Chapter 1 : The one with the Freudian first impression
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The Psychodynamic Theory
Oliver Wood sighed miserably, dragging his heavy satchel behind him across the floor. He wasn’t thinking of the fact that there would be worn hole in the bottom of his bag if he didn’t pick it up. No, his mind was somewhere else entirely. The headmaster’s words spoken yesterday evening at the feast repeated themselves, echoing around his mind...
“This term we will be joined by a Sports Psychologist to aid in Quidditch training. This exciting prospect means that house Quidditch players will meet with Professor Core in frequent appointments to improve the skills of our athletes on and off the pitch.”
Wood was unimpressed. He had spent years striving for the respected title of Gryffindor Quidditch Captain and he was good in his position. For instance, only a few days ago he had trained a great potential for the team; the famous Harry Potter was to fill the position of seeker. And Wood hadn’t seen such a promising line-up for Gryffindor in all his years on the team. He was looking forward to training sessions, discussing tactics and adrenaline-fuelled games in the new season.
He had not come all this way for his efforts to be squashed by some psychoanalyst who didn’t know the first thing about Quidditch. He was not looking forward to being forced into group therapy sessions where the team had to talk about their ‘feelings’. And more importantly, his on/off girlfriend Alicia Spinnet suggested that morning that they should spend this free period alone in his dormitory with him wearing nothing but his sexy leather keeper’s gloves.
However, MacGonagall had suggested earlier that morning that he would spend an hour in the hands of Professor Core instead of the hands of Alicia.
And so he had arrived, bag still sliding on the floor, up to the door marked with the new engraved sign.
He knocked sharply, three times and took another heavy breath as the occupant of the room asked him to enter. He pushed the door through and was met by the comfy contents of what used to be a classroom.
A dark-skinned woman with subtle eyes, a gentle smile and a glittering nose piercing acknowledged his entrance and rose from her swivelling office chair, behind her desk.
“Good afternoon Oliver. Or do you prefer Ollie?” She spoke softly.
The walls were plastered with newspaper articles and strange posters of bizarre psychological phenomena. The right wall was decorated entirely by one huge poster of an optical illusion that made Wood feel queasy when he first saw it.
“Would you care to take a seat, Wood?” the beaming teacher asked, unabashed by the cold disposition of her pupil. She gestured towards a large couch, but he only scowled at her,
“Do you mind if I sit somewhere less… condescending?” Wood asked, still positioned over the threshold with one foot outside the door.
“Sure.” She answered, gesturing to the seat opposite herself at her desk. Then she sat down, expectant that Wood would follow her lead. He grudgingly did, kicking his bag as he put it down.
“I’m so happy you could attend, Wood.” She cheerily welcomed him. From the nameplate on her desk Wood could see it was ‘Professor S Core’ who was speaking at him. “I thought it would be important for all the Quidditch captains to meet with me at least once a week to talk about the performance of the house teams.”
“Once a week?” Wood interrupted in shock. According to McGonagall, who had persuaded him to attend this session, this meeting was a one-off. He was not about to sacrifice every Thursday’s third period shag-session with Alicia for a date with this fraud!
“Yes. To monitor progress.” She smiled enthusiastically.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible.” He snapped, scowling all the while.
“And why not?” She looked disappointed.
“I have exams in the summer, I need the grades for scholarship programs to consider me, I have a Quidditch team to coach, I have copious amounts of homework to contend with…” His voice was rising.
“If I didn’t know better Wood, I’d say you have a problem with me.” Professor Core, flicked her shoulder-length black hair back. “I don’t think you want to be here.”
“You would be correct in those assumptions.” He spat bitterly. She had no idea.
The teacher paused for a moment before saying, "But can you not see that this could be beneficial to you, to your team and your house’s abysmal track record in Quidditch?” She raised an eyebrow.
“Yes.” Wood replied as calmly as he could, trying not to think of exactly where else he could be right now. “Maybe I should be here, but I don’t want to be.”
“Ah!” Core’s eyes widened as if this was the answer she wanted to get out of him. Wood looked up with his irritated expression. “What do you know of Freud’s Psychodynamic theory of personality?” She leant forward on the desk with intrigue. He rolled his eyes,
“The basic assumption is that everyone has a unconscious mind.”
“A what?” He hoped his rippling Scottish accent made his outbursts sound more venomous. He crossed his arms and glared at Professor Core intently.
“An unconscious mind - a big thing of crap at the back of your brain where all weird and wonderful and naughty and nasty stuff is occurring. But it isn’t brought to light because it is not part of conscious thought.”
