The Irish Psyche And Sigmund Freud

The Irish psyche is a deep topic for a blog post on the day after St. Patrick’s Day, when many facets of said psyche were on display all over the world.  As I did a little research for this post I came across a quotation attributed to the father of psychoanalysis himself, Sigmund Freud.

In the movie The Departed, Matt Damon’s character claims that Freud said:

 

“This is one race of people for whom

psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.”

– Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

 

Some claim this Freudian quotation was derived from a phrase by one of his followers.  This student of Freud claimed that the Irish, when in psychic trouble go to poetry, go to storytelling, or to escapism.  He believed the Irish have no interest in picking apart their own brains.

Freud is also claimed to have stated that the Irish are a mass of contradictions and impervious to the rational thought processes that might resolve them.

And finally another follower of Freud supposedly said the Austrian doctor categorized people as “Irish and non-Irish.”

Whether or not Freud actually said these words, we may never know.  However  it seems clear that the Irish psyche was at some point a topic of conversation for this famous psychiatrist and his students.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdrummbks/4632835980/in/photostream/Image Credit

The real question for me is why Freudians were so intrigued by the Irish psyche?

 

What characteristics of the Irish people led them to these conclusions? 

 

What exactly did Freud mean?

 

Was it said as an insult, a compliment or neither?

 

My proud Irish side wants to answer by saying we are too fine tuned to benefit from inward thinking, or perhaps we are just too complex for analysis.

But then there is my down-to-earth, practical Irish side that realizes we don’t do psycho anything very well.  We hate to share our emotions, we are ridden with guilt, and believe life’s fleeting fortunes are precursors to inevitable doom and gloom.

Let’s face it, no psychoanalyst is getting inside my Irish head – there’s barely enough room for my thoughts in here.

Irish people are stubbornly polite.  Saying what we think is difficult at times, but then in complete contrast there are times when we can’t stop talking and saying exactly what we think.  We are a mass of contradictions.

Words that come to mind to describe our nature are stubborn, humble,  explosive, friendly, bad-tempered, humorous, hardassed and artistic.  See what I mean?  A mass of contradictions.

And so this got me thinking about all the factors which helped form our elusive Irish psyche over the centuries.

 

Is their something about our Irishness begging to be explored?

 

Is there a story of Irish psychological development crying out to be told?

 

What is it about the Irish and our personality that makes us different and possibly unique?

 

Why did so many Irish succeed in America?

 

Do we really put the FUN in DYSFUNCTIONAL?

 

Can Irish proverbs help us better understand our collective psyche?

 

And so I decided why not create a section on my blog dedicated to discussing the Irish psyche.

But am I qualified to talk about this topic authoritatively?  Not in the least. Pychoanalysis is definitely not my realm of expertise. My degrees are in physical health and well being. But why let that stop me.  I’m going to take on the topic of the Irish psyche in true narcissistic, Freudian fashion.

I may not hold any psychology credentials but I have been educated in the school of life on both sides of the Atlantic, helping me to develop my own opinion of the Irish psyche.  I may not be able to personally answer all of these questions, but I can moderate a good discussion, and together who knows what insights and stories we may discover.

So stay tuned for more interesting posts on the Irish psyche.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

Comments

  1. I’ll look forward to this series of posts. I always enjoy reading your stories and your unique way of looking at things and exploring our Irishness.

    • Thanks so much Sheila. I hope you’ll join in the discussion as we delve into the Irish Psyche.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

      • I don’t think you did much research and have to assume you did not see “The Departed.” In the film, Matt Damon’s character asks his date, a psychiatrist, if she knows what Freud said about the Irish. He then states “We are the only people who are impervious to psychoanalysis.” The screenplay writer said he paraphrased a quote attributed to Freud, which is the one you erroneously attributed to Damon’s character in the film.

        • Liz – Thanks so much for clarifying this. My wording and layout are not very clear in this post. The quote I highlighted is the one attributed to Freud, not meant to be a direct quotation from the movie. I’m so glad you were able to add the exact words spoken by Matt Damon’s character in the movie.
          All the best,
          Mairéad

          • How did you answer her so politely?

