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Freud said that the Irish are impervious to psychoanalysis because they do not have the desire to dissect their brains.
In 1882, Sigmund Freud traveled to Ireland with his friend and colleague Wilhelm Fliess. Freud was impressed by the country and its people, but he also noted some curious contradictions that he found difficult to understand. In a letter to Fliess, Freud wrote: “The Irish…are impervious to psychoanalysis.”
It is not entirely clear what Freud meant by this statement, but it seems that he believed that the Irish do not have the same desire as other people to dissect their brains and understand their own mental processes. This may be due to the fact that the Irish are a collection of contradictions that are incomprehensible to rational thought processes. For example, the Irish are simultaneously passionate and reserved, spiritual and skeptical, traditional and rebellious.
These contradictions may make it difficult for the average person to understand their own Irish identity, let alone try to psychoanalysis themselves. However, it is also possible that Freud was simply wrong about the Irish and their receptiveness to psychoanalysis. After all, Freud was not himself Irish and may have underestimated the ability of the Irish people to think deeply about their own mental processes.
In any case, Freud’s statement about the Irish is an interesting example of his sometimes controversial views on different cultures. It is also a reminder that psychoanalysis is not always easy or straightforward, even for those who are supposedly “impervious” to it.