The Uncomfortable Couch of Dr. Freud
by Henry Bladon
The freezing air empties the streets, and trams are barely visible through the mist. Everybody is keen to see the psychiatrist, but Vienna in February is not a place to hang about. You come in through the big front door, turning in from the breeze. You walk the wide treads and up the staircase adorned with the ironwork banister and then pass into the consulting room. The warmth contrasts with the weather outside.
The walls are full of books and masks. You spot a silver-topped cane propped against a mahogany cabinet. A cigar box lies on the desk. You are asked to lie on the low couch. It has a blanket type throw over the head and an open side. You feel it might be picky to point out that it’s more of a chaise-longue, really. So you keep quiet. Whatever the case, it is not at all comfortable.
I want you to say whatever comes into your head, says Dr Freud.
While you are thinking about how to edit your words, he says things like Thanatos and Pleasure Principle, and Ego and ID. You don’t know what they all mean. He continues to talk of repressed impulses and dreams being the ‘Royal Road’ to the unconscious. He is, in fact, doing all the talking.
After a few moments, you crane your neck and sneak a look – not strictly permitted, the doctor would say – but there he is, staring out of the window at the grey Austrian sky. He’s now saying something weird about your parents and someone called Oedipus. You start thinking about your tram ride home. He continues to talk to the glass.
Just before you sneak out of the room, you start to wonder if the good doctor has once again been at the cocaine.
About the author:
Henry Bladon is based in Somerset in the UK. He is a writer of short fiction and poetry with a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Birmingham. He also has a psychology degree and works in mental health. He is the author of several poetry collections and his work can be seen in Poetica Review, Pure Slush, Truth Serum Press, Lunate, and O:JA&L, among other places.