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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Feb 19, 2023

"[in the play Freud's Last Session]... with the sound of the bombers both men react as they did the first time - with fear. But this time instead of disguising it they admit to it. That admittance was the bond between them. Freud also was shaken by the whole experience. At the very end of the play, and repeatedly through the play, there were reports on the BBC about the war. The BBC at that point had a live orchestra, and when the news was finished the orchestra would jump in and play music until the next news bulletin. Every time the news was over, Freud immediately turned it off, so he didn’t have to listen to music. Lewis catches on to that at some point and he equates it with Freud's wall that he puts up to shield his emotions because he feels they are being manipulated. But at the very end of the play, after Lewis leaves, Freud listens to the radio and for the first time he doesn't turn off the music. The last image of the play is him just looking at the radio as if trying to really understand music and his own aversion to it.” 




Episode Description: 

The similarity is noted between the clinical encounter and the structure of Mark's play where there are two men in a room intensely engaging with each other. We discuss how the trajectory of the play, like in the consulting room, allows for the emergence of latent meanings to be revealed between Freud and Lewis. Mark shares with us what drew him to these two thinkers and how he created a storyline that would demonstrate the underlying emotional struggles of each, individually and together. It is set at the beginning of World War II, three weeks before Freud's death. The play touches on Freud's childhood, his intense relationship with his daughter Anna and his planned euthanasia. We listen to a reading of a piece of the play that entails a powerful encounter between the characters. Mark has adapted this play for the screen, starring Anthony Hopkins as Freud, that is currently being filmed. We close with his mentioning his fiction writing and an upcoming theatrical release The World's Happiest Man. 


Our Guest: 

Mark St. Germain writes for the stage, television, and film. He is a recipient of the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award. Mark has written the plays Freud’s Last Session (Best Play Award from the Off-Broadway Alliance), Camping with Henry and Tom, Forgiving Typhoid Mary (Time Magazine’s “Year’s Ten Best”), and Becoming Dr. Ruth, the story of Dr. Ruth Westheimer. A sampling of his other plays includes Best of Enemies, Ears on a Beatle, Scott and Hem, Dancing Lessons, and Eleanor. His play, The Happiest Man on Earth premieres in the summer of 2023 at the Barrington Stage Company. He has written a memoir, Walking Evil, and a thriller, The Mirror Man. His screen adaptation of his play Freud’s Last Session has begun filming. 



Recommended Reading: 


Gay, Peter: Freud: A Life for Our Time   


Jones, Ernest: The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud   


Green, Roger Lancelyn and Hooper, Walter: C. S. Lewis: A Biography   




St. Germain, Mark: The Mirror Man: A Thriller 



St. Germain, Mark: Becoming Dr. Ruth 


St. Germain, Mark: The God Committee