AI-generated image of Freud wearing a birthday hat and blowing candles off his birthday cake

📜 Sanity Classics: Why Freud is therapy's 'main course'

AI v Freud.

Tanmoy Goswami
What would you call it if today were Sigmund Freud's birthday (it really is), and I forgot to send out an edition of my newsletter that talks about mental health?

A Freudian slip.

Enjoy today's Sanity Classic, one of the most loved stories on this platform, where I argue why Freud's ancient wisdom will outlast the shiny new tech boom in mental health. Support my work and share it with three friends right away, or your therapist will hate you.

🆘 Help me crowdfund the cost of the ethical software that's the backbone of Sanity

Ghost, the software platform I use to publish Sanity, is expensive, and my subscription to it is about to renew soon. I chose Ghost because it's a nonprofit, won't ever sell out to greedy investors, and has strong values that align with our community's. But since I have no paywall and ain't selling your data to advertisers, I need your support to keep the lights on. Massive thanks to everyone who sent help last week, you know who you are.

I now have to raise another US$ 875 to cover the costs for this year. (You can see Ghost's pricing here; move the top slider to '5,000 members'.) Please click one of the buttons below to contribute whatever's possible. And if you're a free subscriber, do consider upgrading to paid. Every bit helps. Thanks.

Exactly six years ago, I walked into Anamika's clinic in a shopping complex in Noida for the first time. I was in a bad place. My ex-therapist, who had helped me through an acute crisis, had left for the US. I'd been cut off from therapy for six months and was in the middle of a harrowing relapse. Anamika came well-recommended, but I despaired at the thought of having to narrate my life story all over again to a new therapist.

Two things during our first meeting gave me hope. One, Anamika explained to me therapist-client confidentiality and its limits. And two, she walked me through the kind of therapy she specialised in. None of my earlier therapists had done either.

On October 22, 2018, I made an upbeat entry in my Twitter journal:

So, new therapist is making an impression. 1) Unlike previous therapists, she explained which school of therapy she practises ("psychoanalysis, classical Freudian") 2) seems a bit more structured than earlier therapists without giving the appearance of it.

However, beyond being impressed by Anamika's professionalism, I didn't attach any special meaning to her trade – 'classical Freudian psychoanalyst'. My goal was to somehow find a way to survive, I didn't care how. Neither did I know that through that one disclosure, my new therapist was both declaring her loyalties and drawing me into the battle for the soul of her profession:

'Ancient' psychoanalysis v 'modern' cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).

Much ado over Freud

At the time I started seeing Anamika, I had only a fuzzy understanding of the various kinds of psychotherapy and the discipline's contested history.

In the four years since, as my sessions with Anamika repeatedly pulled me back from the brink and helped me learn that many of my issues stemmed from my 'internalised parents', I delved deep into that contest and its fascinating plot twists, and why it matters to every therapy user.

This post is for subscribers only

Already have an account? Log in