SPOTLIGHT: Freud’s Haberdashery Habit (2nd edition) by Mike Fiorito

Freud’s Haberdashery Habit

In the spring of 1909, Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud were sitting in Freud’s study, discussing Freud’s recent lecture on cases of hysteria over cherry kirsch pudding and Viennese coffee. The two had not seen each other for nearly two years. Even though Freud had earlier anointed Jung as his heir and successor to the psychoanalytic movement which Freud had, of course, founded, Freud remained insistent that psychoanalysis develop along scripted lines. Although Freud claimed that Jung expressed his theories better than anyone, he also began to realize Jung’s potential to challenge his dominance.

“Carl,” began Freud, visibly disturbed by Jung’s questioning, “you must understand these hysterics that I am speaking of have experienced a significant trauma, which has forever jolted their development.” He paused, trying to lighten the conversation, and then asked, “By the way, how do you find the Viennese kirsch pudding, eh? A little too tart for your Swiss palate?”

Freud offered a fraudulent smile to defuse his combative apprentice. He felt exhausted at having to defend his position to his younger colleague. After all, he thought, isn’t my admiration of him enough? Why can’t he just accept the program I have outlined and execute it accordingly?

Ignoring the question about the pudding, Jung said, “Don’t you see Sigmund, once they find out what turns you on—I mean, what interests you, they invent their stories. You make them fit into your dogmas.” Jung adjusted his position in his chair; with his growing success, his appetite had been likewise growing.

Leaning back to light his cigar, Freud gazed cautiously at his bumptious young associate.

Freud’s face was gaunt, his white beard sprinkled with gray hairs. Though still considered a renegade figure, Freud had achieved status as an intellectual. In his mind, an intellectual had to look the part. Hence, he sported the latest Italian suits and Parisian glasses.

“This is not dogma, Carl. I am merely following the guidelines that I have laid out—guidelines, mind you, that have produced incredible results and have knocked all of Europe off its feet,” snapped Freud.

Jung stared at a bookshelf as they continued to spar.

Thinking that this was perhaps an unconscious effort to undermine his paternal authority, Freud said, “What the hell are you doing, Carl?”

Jung tugged on the rim of his pants, pulling them above his belly line, and slowly whispered, “Sigmund, don’t move. Did you see that the bookcase has moved one inch?”

Freud followed Jung’s head gestures, looked at the bookcase, and said that he noted nothing unusual.

Suddenly there was a loud crash, as if the bookcase had lifted off the ground and come crashing down.

“See? The bookcase moved!” repeated Jung.

“Nothing moved. I don’t know what you’re talking about,” replied Freud, dreading one of Jung’s hocus-pocus lectures on parapsychology.

“Sigmund, you must open your mind to the prospect of psychic phenomena. You are a doctor of the mind for God’s sake,” said Jung, now suspiciously staring at the bookcase, his eyes darting back and forth. “I suspect there may be a medium engaged in a séance or in the act of astral protection in an adjacent apartment, or even a few blocks away.”

His concerned look gave Freud the creeps. Although Freud vehemently denied the existence of ghosts, other dimensions, and psychokinesis, talking about them scared the hell out of him.

“Look, it moved again,” shouted Jung suddenly, nearly giving Freud a heart attack.

After regaining his composure, Freud reluctantly turned his gaze toward the bookcase. He considered the possibility that it might indeed have moved but refused to admit that to Jung. This would only indulge his young associate and possibly give him the upper hand, thought Freud.

To put an end to the ridiculous conversation about the bookcase, and to lighten the mood, Freud suggested that he and Jung join their wives in the living room. The men stood up. Jung towered over Freud’s rail-thin body. Though both dressed in European intellectual style, Freud was more fashionable. Jung’s suit, now growing tight in the midsection, was of a more subdued brown color. His round glasses, likewise, were grandfatherly.

As they walked to the living room where their wives sat drinking tea, Jung considered asking Freud about his haberdasher, as his old suits were distinctly out of style. Now that I am cutting down on the sweet cakes, thought Jung, I need to upgrade my clothes to match my burgeoning status.

A year later, Freud and Jung traveled together to America to host a psychoanalysis convention. Their increasing collaborations had only succeeded in increasing the tensions between the two.

Unable to avoid each other’s competitiveness, they decided to analyze each other’s dreams the night before the convention. Before they began, Freud escaped to the bathroom.

As he waited for Freud, Jung asked his Ouija Board questions about who built the pyramids. Freud locked the bathroom door and surreptitiously snorted lines of cocaine.

After thirty minutes, Jung knocked on the bathroom door, shouting “Sigmund, when are you going to finish up in there? It’s late and we don’t have much time for our dream interpretations.”

“I’ll be right out,” answered Freud, greedily rubbing cocaine powder on his teeth, then stuffing a pinch of it into one of his cigars.

When Freud emerged from the bathroom, Jung noticed powder under his nose.

“Sigmund, where did you get those sweet cakes?” asked Jung.

“Sweet cakes? What do you mean?”

“Come on, Sigmund. Now don’t hide it from me, you devil,” said Jung smiling. His stomach began to bubble from the mere thought of a sugared cake, or a tart sprinkled with powdered sugar. Since abstaining from sweets, his hankering had become obsessive.

Confused and somewhat nervous, Freud thought that perhaps Jung saw him doing the cocaine and was toying with him. He ran to the mirror, noticing the powder on his nose.

“Oh, that cake. Yes. I had a bit of the leftover breakfast cake, Carl. I must have forgotten to wipe it off.” I’m glad he’s such a country bumpkin, thought Freud.

Rubbing I-Ching coins between his fingers, Jung described a recent dream that he felt perfectly illustrated the archetypal theories that he had been proposing in recent publications. In his dream, he said, an old man looking like a very well-dressed Santa Claus was carrying a large sack with gifts and demanding that he accept a gift.

“Although I was expecting a toy, maybe a red train,” said Jung, dropping the I-Ching coins from one hand to another, “the old Santa insisted that I take a rolled up yellowed papyrus, declaring that it was the Dead Sea Scrolls.” An arrogant smile broke across Jung’s face; his thick lips pressed together smugly.

Freud, however, ascertained that this dream fit very neatly into his Oedipal theory.

“Carl, Carl, Carl,” he began, running his tongue across his teeth to lock in the numbing cocaine sensation, “you do realize that I am the Santa Claus in your dream: white beard, older man, bearing gifts of secret knowledge, gifts which in fact you refuse.” He stopped, lighting a cigar, smiling triumphantly.

“Clearly, you see me as your father and you long to kill me to free yourself of my intellectual authority,” said Freud, clinging to his Oedipal theory no matter how hard he had to reach.

Jung belligerently shot back, “That’s rubbish. There you go again Sigmund, trying to put everything into your cookie-cutter notions.” Like a boxer ready to pounce on his opponent, Jung snapped, “Let’s hear one of your dreams!”

Having concocted a dream to establish his theoretical superiority, Freud began, “There is a young boy in a field. He is calling out to a raven for wisdom. The raven is a figment of the boy’s imagination, yet the boy believes the raven to possess magical powers. The boy then removes his clothes believing he can fly on the raven’s back. However, the raven suddenly transforms into a dog and cannot lift off the ground.”

Freud blew out a plume of smoke from his mouth, thinking how wonderfully his dream described Jung and his silly parapsychology fanaticism.

Wearing a new white suit, purchased at a fashionable Italian haberdasher in Zurich, Jung began pacing the room. Freud fixated on the opal ring on Jung’s finger, another example, he thought, of Jung’s misbegotten cockamamie “alchemical” fantasies.

“It is quite clear,” began Jung, “that you are the little boy who wants to be free to explore his anima, his spirituality, if you will, though you are weighed down by your dogma which is symbolized by the dog.” Not looking at Freud, Jung sat down on the hotel bed and laid out his deck of Tarot cards.

Fuming, Freud said that Jung had entirely overstepped his boundaries. He demanded an apology, but Jung was unyielding.

Freud stormed out of the hotel room and plunked himself downstairs at the hotel bar. While at the bar, he made frequent trips to the bathroom to sniff cocaine, even eating clumps of it like candy.

The next day, after the conference, Jung and Freud were joined by another psychoanalytical associate, Paul Eugen Bleuler. They had all decided to have drinks at the hotel bar. Freud didn’t let on that he was slightly embarrassed by Bleuler’s unkempt look—a nondescript suit that was torn and ill fitting. Freud found himself looking at the dandruff on Bleuler’s collar with contempt. Doesn’t he know how to maintain his coiffeur, thought Freud? And, to top it off, Bleuler wears those ungodly old-fashioned glasses.