“Nasty stuff like what?”
“Drugs… Murder… Sex.” Oliver began to feel rather hot under the collar, was she a mind reader as well as a psycho-psychologist? “And it’s the way we manage the weird instinctive drives that defines our personality. See?” Wood did not see.
“And how exactly do we manage our ‘weird instinctive drives’?” He wasn’t at all interested, but he felt that his questions helped move the meeting along. He yawned pointedly to reiterate his stance on all things Sports Psychology related.
“Well…” She started (Wood had a feeling this explanation was conveniently going to last the full hour of their appointment together), fumbling around in a draw. She drew out three plastic figures and displayed them neatly on the desk.
“What are these?” The boy asked tiredly, “I’m a little too old and a lot too male to be playing with dolls.”
“This is the id.” Core picked up the first figure, ignoring Wood’s comments. It was a grinning red devil character with horns, a pointy tail and a three-pronged fork, “This represents what you want. At this very moment in the unconscious mind this guy is making a fuss, throwing a tantrum and screaming at you - telling you to embrace what you want to do.”
Oliver Wood knew exactly what he wanted to embrace and what he wanted to do and it was not here in this classroom. It was several floors up and impatiently waiting for him in his bedchamber.
“And the second one?” Wood asked, and the teacher lifted up a little angel figure, a golden halo floating a top a flow of blonde hair, and silvery wings flapping celestially.
“The superego. That tells you what you need to do. What you should do. What is socially acceptable and generally good for you.”
The superego sounded a lot like Professor Core, or McGonagall.
“It is.” Core agreed. “Which is why we have this little guy.” She showed him the final figure out of the trio; a miniature referee, caught in the pose of blowing a whistle and giving out a red card.
“Hooch?” Wood asked, not understanding the analogy. Core shook her head.
“This is just an allegory, don’t take the physical representations too seriously! This guy is refereeing between the id and superego, the good and the bad, the pleasure principle and the moral principle.” She told him. “Obviously you need to have a balance between the two. You don’t want to spend your life humping everything that moves because you want to, or not humping anything at all because it’s not looked upon in a favourable light…”
“You need a balance of humping?” Oliver was confused by this conclusion. He should have been getting his fair amount of humping if it weren’t for Professor Core, Freud and the three ridiculous plastic models.
“Yes! So the ego (the referee) is there to enforce compromise, get it?”
“And all this is going on in the back of my head where I can’t feel it?” Wood scoffed.
“Yep. But the thing is, the ego gets a little bit stressed, what with having to listen to everyone tell him what to do [Wood couldn’t imagine what that felt like, being lectured at by a crazed psychotherapist as per the instruction of his head of house] so he finds ways of coping. That’s where the ‘management of the instinctive drives’ come in.”
“Right.” It was just so fascinating. Not.
“Ego Defence Mechanisms!” Core cried excitedly. Oliver rolled his eyes again – could this woman not take a hint?
“Great. But how exactly does that apply to me?”
“My intuition tells me you have some aggression issues. You’re taking your bad mood out on me.”
For the first time since the meeting began, Wood began to feel a bit guilty about his treatment of Professor Core. It wasn’t her fault that Alicia Spinnet had thrown herself at him that morning and that he was fighting his inner hormonal teenage angst. He began to apologise, but the teacher stopped him.
“Its called 'Displacement'. Displacing the stress inflicted on the ego by the id and the superego onto external factors. Like your local Sports Psychologist.” She pointed to herself. She wasn’t angry, far from it, she obviously dealt with his kind a lot.
Wood could certainly empathise with that – his id was screaming for Alicia, but his superego was telling him that he needed the guidance of a sports specialist for the welfare of his team.
“Which brings me on to the application to Quidditch. Here are loads of mechanisms your ego uses to de-stress, displacement being only one of them. But the best one to go for is 'Sublimation'.”
“And what is that?”
“Taking part in sports as a vent for your frustration.” She smiled knowingly. “For example, tensions may be high in an office of muggles because of all the work they have to do without the help of magic. Therefore they might start one of those strange ‘football’ or ‘rugby’ clubs they have so that colleagues can relieve themselves of the stress.”
“I understand.” Wood found himself saying, the words escaping him before he thought about them.
“Good. Then I think we can call it quits for now then, but I’d very much like to see you again next week.” She said hopefully.
Wood smiled, “Me too.” And he picked up his bag as he went to leave the room, “And thanks.”
His first meeting with Core had not got off to a great start, but he was beginning to understand the use of it.