Christopher Turner lays out the history of one of civilization’s most famous sofas:
It is hard to imagine an issue of the New Yorker without a cartoon featuring a psychoanalytic couch, behind which sits the analyst. Freud – who referred to the couch as an ottoman or examination bed – apparently disliked eye contact (he wasn’t much of a hypnotist). He couldn’t, he said, ‘put up with being stared at by other people for eight hours a day’. He could observe the analysand’s facial expressions, but they couldn’t be influenced by his, which, he said, helped ‘to prevent the transference from mingling with the patient’s associations’.
(Photo of Freud’s sofa by Robert Huffstutter)