            • I read this comment differently to how you may have read it, and took it as a misunderstanding of the quotations I used. I genuinely appreciate all readers’ input into our discussions on the infamous Irish psyche, once they show respect to other readers.
              Take care, and thanks for checking out this post.
              Mairéad

    • Freud never said this , if you find it actually quoted by Freud I owe you a black & tan ! I personally believe we are impervious to psychoanalysis we are a strong race of people I’ve been blessed with Viking blood mixed with my Irish blood now let’s talk impervious !

      • Doc – Freud probably never said these exact words. Ever since he was attributed with the line in “The Departed”, it has become a topic of interest for many, whether fact or fiction. No matter who first started the discussion about the Irish being impervious to psychoanalysis, there is some truth in this idea. As you so aptly point out we are a strong race of people. We Irish deal with life in our own unique way. Thanks for stopping by and adding to our discussion.
        All the best,
        Mairead

  2. This is a fascinating subject! My husband said I am exactly like my Mom, Worry that there is nothing to worry about! Will be looking forward to your ideas.
    Thank you so much for answering my email…now I see where to follow you… I really enjoy your site.

    • Thanks so much for following Pat. Funny – my husband also tells me I am getting more like my Mom as I get older. As we say in Ireland “an ounce of breeding is worth a tonne of feeding.” Have a wonderful week.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

  3. There are so many typical Irish traits perfect for discussion. From our love of a good chat, to not getting too big for our boots, we all have learned these Irish ways from our elders. I’ll watch out for your posts.

  4. Hi Mairead, Hmm couldn’t have anything to do with the history of Ireland, farmers, sailors, and nomads who at different times had to deal with Vikings, Normans, British, but surviving it all to fight another day. You would know better than I.
    Cheers,
    Brian.

    • Brian – That sums it up beautifully. Surviving it all is what made us what we are today. Hope you had a lovely St. Patrick’s Day.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

      • anne nolan says:

        Well done Mairead.Frank Mc Court sums it up pretty much for me ‘So much going on in my head’ more professionally termed ‘Flight of ideas’.Have often thought if we could delete the useless information & download more into another file look at the space we could create.Loved the quotes esp Yeates .I will add an Oscar Wilde ‘Learning to love yourself is the start of a life long romance’

        Love Anne

        • Dear Anne – That is a great quote from Oscar Wilde. I like how Frank McCourt sums it up too. I think we will have many more posts to really get into the nuances of the Irish psyche. Thanks so much for checking this one and adding to the discussion.
          Best wishes,
          Mairéad

  5. Ha! That could really explain some things. Contradictions? That doesn’t even begin to explain it. Shop around. You may or may not enjoy my Irish madness
    http://eatgrueldog.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/lost-irish-soul/

    • Jay -Thanks for stopping by. An intertwined mass of contradictions and deep convictions – the Irish spirit or madness or whatever it is may be beyond our explanation, but I can see that we are both going to do our best to try to explain it. I checked out your beautiful, open verse poem – “Lost Irish Soul”. Thanks for sharing this link. You captured the spirit of your friend in eloquent, memorable words – a truly heart-warming and touching piece.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

  6. When and who Freud was dealing with would prevent the Irish from being a patient. The angst in Vienna in the years from 1850 to 1950 was based around the emerging middle class and the only Irish he would’ve encountered would have been Jesuits, Bishops and the like. Extremely wealthy Papal knights and the remnants of the wild geese who fit rather well into the aristocratic life of the Austro-Hungarian polity. In other words the very class that would never have gone near Freud.

    • So true Vince. He may also have formed some of his opinions of the Irish during his time spent in London, being influenced by a less than favorable attitude towards the Irish by those around him. Conjecture on my part, I know, but could well have been the case.
      Thanks again for adding to our discussion.
      Mairéad

      • Hmm, perhaps. But that tosses up a new one. Which cohort of Irish was he on about.
        At the lower, East End irish and jews were allies. And at the top, like in NYC, the money men were allies too. But again it’s doubtful if in either camp would they be telling their deepest. Nor I expect would what he defined as a problem be seen in those terms. For the most, the rich went off to wild places and shot something if they were feeling a bit poorly.

