Visual clichés have the advantage of being short cuts, immediately recognizable, to concepts, and the disadvantage of imposing limits on that concept. If you see a drawing of someone lying on a chaise-longue, while someone else sits near him, often with notebook and pen, you think at once ‘Ah, psychoanalysis.’ There has probably, for instance, never been an issue of the ‘New Yorker’ without at least one such cartoon. Yet ‘New Yorker’ readers are just the sort of people one might hope would take a more open view of what psychoanalysis is all about.
Of the dozen or so psychoanalysts and analytic therapists I have known, either as ‘Patient’ (the wrong word; ‘Analysand’ is semantically better but lexically ugly (and of course unrecognized by the barely literate Microsoft Word Spell-check)) or as friend or acquaintance, some but not all have had couches in their consulting-rooms, but they hardly ever use them, except perhaps to rest between sessions. Nevertheless the cliché dies hard. Here are the covers of two books in my present heap of bedside reading: