Unhappy dick heads exhibiting passive-aggressive behaviour: a cyclist’s view of motorists

cycling“Bloody dick head”

Actually it sounded more like “Bludy deek hed” spat out from a scowling face hanging out the side of a white Camry as it hurtled past me.

The man, in a rage, was yelling at me and speeding up at the same time, admonishing me for cycling across the street in front of him, while at the same time trying his best to run me down.

In my opinion I’d judged things perfectly; I am not by any stretch of the imagination a reckless cyclist (unless being slow is considered dangerous), but the crazy, googly-eyed man in the white Camry decided I was and let me know it, shaking his fist like King Kong.

Only three time since June last year (when I began cycling again) have I nearly been run over, the other two times by motorists who didn’t see me as I sped down a hill in the dark.

This  was despite having two flashing lights attached to the front of my bike. In the one instant, having nearly driven into me, rather than apologize, the young bloke in a red Mazda started hurling insults my way: “Bloody dick head,” I yelled back, or words to that effect.

The other time, the young lady driver drove away sheepishly after I’d slammed on the breaks in the middle of the road, a hand raised meekly in front of her face, before speeding off.

But these near calamities have been rarities and I am thankful that most motorists are overly cautious around me, some to the point of driving on the wrong side of the road and straight towards oncoming traffic.

My general experience of cycling on a daily basis since June last year has been uneventful.

I’ve not yet encountered any psycho motorists who have deliberately tried to run me off the road, or over.  The most dangerous drivers appear to be the elderly, whose chief problem is seeing above the steering wheel or judging the width of the road or their car.

But riding on two wheels, propelled forward by your own sweat and toil while cars zoom past does give one an unusual perspective on those on four wheels.

If I can blunt: motorists are not a happy bunch, at least they don’t look happy when driving.

angry-motorist-wants-angry-joggerThey sit hunched over their steering wheels, they snarl and they grimace. There is a zealous, craven look in their eyes.

If Freud had ridden a bicycle, he might have gained great insights into the  passive-aggressive personality type.

It seems to defy common sense that motorists deliberately ram the bottom of their cars over speed humps, rather than slowdown.

And while they for the most part, avoid hitting me, I’ve noticed another passive-aggressive tendency: speeding up extravagantly when passing me and then looking back at me through the rear view mirror to perhaps check that a) I am still upright and b) to remind me (with a nod to George Orwell) that, four wheels are always better than two.

Of course, I probably look peculiar to motorists, a heavily bearded man in an ill-fitting helmet and business clothes peddling a noisy bike up a hill, occasionally cursing the pensioner flying past.

A little while ago, an elderly lady passed me while cycling up a hill appearing to whistle and hardly trying at all. I was infuriated and vowed to pass her.

As she disappeared further and further into the distant: a bobbing grey-haired speck in high vis yellow, I furiously pedaled cranking my way through the gears until my thighs threatened to seize up and my chest burned. She was probably sipping a cup of tea by the time I pushed my bike through gate red-faced.

And I can only wonder what another older woman hidden behind a rose-bush in her immaculate garden thought when I decided on afternoon on my way home that it was safe to raise my butt cheeks triumphantly off the saddle and  expel and noisy, violent fart.

Wearing gloves and holding a pair of pruning scissors, her head appeared from behind the tree, while her nose twitched the freshly scented air.

“Bloody dick head” perhaps she muttered under her breath.

Book review: The little Welshman who made Sigmund Freud a giant

freuds wizard“Freud’s Wizard” by Brenda Maddox is a biography tracing the life of one Ernest Jones, a Welsh doctor and psychologist who almost single-handedly promoting Sigmund Freud’s ideas of psychoanalysis to Britain and the world.

He also orchestrated the rescuing of Freud, his family and many other prominent Jewish Viennese psychoanalysts when Hitler invaded Austria in 1938. Jones secured the difficult-to-get visas and flew into Nazi-occupied Austria to bring Freud to London.