        • More great insights, Vince. I don’t know which class of Irish he may have been referring to, but I think we can rest assured that no Irish person was going to open up to Freud or one of his associates, no matter what socioeconomic group he or she belonged to.
          All the best,
          Mairéad

  7. Ed Matthews says:

    Wonderful to have stumbled upon your blog, Mairéad. My story isn’t so different from many, many others. We’re undeniably Irish; the Conroy, O’Roarke and Halliday relatives bear witness to the connection to Ireland that is with me always. Unfortunately, the family tree was sundered long ago; my fraternal grandfather was an orphan. Consequently, we cannot say for sure if “Matthews” is a birth name or an adoptive name. So far, even DNA testing hasn’t yielded clues. sláinte.

    • Ed – Welcome to my little corner of the web, where we celebrate all things Irish and Irish American. Thanks so much for checking out my posts and for letting us know about your family’s immigrant tale. I think many young children were orphaned during the 19th and early 20th century when they first came to America, or tragically separated from their families. One reader even told me how her father lost his brother on the crowded streets of New York City and they never again found each other. These heart wrenching stories make me realize how fortunate we are today, and how limited our understanding of our ancestors’ struggles is. Above all else I admire their determination and tenacity. Family research is difficult in the face of such historical hurdles. I wish you every success as you continue your search for the Matthews branch of your family tree.
      Best wishes, and thanks so much for stopping by.
      Mairéad

  8. I smiled when i started reading this blog, inthat way that only an outsider could , my grandparents left Dublin in !916 to live in England , i returned 25 years ago for a short stay and never left. Setting up a small business i found dealing with my kindred to be the most frustrating part of this process yes meant maybe or even no, arrangements and agreements made were at times vauge and nebulas, the Irish attitude made me want to scream, reading your take on the Irish psyche will be both informative and perhaps liberating as i look for my hidden gael

    • Andrew – I’m glad you appreciate my take on the Irish psyche. I think it is only when we move away from Ireland, or return from another country, that we truly come to appreciate the little nuances of character that make us uniquely Irish. Some traits are definitely frustrating, but others make us what we are. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy my future posts on the infamous Irish psyche.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  9. Penny Wolf says:

    A local (Dublin Ohio) town is about to have an Irish festival that we like attending. Looking at the web site for info on the upcoming events I looked up the http://dublinirishfestival.org/celtic-canines, Irish Terrier.
    When I read about the temperament of this dog I remembered your piece here and had to share. It
    seems even the dogs have this same lively, live life to it’s fullest personalitiy. Is it the land itself that has
    taught us this way?

    • Thanks Penny for a great link with wonderful information about all these Irish dog breeds. Last year I took my kids to a Celtic Festival across the Ohio River in Clarkesville, Indiana. My kids were enthralled by an Irish wolf hound. All these Irish dogs are wonderful breeds, with great personality. Love them all.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

  10. We fell from stars and landed light, on the green meadows of the emerald isle.
    Had we known then the trials that would meet us and the hunger for freedom and food that
    would savage our souls, we would of died on arrival.
    As it stands we stayed and endured,and suffered, and used humour to shield us
    from pain, and anger to shield us from fear.
    We as a people are the ultimate contradiction.

  11. Dr Denis O'Callaghan says:

    I have not been back home (Mallow) for fifteen tears (not a typo). Love your wee site.

