Dr. Freud and the Interpretation of Your Vacation

Happy summer! Finally, that sweet season is here. Outdoor activities, gardens in full bloom, warm breezes, early sunrise and late sunset are ours to enjoy. But projects often conclude in June and July – August billable hours shrink. What’s a Freelancer to do? Reviewing your client list and thinking about how to create business in the fourth quarter is always useful. Another option is to take a vacation, If you can afford it.

I’ve vacationed in every season and personally, I prefer winter get-aways that allow me to visit warm climates and escape  frigid, snowy New England for a week or two. Winter vacations are expensive though, in terms of time and money and they take business owners and Freelancers out of town when clients are in town. Might we lose business as a result?

Skiers are able to take long weekends to nearby locations, but those in search of warm weather must travel much farther and commit a much larger block of time and money. If you’re able, then do so, but many of the self-employed are better served by taking a vacation when clients are likely to be away as well.

Vacations are good for us. We need to get away from our usual workaday routines and refresh our spirits and revitalize our perspectives. Both psychologists and productivity experts espouse the benefits of getting away from it all and short vacations sprinkled throughout the year have been demonstrated to produce greater stress reductions and both creativity and productivity benefits than a single two week vacation. Besides, a serendipitous networking opportunity could fall into your lap while on vacation, or you could possibly come up with a brilliant solution to a problem, once you’ve begun to relax and unwind.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and the father of psychotherapy, was a devotee of the summer vacation. The project of planning his family’s annual summer vacation was a favorite project that he called the “Sommerproblem”. Vacations brought tangible benefits to Dr. Freud.

In July 1895, while summering at Schloss Bellevue, a hotel and spa located in an outer district of Vienna, Freud had the dream that gave rise to his ground-breaking theory that dreams are wish fulfillment. His book On the Interpretation of Dreams was published in 1899 and it is still in print.

In his only visit to the US, in August 1909, Freud combined business with pleasure when he came to Clark University in Worcester, MA to deliver five lectures on psychoanalysis and receive an honorary degree. On his visit, Freud met James Jackson Putnam, professor of neurology at Harvard University and a leader of the movement to professionalize psychotherapy in the US. Putnam invited Freud and two other well-known psychoanalysts who traveled to America with him — Carl Jung, who also lectured and received an honorary degree from Clark and Sandor Ferenczi — to spend a few days at the Putnam family camp in the Adirondacks and visit Niagara Falls.

Several days of hiking and feasting led Freud to later write of “the most important personal relationship which arose from the meeting at Worcester”. Putnam gave credibility to Freud’s theories about psychoanalysis and promoted its use (NY Times August 29,2009). His reputation soared and his practice was set from then on.

On your next vacation, it is unlikely that you will be inspired to author a book that becomes an international best-seller, connect with an influential thought-leader who helps to solidify your professional reputation, or encounter a venture capitalist who provides the funding that takes your fledgling business to the next level. You could find your next client, however, or maybe someone who tells you about an unexpected market for your services. If you plan well and don’t try to overdo, you will relax and feel better, whether you visit a new location or return to a perennial favorite. Whatever you do, have a wonderful time!

Thanks for reading,



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