm so short. "The mind is never silent," the woman, Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, from Chicago, says. "Your mind has always got something going on in it." He has the irrational impulse to tell her that he has always felt as if a shadow lay across his path. He asks instead, "Is the economy hurting psychoanalysis?" Too much is made of fees, Dr. Gourguechon says. What's important is the frequency, four days a week. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.