    • Dear Denis – Thank you so much for visiting my site and checking out my ramblings. My father’s family hail from Kildorrery just a few miles from Mallow. North Cork is a beautiful part of the world. I hope when you revisit Ireland and your hometown of Mallow after all these years, your experiences will bring you tears of joy.
      Best wishes for a very happy and peaceful New Year.
      Mairéad

  12. Any statement that begins ” the Irish are all” is inevitably going to be racist. The presumption that Irish people are beyond psychological analysis is tiresome racism at it’s best. Along with the old hackneyed idea that Irish people are somehow suffering guilt more than any other group. Modern Ireland is a multicultural society, very much wanting to be recognised as the equal to any other in the world. Irish people have had to put up with horrendous stereotyping for centuries. (“The Irish are all pigs” – princess Anne, the queen of England’s sister!) Please refrain from perpetrating such nonsense. Ireland is a peaceful country, one of the few nations of the world that has actually managed to overcome its extraordinary difficulties with a deeply aggressive neighbour, often intent on nothing less than genocide. Read your history. For such a small country, we have given a lot to the cultural enrichment of the planet. Oh, and we never tried to take over the world.

  13. The reason we Irish are beyond pyschoanalysis has nothing to do with our contradictions, guilt or tendancy when in psychic trouble go to poetry, go to storytelling, or to escapism. It’s because 600 years of occupation by the culturally “superior” British and the spiritually “superior” Roman Catholic church caused a mutation in the Irish genome which is passed on to Irish children through their mammys X-chromosome. This gene, named BS101 is now present in 99.6% of the Irish population. People with this mutation have shown a 57% increase in the ability to smell and detect bullshit and bullshitters at a range up to 20 meters. A good example of this gene in action would be Oscar Wilde who called bullshit on many things, Bertie Ahern is an example of someone who can use this ability to not only detect bullshit but also produce some of the finest bullshit in human history.
    What has this got to do with psychoanalysis? Simple, Freud was full of shit, Jung was full of shit (and mildly insane himself) and all psychologists since are inherently and largely unintentionally full of shit. How can you pretend to understand something ( human consciousness) that science cant even begin to describe, well, you can if you are full of shit and you want to be rich,powerful, loved by many ( this is why most Irish people hate Bono) and like to tell people how they should live their lives. Freud couldn’t understand this about the Irish because to do so would have destroyed his world-view and undoubtedly led to many years of expensive psychotherapy.

    P.s. This text contains a test to determine if the reader is a carrier of the BS101 gene. If you wish to find out if you have the gene all you have do is find the hidden test in the text, if you can find the test the you you have the gene and your definitely Irish.

    • Peter – It sounds like I’d need a PhD. (with B…S… piled high and deep) to answer that one.
      All the best,
      Mairead

    • Male of Irish decent with all blood lines from Ireland. My siblings and I have all bastardized the lines but we are Americans now.I am 47, married 19 years, 2 children, Daughter, 18 in just 6 days & my Son 13 this past July. My wife is as beautiful as the day I met her and my children are both healthy and smart. Their home is bought and paid for. I have done the best I can do with the tools I was given. Time and abuse has given illness its opening to my body. I’m not ready to be done but I have little ability to believe my OWN BULL SHIT any longer. I laugh at my wife who said to see a psychologist. Sure I let my daughter go, but only because she has my wife’s blood. Christ I even let her try them pills… I was so happy when my daughter concurred. “I”d rather think like a loon than have no thought at all” I told my little girl before she began her dose. A month later we said good-bye to the PSYCHIATRIST! She still talks with her friend the psychologist. I told her that all the pain she burdens will someday make her the person she WILL BECOME….. That she understood, but not a Doctor? So I labor in my mind trying to figure out……Who do I bullshit in my time of need? My self or my family? How about the doctors and my organs??? Well, I guess I’ll listen to some music and let the wee people decide…. I love Being IRISH!

  14. Michael Dilley says:

    I have always been fascinated by my Irish heritage and how it ties into my own personality traits. References made to the Irish & psychoanalysis have further peaked my interest into our culture. I look forward to learning more.

    • Michael – I’m glad you found this little piece interesting. It truly is an intriguing topic. I’m not an expert in psychology, but over the coming weeks and months I’ll write about some Irish personality traits I’ve become more aware of, simply by living in the United States.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  15. Sean Gilhooley says:

    Being a fan of Scorcese films, I was especially fond of this one in particular, due to my Irish-American heritage. I found this idea very interesting as I was unfamiliar with it at the time. But, being an American, raised around many different ethnic groups, I try not to generalize any type of people. However, I do agree that there is something mysterious, if not, magical about the Irish people as a race.

