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A stock image in cartoons and comics. As short hand for therapy, someone is lying on a couch, even though this is not very common nowadays. Comes from All Psychology Is Freudian. Fans of Freudian psychoanalysis note that during free association the therapist and client are not facing each other, but this has become a visual symbol of therapy anyway.

Examples of Freudian Couch include:


  • Seen in Tim Burton's adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (An Oompa-Loompa is the therapist.)
  • The promotional art for the documentary Confessions of a Superhero features a performer dressed as Superman lying on a couch.
  • In Star Trek: Insurrection, a couch/recliner is shown in Counselor Troi's office. When Riker comes by to flirt with her, he immediately lies down and says he needs therapy.
  • A recurring theme and plot device in Annie Hall.


  • In one of the CHERUB books, James is in a therapy session. They have a slightly weird little dialogue which goes something like this:

 James: Man, this couch is comfy. I could fall asleep on it.

Therapist: Really? Hmm, does that mean you're tired? Have you been having trouble sleeping lately?

James: Now you mention it, yes.

    • His therapist gives him the choice of where to sit but he feels that he needs to lie on the couch to get the "full therapy experience".
  • Callie, the protagonist of Cut, is on one of these during her Individual Therapy sessions in Sea Pines, while her therapist sits on a "dead cow chair".
  • In Dreamcatcher, Henry briefly ponders his patients' choices between the couch or a chair when they come into his office.

Live Action TV

  • Sherlock: In the episode "The Hounds of Baskerville", Henry Knight has a conversation with his therapist, Doctor Mortimer, about his reccuring dreams, while lying on a couch in his home while she takes notes.
  • The Bob Newhart Show
  • Played completely straight in the first season of Mad Men. Don Draper sends his wife Betty for psychoanalysis, and the setup is correct for free association: the couch is set away from the chair the therapist is sitting in, and he freaks out slightly when she sits up and makes eye contact.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy does this on a grave in "Conversations With Dead People" when a vampire she's about to stake turns out to be a psych major who went to high school with her.
  • The living room couch in Frasier is frequently (though informally) appropriated for this, due to the fact that two of the main characters are psychiatrists.
    • In the episode where Frasier goes back to private practice, he gets a Freudian Couch in his office too.
    • Also, Frasier and Niles did this as kids as seen in their old home movies.

Newspaper Comics

  • The Far Side used this rather often, even though creator Gary Larson had some issues with it:
    • In the 10th anniversary retrospective, Larson said he considered the device a cliché. He also described how having an animal visited a human psychiatrist would frequently break his own Willing Suspension of Disbelief and cause him to start questioning everything about his comic.
    • One particular comic embarrassingly backfired when Gary Larson thought it would be funny to draw a creature who had to see a psychiatrist because of his severe anger-management problems over having been born as nothing but a disembodied eyeball. Most readers either missed the eyeball entirely or thought it was just one of the buttons sewed onto the couch. In his 10th anniversary retrospective, Larson briefly tried to defend the cartoon before admitting that, yes, it sucked.
  • And Ziggy, who might be the reason for that.
  • Sometimes found in The New Yorker cartoons.
  • In Blondie when the title character is looking for a cargo van for her catering business, one van was formerly owned by a psychiatrist who went to people's homes. And had the Freudian Couch set up in the van.
  • Several classic Gahan Wilson cartoons. In one, the patient, dressed as Napoleon, is sitting up on the couch and reading a despatch while an officer in a Napoleonic uniform stands at attention. The psychiatrist fumes, "We'll never get anywhere with these constant interruptions from the front!" In another, the psychiatrist is a bespectacled, Freud-bearded corpse in advanced decay, and the patient on the couch, blithely looking at the ceiling, asks, "How long has it been since we had our little disagreement, Doctor?" Still another has the psychiatrist down on his knees kissing the hand of the patient, who says irritably, "This is not going to help my Messianic complex, Doctor!"
    • "When did you first become aware of this imagined 'plot to get you?'"
  • One, uncredited but resembling work by Jim Toomey of Sherman's Lagoon, showed a bull lying on the couch, with a matador in the psychiatrist's position. The bull is saying, "I know it's a symptom of my neurosis, doctor, but I'm having difficulty trusting you."

Video Games


  • Level 30 Psychiatry uses them what with the whole premise being video game characters getting therapy. It's destroyed and replaced in the second comic due to a nervous Creeper.

Web Original

  • One makes several appearances in Awkward, in Alex's therapy sessions with Henry.
  • In Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, after Penny's death and his own defeat, Captain Hammer is seen crying on a couch, with a therapist facing him.

Western Animation

  • Used in The Simpsons when Marge is confronting her fear of flying.
    • It's also been used as a Couch Gag, when Homer rushes in the door, lies on the couch, and begins confessing to his psychotherapist.
    • Parodied in an episode where Homer is talking about some problems he's been having, and is lying on the couch...which turns out to be in a furniture store.

  "Uh...sir? This really goes beyond my training as a furniture salesman..."


 CIA Therapist: Okay, and how do you feel right now?

Stan: I dunno, a little...sad?

CIA Therapist: And do you know why?

Stan: Because I... miss him?

CIA Therapist: No, because you're a LADY!!

  • Used as a throwaway gag in Phineas and Ferb. They cut away from Perry and Doofenshmirtz and when we see them again Perry has Doof on a couch talking about his childhood for a moment before they react to something happening offscreen.
  • Used with a bench (and complete with reading glasses and a notepad) by Twilight Sparkle in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Lesson Zero" in an attempt to alleviate her friend Rainbow Dash's mistakenly perceived anger issues.
  • Used in the Veggie Tales silly song "I Love My Lips". Larry sings the song while lying on the couch, in therapy with Dr. Archibald. Twice in the song, he gets so carried away that he gets up and starts dancing around the room.
  • Dr Scratchensniff from Animaniacs would have these in his office. One episode ('La La Law') featuers him lugging a new one on his back from a supply shop to his (illegally parked) car.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Monster from Id" its revealed that Baljeet went to pyschology camp. Cut to a flashback of a hundred kids talking to other kids on couches, all saying "And how did that make you feel?"

Real Life

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