Are Dogs Any Good at Psychoanalysis?

Sigmund Freud's pet Chow Chow, Jofi, attended therapy sessions and could “sense” patients’ emotional states.
Sigmund Freud's pet Chow Chow, Jofi, attended therapy sessions and could “sense” patients’ emotional states.

Therapy dogs might seem like a recent innovation, but one of the world's greatest psychologists understood the potential benefits of having a puppy tend to patients. Sigmund Freud, the Austrian "father of psychoanalysis," sometimes allowed his pet Chow Chow, Jofi, to hang out in his office when he was treating patients.

While Freud thought the dog was particularly beneficial to children, Jofi could reportedly sense the best way to deal with adult patients, too. If the patient was calm, the Chow Chow would sit within patting distance. With anxious patients, however, Jofi would keep her distance.

Freud could even "read" his patients by Jofi's actions. If the dog wanted to leave the room, Freud would suggest that the patient had said something Jofi didn't like. And if Jofi scratched to come back in, Freud would remark that "Jofi has decided to give you another chance." Freud believed that having Jofi in the room helped patients be more open about their troubles.

Analyzing Freud:

  • A lifelong smoker and eventual cancer sufferer, Freud believed his 20-cigarette-a-day habit helped his creativity and productivity.

  • Freud turned down a $100,000 USD offer from producer Samuel Goldwyn to consult on a script about the world's greatest love stories.

  • Freud thought Americans were too concerned about money and refused to move there even after the Nazis took over Vienna.

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    • Sigmund Freud's pet Chow Chow, Jofi, attended therapy sessions and could “sense” patients’ emotional states.
      Sigmund Freud's pet Chow Chow, Jofi, attended therapy sessions and could “sense” patients’ emotional states.