    • Sean – I too think generalizing any group of people is dangerous territory. However, I like to think we can learn a little about who we are, by examining our commonalities and shared experiences. My goal is to discover the mysterious and mystical connections Irish people have experienced through the ages, and which make us who we are today. I hope to further explore the Irish Psyche in future posts.
      Thanks so much for stopping by.
      Best wishes,
      Mairead

  16. I believe whole heartedly that the reason we are attributed to being impervious to psychoanalysis is that because we are a mass of contradiction. I am directly suburb and independent but will tell anyone who is in a time of need not to be ashamed to rely on others, even though I won’t, I am explosively and violently angry, but refuse to belay anything but a calm composure even in the most dire of times. I preach honesty, and abhor deception while continuously catching myself feeding people half truths. I inquire more than I reveal to others but berate them for not being open. Last but not least I am continually being told by those that know me best that morally and personally I am one of the most horrible human beings on the planet, and yet these same people also claim I am the most reliable friend they have(so much so that I have been the best man for three of my four good friends). I am compassionate and strive to serve the greater good yet have a level of malevolence that borderline on being genocidal. So if you have any thoughts on all of this let me know. :)

    • Aaron – Thank you so much for your wonderful comment and personal illustration of how the Irish are a mass of contradictions. These dichotomies found in our psyche can be seen throughout our history. The Irish Psyche is truly a fascinating subject. Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to our discussion.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

  17. I’ll carry weigh and guilt to the grave. Not just mine but of any who have gained my trust and friendship. I have no problem speaking my troubles but accept no help. I would give my life for my wife and children and a few of my closest and dearest friends. I am considered the kindest person most have met yet my wife is still waiting to meet that fellow. I crawled out of the dirt too many times and cheated death on too many occasion. I seek truth but know deceit. It is my time of need but I will seek ways of avoiding help rather than ask for any. That’s how I found this site. How is psychologist going to help me? I have dined with the DEVIL and danced with GOD. My humble little life….. If only you knew. I’m not sure Hollywood could do it justice. I find it hard to believe myself sometimes. If this be my last winter so be it. Hear me now. I am currently on the loosing end of illness once again. I have just learned recently….. So my brain, well, you know…. Now watch this….. It is December 2014. I will keep you all posted, not about details. I will post on how I bullshit my way back to health, even if I have to beat it with a club. I will keep you posted on IRISH SURVIVAL TACTICS. Lets start with monthly…. Se ya’s next year, or not…

    • Dear Sweemey – Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights into our Irish psyche. I’m so sorry to hear that you are unwell, and send every good wish your way. I hope that your Irish survival tactics will swing into action and that you will gain strength by the day.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

  18. Ray Brown says:

    This qoute was from the movie and nothing I ever found in Frued’s writings. I am 100% percent Irish and we can be a contradiction but there is a reason for this. The Irish have great writers and we Irish have the gift for gab as my dear mother used to say. I like you are Irish American but my entire family came from Mother Ireland. There are things we keep to ourselves, like family matters. ( if a child is a great student a mother will brag about her dear son; however, if he is a bit of a black sheep, she will never express this to outsiders. I think this keeping things to ourselves comes from 800 years of British tyranny. It was for our own protection. When the British arrested the Irish they put us in the paddy wagon. All irish were “Paddies” since they did not want to learn our names. Every Irish was a “Paddy” and this is even true in parts of England even today. . Reading “The Irish Hunger Strike” by Tom Collins or “Paddy’s Lament” by Thomas Gallagher , or a book by Joe Cahill , one can understand better why we Irish can be two different people. The wonderful Irish ,full of fun and good times , or sometimes “tight lipped”. God Bless we Irish and we are still a resilient and fun loving with all that our people had to put up with in Ireland and here in the United States. Ray Brown, M.A.

