Attempt at a mistake {1935}

Robert Ladislas Derr

There are no slips of the tongue according to Sigmund Freud in his 1935 essay, The Subtleties of a Faulty Action. A slip of the tongue, or to use Freud’s term, a parapraxis, reveals some repressed motive. With chalk held by my lips, rather than my fingers, I write out that sentence that discovered parapraxis. In favor of my mouth, over my hands, I perform a slip of communication, or a slip of the tongue, writing Freud's sentence. Freud wrote the following as he prepared a birthday gift of a gem to be inserted into a ring for a woman friend, “Bon für einen Goldring bei Uhrmacher L. anzufertigen bis für beigelegten Stein, der ein Schiff mit Segel und Rudern zeigt.” Translated from German to English, the sentence reads, "For a gold ring with watchmaker L. to for the enclosed stone bearing a ship with sail and oars." In the course of writing this sentence, Freud mistakenly used the word “bis”, that also has a Latin meaning of twice, and then crossed it out. According to Freud, this “slip of the pen” may have been an unconscious inclusion because of the grammatical sloppiness of using the word für twice in the sentence. But then, after speaking with his daughter, Freud found that his use of "bis" was not because of using the same word twice in a sentence, but because he had given this same gift to this woman before. He discovered that his repressed motive was not merely poor grammar, but rather, the indecorum of giving the same gift twice. Freud was particularly fond of this gem, and after his discovery, was able to keep it.
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