I laughed inappropriately. But I have an excuse. It is Freud's fault. Over the decades I have kept up with a certain family who disdains therapy and, as a result, the tales from each of the family members is nothing less than episodes of a sloppy soap opera writer. If you have ever read the catch-up briefs in the Saturday paper on the soaps, you will know my experience as I have a phone conversation with one of the participants in the Family Drama.

Charles is mad at his daughter Lil due to her living with a gay partner; his ex-wife, Deb, won't even speak to Lil anymore. Jean told her eighty-six year old mother off, blaming her for a miserable childhood and the problems she has today. Mary was mad at her mother Inez because she had taken her grandmother's false teeth home from the hospital and, so, grandmother would not see anyone who visited. Bill left Josie and ran off with a flootsy girl in Mississippi; he wants to come home, but Josie won't let him despite the kids crying all the time. At Christmas dinner everyone ate in silence and refused to look at one another due to the undercurrent animosities. Ann left in a huff because no one ate her orange-pineapple-cranberry dessert. The turkey was over-cooked and dry but Sam, the chef, didn't notice because he was drunk.

Well, after listening to these stories across the decades on the phone and in person, I did the most irrational thing: I broke out laughing. With a smile on my face, I'm telling you it is Freud's fault. Perhaps you will say: Frank blames Siggy for his laughing sixty years after the first psychoanalyst's death. Okay. I assume responsibility, but I do get an explanation. Sigmund Freud first pierced through the curtain of human irrationality and hooked all the misery to what happened to people as children. Of course, as the pioneer he made many mistakes, but he deserves respect (and in this case, - I smile again - part blame for my inappropriate laughter!) because he started a mighty movement in history.

People can solve the riddles of childhood. They can free themselves from soap opera lives. They can step away from the hateful episodes with family where there is misery, huffiness, paranoia, acrimony and all the rest. Those who take the risks of analyzing their lives can learn to live in peace and love. They learned a series of critical lessons as they patiently combed through their lives.

1. There is no one to blame because their parents were overgrown children.

2. Their parents did not choose evil; they operated out of their unconscious with all the psychological games; internally, they simply thought themselves misunderstood and had no awareness of participating in repetitive scripts.

3. As a child, the analysand learns, I made the main decisions that hurt me. This means, ultimately, that if I am miserable, only I am to blame.

4. Gee, I, too, have trouble - even with therapy - in giving up the Script. This causes a measure of forgiveness for those who never undertook psychotherapy.

5. In the course of therapy the person finds that he (she) does things that detract from personal identity and even sets up conditions to block intimacy. Once again, this triggers some forgiveness.

6. The analysand learns that one of the mistakes made is that people have little awareness of modularity, i.e.. that the brain has compartments. Sure, mom gets in her stuck place, but she also has other areas of her life where she is healthy.

7. The society around simply does not understand the dynamic unconscious and how the foe is internal rather than external so they just keep blaming others . In other words, it's not just MY family, it is everyone out there - and the whole society does it.

8. People cannot stand aloneness mistaking it for abandonment and, as a result, get in semi-close relationships without thinking them out. This means that people prefer the family games rather than face the world alone.

9. There is a way to love if I focus on remembering modularity and use presuppositions wisely. This takes enormous conscious energy and only comes after de-commissioning a lot of childhood pull.

10. I am lovable and capable. This means that I need not get defensive about who I am or what I do - to anyone including family.

11. There is no reason for scare as a background emotion; happiness is just fine. With this awareness, however, comes the realization that most people are undergirded with a measure of scare. Again, some forgiveness results.

12. Rather than have anger at the family, a measure of compassion is in order, because, to a great degree, they have not had free lives.

Well, those are a few of the lessons learned. Learning them and their companions, though, is the Grand Achievement. A giant step has been taken away from the gaminess and soap opera lives of those who refuse to take psychotherapy seriously.

There are some drawbacks, though. One is that you have a measure of aloneness in that there are only a few who make the trek through the unconscious and cease the morbid Scripts learned in childhood. Similarly, you may want serious, in-depth conversations about real issues with those who can go deep, but you discover that there are few who can do that. Daily you encounter people still wallowing in the pit of childhood issues. There is difficulty talking with them because they are unaware of what is really happening; they still live in soap opera worlds and wonder, strangely, what is wrong with you because you don't!

But, maybe the worst is that you laugh inappropriately. If you are like me, there is a gurgle of relief that you are not still in the soap opera world and, when someone goes on and on without doing anything about it, your only recourse is to chuckle softly. Underneath the chuckle, though, is a measure of sadness because there is no sense in people living that way anymore. Maybe, if we work at it, more people will wake up in the next century.
In the meantime, though, join me in blaming Freud (!) for the inappropriate laughter.