    • Ray – I have read “Paddy’s Lament” by Thomas Gallagehr but not the other books you mentioned. I’ll have to add them to my reading list. Thank you for your wonderful insights into our Irishness.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

  19. Finally, I’ve found a website that can explain the inner workings of my husband. He is 100% Irish; I am 1/2 Italian and 1/2 French. Married 18 years now and I had to look for help here to find out what makes him tick. I am passionate, he is anything but. He would make a good friend if we were not married. I seek closeness, he seeks distance. He is happy with distance. I am lonely with it. Trust me on this, Freud was right. It’s been tried. You might ask how we have lasted as long as we have. It is just economical now. We neither fight or love. We share no intimacy whatsoever. My husband is well liked to all who meet him; as warm as as any stranger you could expect to meet on the street, even with me. But that is it. Italian women are very passionate and we like to share that passion otherwise we are left cold. Passion cannot be one sided. It burns out quickly like a fast lit match. It cannot sustain itself. His family is the same. Just superficial everything. Much like those battery operated candles you see, all glow and no warmth.

    • Hi Kate – I’m so glad to hear you found this little piece helpful. I have not finished posting about the Irish psyche, so hopefully in 2015 I’ll add some more of my little insights into all things Irish.
      I’m sorry to hear you are not feeling very happy in your marriage right now. I admire your quest to deepen your understanding of what makes you and your husband tick. Even though you may both be American by birth you will find many little cultural nuances between Irish and Italian or French people, which can lead to marital communication issues. Irish men are not good at talking about emotions, and in general, compliments and praise are never free flowing expressions in an Irish home. There is an unspoken assumption that a spouse or loved one automatically knows they are loved and appreciated. Irish mothers are notoriously stoic and self-deprecating. Your husband may be blissfully unaware of your needs. But rest assured, Irish love can be faithful, loyal and enduring. I liked your analogy of the battery operated candle. You may not feel enough warmth from that candle right now, but with Irish men that spark will keep glowing and glowing for a very, very long time – just like an Energizer battery. (I’m not a marriage counsellor, but I hope some of these general insights will be helpful).
      Wishing you every success as you work to create happiness and understanding in your marriage.
      Happy New Year to you and yours,
      Mairéad

  20. I am a 47yo American male born to parents of complete Irish decent. To be fair I can’t say who my forefathers and mothers played around with but their was & is pride in our heritage. I LOVE alcohol and all of its wonderful social powers. Sadly I could never seem to keep from driving so I no longer imbibe. Scotch & a beer at funerals & holidays. I AM NOT AN ALCOHOLIC! Don’t even believe in it… Selfish people afraid to feel. No one likes a quitter. SO, I have stopped for the time being. I remain successfully married after 18 years and have 2 children. My wife? 1/2 Irish and half, God knows what? I am certain that there must be some Polish in there… I could NEVER or will NEVER find any help in talking to a brain shrink or psychologist. The reason? If I can’t figure myself out how the hell is someone who doesn’t even know me going to do it??? I often perplex myself. My need to help others? My search for redemption? My compulsive actions? Then there are much better parts… My FAMILY is EVERYTHING! I look but NEVER touched. I would die for my wife and kids. I will do anything they ask and give anything they need. I waited for my dad to be served first at dinner. At my house? I eat last, even after guests. Certain friends are family. I have the same group of friends that I have had since my teen years, some longer. How did you guess? Yes, they are Irish. In Scranton Pa. their is a rich history of Irish immigrants and coal mining. Our family was politically active and to this date we are sometimes accused of having ties to organized crime. This is sad. One often equates organized crime to I-talian immigrants which we are NOTHING like. They say family is #1. Yet they go out, have relations with God only knows who and what, then return home and sleep wit their wife’s without even taking a shower… They say FRIENDSHIP, then they KILL their friends. I am not a criminal and I am certainly not the definition of ORGANIZED CRIME! I do keep some aspects of my life secret. Yes, my wife knows what she knows but never asks questions. I am told that i have an Irish Temper. What I really have is a strong dislike for stupidity. My son is 13. If he yells at his mother or hits his sister he will be PUNISHED. I am happy to say at 13 the only problem I ever have with him is a lil disrespect. This is all normal for his age. My daughter is now 18. She will be attending college next fall. She was never a problem. I am firm at home so it surprises and at times upsets my wife that I am viewed as a very nice man that everyone seems to like…. She often asks people to come and stay for a few days..lol… I am a union electrician by trade. Today I work as Union Stewart of sorts. It gives me a lot of free time, yet I never seem to have enough of it. Even mow i must be on my way. I have posted here before. I try to understand myself as my life is experiencing BIG changes. Me with health and my daughter getting ready to leave home… When i am under pressure you better believe that no one will see me sweat. None the less in private I will second guess myself and my actions. I need to be around for a few more years…. The story of my life? You would NEVER believe me…. I will come back and check from time to time… I am looking for suggestions and look forward to telling more about myself…

