… and perhaps to the nation’s unaccountable love affair with Viennese Voodoo:
The couches have gone cold on the Upper West Side.
Lying down and talking to a psychoanalyst, a practice once as synonymous with New York City as the street-vendor hot dog, has fallen out of favor thanks to shifting fads, pharmaceuticals and the Internet, experts say.
Of the 3,109 members of the American Psychoanalytic Association, the largest group of its kind in the country, the average shrink age is 66 — up four years since 2003. And shrinks’ average number of active patients on the couch has fallen to 2.75, according to a study of US analysts. Many of those surveyed said they meet with no patients.
One of the greatest intellectual frauds of the 20th century — Freudian analysis — seems to be falling upon hard times, and not a moment too soon. A profession that pretty much defines “quackery” has separated millions of Americans from their time and their money… and for what?
It’s a far cry from the height of Freud mania — with its egos and ids, subconscious, Oedipal conflicts, Freudian slips and death wishes — in the 1950s and 1960s, when everyone and their mothers were in therapy. In those decades, therapists would see between eight and 10 patients a day, according to analysts interviewed.
Analysts now struggle with competition from all manners of self-actualization projects, from yoga/meditation retreats to “The Secret” and, of course, everyone’s nanny and distraction: the iPhone…
“We are living in an age of narcissism. We think we’re so unique, so special, we know it all, we take our selfies,” Upper West Side psychiatrist Sebastian Zimmermann says. “This is very different from the world Freud was dealing with.”
Just how badly did Americans — especially, of course, New Yorkers — fall for this load of pseudo-intellectual codswallop?
At one point in the 1960s, according to Jonathan Engel’s “American Therapy,” there were more analysts on 96th Street and Fifth Avenue than there were in Tennessee, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Delaware, Minnesota and Vermont combined.
But shrinks and their constant excuse-making for bad behavior (root causes!) did give us one unforgettable moment in American musical theater: