Keep it Under Your Hat

Freud's father told him of a time when a man knocked his hat into the road and told him to get off the pavement. "What did you do?" asked Freud. "I walked into the road and picked up my hat," replied his father.

Freud talks about this pivotal incident with his father’s hat in Interpretation of Dreams and perceives his father’s reaction as unheroic. This story may contain the moment in which Freud lost his idealization of his own father and substituted a new ego ideal.

The knocking off of the hat story was a prologue to the “Jewish Question” in pre-war Vienna. Jews who wanted to be accepted in Viennese high culture kept their yarmulkes, a reminder of G-d’s presence, under their hat. This subjugation of Jewish identity has created patterns that are repetitive in our lives and are passed from generation to generation. The passivity of his father’s response would foreshadow Freud’s own actions during the war in picking up his belongings and fleeing Vienna. Given Jewish history, one has to wonder why Jews haven’t lost their idealization of G-d, as Freud lost his idealization of the father figure.

(Click picture to enlarge)

Keep it Under Your Hat
© Beth Grossman and Robin Leiter 2006
43” x 24”
Mixed media on wood panel