  21. Dwayne Curtis says:

    To Irish Mom,
    Your calm and collective responses to the above comments show your unique Irish qualities without even looking at what you are actually saying but rather how you are saying/wording it.
    This, as part as an Irish attribute, portrays the Irish psyche in one sense.
    I think that when Freud or whoever basically said that the Irish cannot be psychoanalysed, they were talking from their own ‘foreign’ perspective.
    When it comes to the Irish it is more of a clan than a nation when it comes to understanding one another.
    We know by the stubborn, humble, explosive, friendly, bad-tempered, humorous, hardassed and artistic look that we have on our faces, like our brothers and sisters at home, or in this case the expression in ones words rather than jumping the gun and getting into an unnecessary argument.
    There are certain types of people in this world that you just have to understand rather than undermine and try to analyse.
    Therfore, in my opinion, the Irish cannot make use of psychoanalysis from one who does not understand the meaning of being Irish.
    Thank you for reading,
    Dwayne.

    • Dwayne – Thank you for checking out my musings on Freud and the Irish psyche. I love your take on this. Understanding the meaning of being Irish is multi-faceted, and a topic that definitely deserves more discussion. In future posts, I hope to explore the meaning of being Irish in more depth. Your comment has given me plenty food for thought. I love how you say the Irish are “more of a clan than a nation”. And like any family we bicker and fight, but we are loyal and defend each other like siblings. Now I just have to organize my Irish thought processes and write some more posts on our infamous Irish psyche.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

      • Well as someone born in Ireland (Ballinasloe county Galway) and having spent 39 years there before moving to the US with my US born wife in 2009, I feel some statements made here by the author of the initial post and responses to it need addressing.

        Feel free to email me should you desire and I will expand. But I do ask that you change the meaning of “beannacht leat” to blessings on you and not just blessings. There is a big difference when put in context of the topic.

        Tom

        • Hi Tom – I hope your new life in the United States is working out well for you and your wife. You are welcome to join in the discussion here through the comments section, or if you wish to contact me just click on the “contact me” link on the menu bar above the heading at the very top of the page.
          As for my translation of “beannacht leat” I suppose it truly should be blessings with you, not simply blessings. “Beannacht ort” is probably closest to “blessings on you” as you suggest. In more recent blog posts I have been signing off “Slán agus beannacht” which is closer to my translation of “Goodbye and blessings.” Thanks for pointing this out, but for now, I plan to keep my post as I originally published it a few years ago.
          All the best,
          Mairéad

          • Mairead, first let me say well done with your keen interest in your Irish heritage. Secondly my upcoming comments are based on the Irish language as per letter of the law so to speak and I in no way trying to be offensive in any way. Irish has morphed just like all languages but I am referring to original context.

            I spent 14 years been taught Irish in school {Munster dialect). Your translation of Beannacht ort ,while it gets the point across is an attempt at literal translation from one language to another which does not always translate positively . It does not have a single definitive meaning. I have seen numerous Irish translation aids for Irish that get close but not completely. The internet is so full of misleading translations of Irish it can be mind boggling.