Maddox’s book could easily have been subtitled: “The man who made Sigmund Freud”.

And given the Jones was a short Welshman and Freud a behemoth of modern psychology, it might have been more elaborately sub-titled: “The little Welshman who made Sigmund Freud a giant”.

Ernest Jones was Freud’s champion and close confidant for 30 years and wrote what is considered the definitive (three-volume) biography of the father of psychoanalysis – ‘The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud’ – considered to be among the greatest biographies ever written.

Maddox, an anglophile American resident in the UK, who has written a number of noted biographies (including those about DH Lawrence, WB Yeats and Rosalind Franklin) has certainly picked an interesting and influential figure to write about in Ernest Jones, one of those figures in history who stand in the shadows of greatness, but were great in their own right.

The book begins with Jones’s birth in a small town a few miles from Swansea in Wales and follows his progress through school, medical school and the start of a very chequered medical career in London and then Toronto, before meeting Freud in 1906 and beginning his life’s work.

I have read some of the reviews of “Freud’s Wizard” which remark that Jones comes across as not a very likeable man – he was controlling, manipulative and devious, someone who tells his own son that he has a “hell of a superego”.

However, these character flaws pale into insignificance compared with disturbing accusations made against Jones alleging indecent behaviour against children while he was a young doctor in London (similar accusations were made later in his career).

Jones was found not guilty, but his innocence – as explained by Maddox – may have more to do with the epoch in which the incident allegedly occurred – that children were considered “mentally unreliable” while there also did not yet exist the technology to test DNA, which may have been conclusive in proving Jones’s guilt or innocence.

Maddox does not overlook this behaviour – she finds it perplexing and disturbing – nor does she overlook Jones’s infidelities or his womanising, but she clearly admires Jones too much to let them get in the way of portraying him as a hero of Freud and of psychoanalysis, which undoubtedly he was.

freud460

Taken in 1909: Sigmund Freud front left next to Carl Jung (on his right) with Ernest Jones in the middle of the back row.

The axis of the book is Ernest Jones’s relationship with Freud and his efforts to establish psychoanalysis as a recognised medical treatment rather than a quack, devious treatment with its emphasis on unconscious sexual motives (the Oedipus Complex) and other controversial theories such as penis envy.

The book catalogues the different psychoanalytic societies and journals that Jones founded, his insatiable appetite for writing essays on different psychoanalytic themes (he even wrote a book on figure-skating) and his tireless devotion to the cause of psychoanalysis.

While he fails as a doctor – no London hospital will take him on after his record is blackened – but he ultimately thrives as a psychoanalyst, liasing with all the great psychoanalytic minds (apart from Freud) as well as the famous Bloomsbury Group, a collection of English writers, some of whom helped translate Freud’s ideas into English.

The book also chronicles Jones very important role in keeping the American psychoanalytic movement onside when it threatened to split from the Freudians – Americans believed only medical doctors should be allowed to practice psychoanalysis while British and European psychoanalytic societies believed non-medically trained people could become practitioners provided they were properly trained and underwent psychoanalysis themselves.

The passion of Ernest Jones in this endeavour and others is probably one of the key reasons why so many Americans (especially in places like New York ) undergo psychoanalysis today.

And consider this, without Ernst Jones there might never have been neurotic, anxiety-written comics like Woody Allen and his many jokes and references to psychoanalysis.

As Allen’s character Alvy Singer remarks in “Annie Hall”:

“I was depressed…I would have killed myself but I was in analysis with a strict Freudian and if you kill yourself … they make you pay for the sessions you miss.”

Ernest Jones, who considered himself something of an honorary jew given his close friendship with Freud and other Jewish pyschoanalysts (cemented by his marriage to Kitty Jokl, a jewess) and fond of using yiddish words, would no doubt have found this joke amusing.

Ironically, it was Ernest Jones’s non-Jewishness which helped give Freud’s theories legitimacy in an age when anti-semitism was rife.