While Bleuler and Freud ordered whiskey and chasers, Jung preferred to drink ginger ale. Jung had been maintaining a strict diet, avoiding alcohol and sweets.

Perhaps because Freud had passed him up as his successor, Bleuler, a longtime devotee, didn’t get along well with Jung.

“Carl, what’s the matter, old boy, can’t let your hair down when you’re out with the boys?” asked Bleuler, winking at Freud as they quickly downed their shots of whiskey.

“Bartender,” said Freud, “two more whiskeys, and a warm milk for the Swiss gentleman over here,” pointing at Jung.

Annoyed at the maltreatment from his colleagues, Jung took a draught from his ginger ale and excused himself.

When Freud returned to the room late that evening, stumbling from the admixture of cocaine and alcohol, he found Jung sitting in a glow of candlelight and chanting in Norse.

Neither of them slept well that night.

On their way back to Europe, Jung and Freud made a scheduled stop in Bremen for another conference, though they decided this time to get separate hotel rooms.

Jung told Freud that he was curious about visiting a few archeological discoveries near Bremen, and they agreed to go together after changing.

Freud knocked on Jung’s hotel door. “Come in, I’ll be out in a few minutes,” said Jung. In Jung’s room Freud opened dresser drawers, looking under Jung’s piles of underwear and socks. Freud thought for sure that Jung maintained a voodoo doll likeness of him which he poked and prodded with pins. Freud called out to Jung, who was shaving in the bathroom, “So what is of such interest to you that we must go see it this morning before the conference?” For a moment, he thought he’d discovered a voodoo doll, but it turned out to be a wooden Aztec totem Jung had purchased in New Mexico.

“Ridiculous,” whispered Freud.

Shouting from the bathroom, Jung said that he was interested in making two visits while in Bremen. “I read, Sigmund, that there is a museum containing the remains of long dead Moors. You see, though their bodies have dissolved, their skins remain intact. It’s a marvelous curiosity to me.”

Trimming his mustache, Jung paused and said, “Did you hear me Sigmund?”

Caught off guard by the sudden roar of Jung’s voice from the bathroom, Freud quickly pocketed a roll of deutsche marks he found stuffed inside one of Jung’s socks. I’ll need this to replenish my cocaine supply in Bremen, he thought. When he finally comprehended, however, what Jung had said, Freud rushed to the corridor leading to the bathroom.

“What is this that you want to do, Carl? Did I hear you say something about looking at the dug-up bones of bores?”

“Not bores, Sigmund, Moors. Isn’t it exciting? I’m curious about everything, Sigmund. It’s one of my faults, I suppose.”

Jung admired his new suit in the mirror, noticing that he had dropped a few pounds. Smacking his cheeks with cologne, Jung emerged from the bathroom. He imagined that he would cut quite a figure at the convention today in his fine clothes.

“I’d also like to visit the Cathedral of St. Peter here in Bremen,” continued Jung. You know, they’ve discovered a vault locked for hundreds of years that contains the preserved bodies of Teutonic Knights.”

Suddenly, Freud fell on the carpet, mumbling and flailing his arms.

“Sigmund, what is it?”

“You are trying to kill me, aren’t you?”

“What do you mean? You’re my friend and associate.”

“You are in the throes of an Oedipal complex, Carl. Therefore, you want to visit bodies of corpses. It’s an unconscious wish to see me dead.”

“Of course not, Sigmund. I’m merely curious about the world beyond psychoanalysis,” said Jung. He looked sad, wondering what kind of madness had overtaken his friend.

Before Freud’s turn to address the conference later that night, he hurriedly tossed down a few shots of whiskey and snorted cocaine in the restroom to take the edge off. When Freud emerged from the stall in the bathroom, he found Jung fixing his suit, picking the lint off and brushing it smooth.

He’s trying to hex me, thought Freud. All this talk of dead bodies and magic.

While presenting his lecture on “Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious,” Freud fainted at the podium. When Freud awoke in Jung’s arms, he said, “How sweet it must be to die, my son.” Jung pressed a cold compress on Freud’s forehead, urging him to be silent and relax.

“Brilliant, my son, brilliant,” said Freud. “First you try to kill me privately, and then you try to save me publicly. Brilliant.”

Trying not to melt from the looks of his colleagues, Jung hushed Freud, cradling him in his arms like a loving son. I just hope he doesn’t throw up on my new suit, thought Jung.


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