            While on and upon, can ( not always) have the same meaning in English they do not in Irish. The use of the word leat is determined by whom is using it, in what order and whom the person is that responds to a comment directed at them.. I have seen tusa, leat and ort all used in the wrong circumstances by people who did not grow up speaking Irish . I remember visiting a Ghaeltacht at a young age and been given an eye opening lesson on this topic.

            As I am sure you know Irish tense, first and second person conversations in Irish do not follow the same structure as English. Ort is a small but complex word to use. Ort as you used it above is somewhat misplaced. It does not actually mean “on” but more upon when used in this context since were directing it at more than one person.
            Ort is used in most cases by the second person noticing the first persons outward emotions ( not always) or when they have been told of a concern by the first person.. Example of correct usage of ort would be when someone is feeling sad, in love, or happy etc and these emotions have been recognised by another who may state it seems there is a sadness upon you. Ort is more of an observation reaction word to a single persons comment when an feeling or action has been observed . Ort can only be used when directed at one person..

            Slán agus beannacht without the leat is a completley different matter :-).

            • Go raibh míle maith agat. I really appreciate this thorough explanation of this Irish grammar. I remember having a book called Buntús Gramadaí when I was a school girl, but alas, I have forgotten much of the valuable lessons in that little book.
              All the best,
              Mairéad

  22. Jim Scribner of Clan Kelly says:

    My grandmother was born in County Galway and I have a degree in Psychology so I love this Matt Damon quote. The Irish have the world’s highest percentage hospitalized schizophrenics. My father had a psych eval when he applied to be a Drill Instructor in the US Marine Corps and the psychiatrist said the test showed he had slight schizophrenic tendencies. When my father asked if that meant he couldn’t be a Drill Instructor the psychiatrist told him, “SGT Scribner, that’s one of the things the US Marine Corps LOOKS FOR in Drill Instructors!” Although being Catholic I consider the whole concept of races largely a secular superstition ignoring the fact that all human DNA codes are ultimately unique to the individual…my own tested DNA markers are about 60% Viking, 30% Celtic, and 10% of Unknown Origin…there are a great many fairly unique factors in Irish history that lend themselves to this quote. The earliest known cave paintings after all were in the Celtic homeland of Western Europe and Celts spread out all the way to India, Galilee, and as far East as Korea at the dawn of civilization. Saint Bridget’s Abbey is the only known case of the voluntary mass conversion of a pagan cult going back to prehistoric times to Christianity. The Battle of Dublin was the first major defeat for the Viking Raiders terrorizing Western Europe in the Dark Ages and Ireland was the first conquest of the most powerful and brilliant Empire in human history which in spite of an Orwellian program of attempted cultural genocide for over 500 years ultimately failed at that objective which is one of the most obvious reasons for the Irish reputation for impervious psychological defense mechanisms reflected in the quote. Irish Americans made up a large part of Washington’s Continental Army in the American Revolution that established Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion in Western Civilization and Irish Americans have been a major influence on virtually every aspect of American history ever since. Wild Bill Donovan was head of the WW2 forerunner of the CIA and John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan remain among our most popular Presidents of the last century each representing in their own way the Irish reputation for being good at thinking outside the box of conventional wisdom in ways that enabled the United States of America to survive in conflicts with the Third Reich and the USSR which in spite of all their Orwellian power no longer exist today let’s note, :)

    • Dear Jim – Thank you so much for your insights into this topic. It’s lovely to hear from someone who has education and experience in the field of psychology. I am not a psychologist but merely posed these questions out of curiosity and a keen interest in exploring this infamous Irish psyche of ours.
      I once read that the high incidence of schizophrenia in Ireland might be linked to a potato diet. This was merely a hypothesis that needed to be explored further through proper research. I have never discovered any research results supporting or debunking this theory.
      I also really enjoyed your family story about your father’s application for Sergeant in the US Marine Corp. Thanks so much for sharing this.
      Take care,
      Mairéad

  23. Were you born in Ireland? If not, you’re an American. I think a lot of women want to be Irish. Well, because Irish people can drink and It starts a convo at a party.

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