The Freudian Slips Game

What is a Freudian slip? In The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901), Sigmund Freud explores "slips of the tongue" and "slips of the pen" as examples of errors made in communication which, he argues, are caused by the Unconscious welling up and breaking through repressive structures. Thus, he asserts that "It is a frequent occurrence for the idea one wants to withhold to be precisely the one which forces its way through in the form of a slip of the tongue" (64). In other words, when we make a slip of the tongue we actually say what we really wanted to say, but were trying to keep hidden.

Freud's predecessors had defined two causes for such errors: the relation of a word to other words immediately around it and the relation of a word to other influences outside this context. They outlined different kinds of "slips" created by: transposition; anticipation; perserveration; contamination; substitution (Psychopathology 53-54). However, where the earlier researchers claim that such slips are created by the relation of words to each other in the sentence, Freud suggests that there is also an underlying psychological reason for the error.

Whether we agree with Freud's insistence on an underlying psychological cause for all errors or not, we can adopt and redefine the definitions he uses to create a list of kinds of accidental errors which occur on the manuscript page – slips of the pen. These are:


words are written the wrong way round


expectation of a later word affects an earlier one


a word (or part of it) is repeated without intention


a non-existent word is created by an error


one word is used in place of another


a word is missed out by mistake

Because MS A is a copied text in the hands of two people we can compare their accidental errors on the page.

To play the Freudian Slips Game simply bring up a list of all accidental errors on the page of MS A by clicking below. Then, work down the list and decide which you think could be Freudian slips and why.

Click here to return to the manuscript text and see the possible Freudian slips highlighted:

If you would like to read an analysis of some of the slips which do appear to be Freudian click here: