Skip to content

My short career as a Freud expert

I received the following email the other day (well, actually it was the other month, as we’re still on blog-delay):

Dear Prof. Andrew Gelman,

The ** Broadcasting Authority, together with ** – a well-established production company, are producing a documentary about Freud.

The documentary presents different points of view regarding Freud’s personality and theories.
At this stage of the production we are mainly interested in views regarding the influence Freud / Freudism / Psychoanalysis have on our culture – whether positive or negative. We are addressing the effect Freud and/or analysis left on the culture regarding morality, the law system, therapy, art, consumerism, films, etc. We would like to interview you on your point of view regarding Freud’s mark on humanity in regard to the Economy.

Once you respond favorably we can proceed and precisely define the topics of the talk.
The shooting in NYC is on May 27th and should not demand more than one hour of your time.
We’ll appreciate having you on board and take part in the documentary.

Many thanks for considering our request

Awaiting your reply

Sincerely yours
Production Assistant
** Production

I replied: Hi, thanks for asking but I am abroad on sabbatical at this time.

But then they emailed me back:

If ‘abroad’ is Paris or ** or ** or ** – we can still do it…

At this point I was starting to get curious. But I still wasn’t sure I was the right person for the job, so I wrote back to clarify:

Hi, indeed I’m in Paris but I don’t know if I’m the right person for you. My only thought on Freud and the economy is that I think that economics today has the social and intellectual status of Freudian psychology in the 1950s:

Economics now = Freudian psychology in the 1950s: More on the incoherence of “economics exceptionalism”

But I don’t really have anything to say about Freud specifically.

They got back to me right away:

Thank you
Sorry to have bothered you

So I guess it really was some sort of mistaken identity.


  1. Nick Cox says:

    Mistaken identity cuts two ways. Perhaps it’s part of the joke, but the image seems to be a Lucian Freud painting and the story about Sigmund. A Freudian slip, n’est-ce pas?

  2. Stephen says:

    Perhaps they were reading your sister blog.

  3. Andrew Lee says:

    A quick check on the Google revealed that a Tamara Gelman is employed at an Anna Freud Center in the UK. Don’t know how they mistook “Andrew” for “Tamara,” though. Gross incompetence! Clearly we should not hold our breaths for the premiere of that film

  4. […] written about this before (see also here), but I was moved to make this point again after being pointed by Mark Palko to an opinion piece by […]

  5. […] I don’t know which aspect of this email is more bizarre, that they sent me an unsolicited email that concludes with bullying pseudo-legal instructions, or that they think I’m an expert on North Korea (I guess from this post; to be fair, it seems that I know more about North Korea than the people who run the World Values Survey). Don’t they know that my real expertise is on Freud? […]

Leave a Reply