Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) earned the reputation as the father of modern psychiatry. The following is a verbatim transcript of a session Dr. Freud conducted with a male patient with a unique problem.
Freud: Are you comfortable?
Patient: I make a good living.
Freud: That’s a very old joke.
Patient: Just an ice breaker. I’m very nervous.
Freud: What are you nervous about?
Patient: My wife says I have a big problem.
Freud: What does she say?
Patient: She says I’m obsessed with coffee, that I love coffee more than her.
Freud: Do you?
Patient: No. But I do love coffee.
Freud: Nothing wrong with that.
Patient: Exactly. You drink coffee, don’t you, Doctor?
Freud: I do.
Patient: I should invite you over some time. I have closets full.
Freud: (Writing in his notepad) I see.
Patient: Do you think I’m obsessive compulsive?
Freud: Do you think you’re obsessive compulsive?
Patient: Is that necessarily a bad thing?
Freud: What do you think?
Patient: No. I get great satisfaction from coffee.
Freud: When do think this interest in coffee began?
Patient: I’m trying to think back. Probably in high school. My mother made coffee in the morning but she didn’t want me to drink it. So I would wait until she left the room and sneak a sip from her cup before my dad came in. And then I started sneaking more than a sip. And eventually a whole gulp. That’s when I would have to take the coffee pot and pour it back in so she wouldn’t notice.
Freud: How did that make you feel?
Patient: Like I was a thief. But I couldn’t stop. And once my Dad came in and caught me in the act. I begged him not to tell my mother, but he did anyway. I was so mad at him I could have killed him. I loved my mother and I didn’t want to feel shamed.
Freud: So you wanted to kill your father to keep your mother’s affection. (Writing in note pad) Classic Oedipus Complex.
Patient: Then in college I met my first girlfriend, Phoebe Ledbetter, who was a big coffee drinker. She’s the one who really got me started on daily consumption. Breakfasts turned into breakfasts and dinners, and then breakfast, lunch and dinner. We both couldn’t stop.
Freud: Hmm. Co-dependency.
Patient: Phoebe and I broke up when she started needing more than just coffee. She started adding cream and sugar.
Freud: How did that make you feel?
Patient: That was just too much for me. But I graduated with honors because I was a great study with all that caffeine, so I do have a lot to thank her for.
Freud: What about other relationships?
Patient: Before I got married I had a dog.
Freud: What kind?
Patient: She was a mixed breed.
Freud: What was her name?
Freud: Let’s concentrate on your marriage.
Patient: Yes, I came to you because my marriage. You gotta help me, doc. My love of coffee is interfering with my marriage.
Freud: Does your wife drink coffee?
Patient: Yes, she does. She drinks a half a cup of Cafe Americano with soy creamer in the morning and puts the cup in the fridge and then drinks the other half after dinner with something sweet, usually cookies.
Patient: And there’s nothing wrong with that, for her. For me it’s like torture! Half a cup of coffee only would put me into withdrawal. I’d get sweats and headaches, twitching and insomnia. I don’t know how she does it.
Freud: Do you want to change? Or do you want her to change?
Freud: (looking at wristwatch) I’m sorry, but our time is up for today. We’ll continue this next time.
Patient: Do we have to meet here, Dr. Freud? Could we meet at a coffee shop?
Freud: That would be a no. Get out.