Bad Analyst in Friends — Işık Barış Fidaner


In Friends S01E13, Phoebe is dating a ‘shrink’ called Roger who immediately begins analyzing her friends’ personalities as soon as he is introduced to them. As a character, Roger is designed to fulfill the role of a ‘subject supposed to know’ everything that matters about all the people that he has just seen for a few seconds. Even if he doesn’t know everything, he is able to infer the crucial facts about people’s personalities and then goes on to shock them by confronting them with these facts that they had been choosing to ignore. Just based on an instant initial impression, he can guess correctly the most important life events in the person’s history, his/her desires and what they are compensating for in their behavior, etc.

If Roger represents a psychoanalyst, then we should call him a bad analyst. Even though Roger tends to make indirect statements like “maybe you have intimacy issues”, this cautiousness has the inverse effect and reinforces his statements further; and he obviously enjoys fulfilling the role of the subject supposed to know, which means that he is exercising Master’s discourse instead of Analyst’s discourse.

By confronting people with his shocking analyses, Roger indeed exposes the unknown-known fantasies that shape their reality. But this confrontation does not make their unconscious permeable to their consciousness: It does not turn unknown-knowns into known-unknowns [1]. Instead Roger imposes a different reality as the supposedly true state of affairs. For example when Monica and Ross eat cookies too enthusiastically, Roger says “Easy on the cookies, okay? Remember, they’re just food, they’re not love.” Roger takes a masculine stance that imposes his cynical version of reality on them; he enacts a masculine impose-ture. A good analyst would instead hystericize the analysand by a feminine stance that acknowledges the truths as not completely knowable.

Roger’s ultimate stance is revealed when he openly displays to Phoebe his hatred of ignorance with these words:

Actually, it’s quite typical behavior when you have this kind of dysfunctional group dynamic. You know, this kind of codependent emotionally stunted, sitting in your stupid coffeehouse, with your stupid big cups which, I’m sorry, might as well have nipples on them. And you’re all like, “Oh, define me. Define me. Love me. I need love.”

Especially his dismissive emphasis on the word “stupid” openly displays Roger’s masculine hatred of ignorance. As a result of this display of hatred, Phoebe becomes unable to ignore her hatred of Roger and says “I hate that guy” to her friends who also hate that guy. They all become unable to ignore their hatred of Roger, because their daily usual ignorance of hatred is neutralized by Roger’s hatred of ignorance.

That’s why Roger represents a really bad analyst. Instead of hystericizing people and producing love and known-unknowns, he obsessivizes people over their unknown-knowns and absorbs love, thereby antagonizes Phoebe and her friends.

Işık Barış Fidaner is a computer scientist with a PhD from Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. Admin of Yersiz Şeyler, Editor of Žižekian Analysis, Curator of Görce Writings. Twitter: @BarisFidaner


[1] See “Making the combinatorial unworld of the unconscious permeable”

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s