The Psychology Behind Silly Mistakes
Self Help

The Psychology Behind Silly Mistakes

A girl surprised while working

Humans are called social animals. Which means they can’t live alone or stay in isolation for long time. And as they live with a group of people or in society they are expected to behave in a certain way. Why, because their behavior has a significant impact on other people such as behavior that can hurt another person or make them happy. Communication is the medium through which people express their thoughts to each other. While people communicate sometimes they say something that they do not want to. They can be surprised, shocked, or embarrassed by what they just said. This behaviour is commonly, called silly mistakes.

Silly mistakes are also called Freudian slips. Renowned psychologist Sigmund Freud, called it Fehlleistungen which means faulty actions. He discussed about this phenomenon in his famous book, Psychopathology of Everyday Life. This term was translated to English by James Strachey, who called it Freudian slip. The medical term for Freudian slip is Parapraxis.

Origin of this term:

Sigmund Freud was working with a young man who misquoted a Latin phrase from “The Aeneid.” He had dropped one of the Latin words when he repeated it. Freud believed that dropped words had a significant reason- reviling look into his unconscious mind. Through psychoanalysis, he determined that this word was reminded of blood to the men which he believed liked with the pregnancy scare he had expired with his girlfriend. Because of the negative emotions associated with this word his unconscious mind blocked this word.

Also Read: Why Is It Important To Not Hold On To The Past?

American Psychological Association definition of Freudian Slip-

The American Psychological Association defines a Freudian slip as “an unconscious error or oversight in writing, speech, or action that is held to be caused by unacceptable impulses breaking through the ego’s defenses and exposing the individual’s true wishes or feelings”.

Some Famous Freudian slips:
  1. In 1991, Famous Politician Ted Kennedy said, “Our National interest ought to encourage the beast” in a Television speech. He used the word beast instead of best.
  2. During the 2003 British Academy Film Awards famous actor Meryl Streep said, “I would like to spank.” In her speech instead of thank.
  3. In 1998 during season four of the hit sitcom Friends Ross accidentally used the name of her Ex-partner for her current partner. She said, “I take thee, Rachel.” Instead of Emily.
The psychology behind Freudian slip:

Humans are pleasure-seeking creatures and sometimes our Ego defense mechanism does not allow us to do so. In that situation sometimes our unconscious mind takes charge of the situation and unknowingly person’s hidden desires, wishes or fears can affect a person’s present conversation, action, or writing. In this situation person can either find it difficult to remember the work that is associated with negative emotions or experience or exhibit words which is attached to positive emotions or misplace the word which changes the entire meaning of the sentence for example:

  • Conversation mistakes: Someone calls her life partner by the name of her Ex-boyfriend, Reading mistakes: Organism as orgasm.
  • Mispronouncing words: Saying beast to best.
Ego defense mechanism:
  • Avoidance: Avoidance of negative emotions can lead to silly mistakes. As remembering the word can cause pain, fear, or shame to the person they unintentionally forget, or misplace the word.
  • Repression: A person can unconsciously repress the word that reminds them of pain or fear and when they read, listen, or write that word they misplace the word for reducing negative emotions (anxiety and guilt).
One more reason can be:

Mental error: Reason is not very clear in the thought process while speaking, reading or writing or he is engaged in any other thoughts which leads to misplacement.

Also Read: Embracing Relationship During Lockdown

To avoid Freudian slip in conversation:
  1. People must be mindful while performing the task (reading, writing, and listening). Which means focusing on one task at a time and avoiding multitasking.
  2. Clarity in thoughts. Thinking before speaking. Before you speak be very clear in your mind what you are going to speak. Also, people make silly mistakes more when they say what they don’t feel. Being honest in conversation can help you to avoid this mistake.
  3. Practice silence and find emotional trigger points.
  4. Good reading and Writing habits can help in this. While reading, read the content or questions more than once to understand the object of it. Also, while writing, when the content is completed read it once again to figure out the mistakes.
  5. Being more organized in your work. While working focus on preparation, and divide the work into smaller steps so as not to miss any significant detail of the work. Being organized will bring stability in work and peace to the mind.

Research is still being conducted on this topic. A lot more has to be discovered to know the exact reason for this phenomenon.


Knowing yourself will solve this situation well. The more personnel will become aware of their pain, fear, guilt, and pleasure the easier it will come to handle such situations.

You can read these books to avoid silly mistakes

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