A Freudian slip
, also called parapraxis
, is an error in speech, memory
In psychology, memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and recall information and experiences. Traditional studies of memory began in the fields of philosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing memory....
, or physical action that is interpreted as occurring due to the interference of some unconscious
The unconscious mind is a term coined by the 18th century German romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge...
("dynamically repressed"), subdued, wish, conflict, or train of thought. The concept is thus part of classical psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...
Slips of the tongue and the pen are the classical parapraxes, but psychoanalytic theory also embraces such phenomena as misreadings, mishearings, temporary forgettings, and the mislaying and losing of objects.
In general use, the term 'Freudian slip' has been debased to refer to any accidental slips of the tongue. Thus many examples are found in explanations and dictionaries which do not strictly fit the psychoanalytic definition.
For example: He: 'What would you like—bread and butter, or cake?' She: 'Bed and butter... Whoops!'
In the above, the woman may be presumed to have a sexual feeling or intention that she wished to leave unexpressed, not
a sexual feeling or intention that was dynamically repressed. Her sexual intention was therefore secret
, rather than unconscious
, and any 'parapraxis' would inhere in the idea that she unconsciously wished to express that intention
, rather than in the sexual connotation of the substitution.
The Freudian slip is named after Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...
, who in his 1901 book The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
The Psychopathology of Everyday Life is the eighth album by avant-garde band King Missile, and the band's second in its incarnation as "King Missile III." It was released on January 21, 2003...
, described and analyzed a large number of seemingly trivial, bizarre, or nonsensical errors and slips.
Freud never named an idea, discovery, or concept after himself, instead calling his therapies psychoanalysis. (Today, after countless revisions by those in the field, it is now called psychodynamic.) It is unknown who first coined the term "Freudian slip" and since has been used around the world in various pop-culture referencing and everyday living.
The process of analysis is often quite lengthy and complex, as was the case with many of the dreams in his book The Interpretation of Dreams
The Interpretation of Dreams is a book by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. The first edition begins:.The book introduces Freud's theory of the unconscious with respect to dream interpretation...
(1899). An obstacle that faces the non-German reader is that Freud's emphasis on 'slips of the tongue' leads to the inclusion of a great deal of material that is extremely resistant to translation.
As in the study of dreams, Freud submits his discussion with the intention of demonstrating the existence of unconscious mental processes in the healthy:
Freud, himself, referred to these slips as Fehlleistungen
(meaning "faulty actions", "faulty functions" or "misperformances" in German
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....
); the Greek term parapraxes
(plural of "parapraxis", from the Greek παρά [para
] and πρᾶξις [praxis
], meaning "another action" in English) was the creation of his English translator, as is the form "symptomatic action".
Popularisation of the term has resulted in its being applied to any slip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, often in an attempt by the user to humorously assign hidden motives or an air of sexual innuendo to the mistake. This has brought about a dilution of the original technical meaning, with the word "Freudian" being applied to interpretations and explanations that have no essential connection with genuine psychoanalytic thought.
Alternative explanations of "slips of the tongue"
In contrast to Freud and his followers, cognitive psychologists claim that linguistic slips can represent a sequencing conflict in grammar production. From this perspective, slips may be due to cognitive underspecification that can take a variety of forms – inattention, incomplete sense data or insufficient knowledge. Secondly, they may be due to the existence of some locally appropriate response pattern that is strongly primed by its prior usage, recent activation or emotional change or by the situation calling conditions.
Some sentences are just susceptible to the process of banalisation: the replacement of archaic or unusual expressions with forms that are in more common use. In other words, the errors were due to strong habit substitution.
See "Speech error
Speech errors, commonly referred to as slips of the tongue , are conscious or unconscious deviations from the apparently intended form of an utterance. They can be subdivided into spontaneously and inadvertently produced speech errors and intentionally produced word-plays or puns...
" article for more.
In science, cognition refers to mental processes. These processes include attention, remembering, producing and understanding language, solving problems, and making decisions. Cognition is studied in various disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science...
A lapsus is an involuntary mistake made while writing or speaking. According to Freud's early psychoanalytic theory, a lapsus represents a missed deed that hides an unconscious desire....
The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use and abuse of homophonic,...
A spoonerism is an error in speech or deliberate play on words in which corresponding consonants, vowels, or morphemes are switched . It is named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner , Warden of New College, Oxford, who was notoriously prone to this tendency...
A malapropism is an act of misusing or the habitual misuse of similar sounding words, especially with humorous results. An example is Yogi Berra's statement: "Texas has a lot of electrical votes," rather than "electoral votes".-Etymology:...
- Tip of the tongue
The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is the failure to retrieve a word from memory, combined with partial recall and the feeling that retrieval is imminent...