Today @Shrink_at_Large Tweeted the link to a funny Simpsons video in which Marg sees a therapist to cure her flying phobia. In true Freudian style Marg lies on the couch and free associates. With the “help” of her therapist she’s able to trace her anxiety to a time when she caught her father working as a stewardess on a passenger jet. I say in true Freudian style because one of Freud’s most famous cases, The Wolf Man, was neurotic, according to Freud, chiefly because he’d intruded on his parents having sex. In fact Freud himself wrote about seeing his mother naked on a train, an image the young Freud found both disturbing and memorable. As with a great deal of Freud, what begins as theory turns out to be autobiography.
So the scene in which Marg intrudes on her father serving drinks has a pedigree. Interestingly Marg also remembers other train related trauma, such as the engines of her toy plane bursting into flames or being machine gunned by a crop duster whilst walking past a field of corn. These are discounted by her therapist in favour of the more significant trauma of seeing her father working his way along the aisle. Marg’s phobia only becomes apparent to us when the Simpsons are given free air tickets. These are to buy Homer’s silence after he crashes a plane whilst pretending to be a pilot (which he does to get a drink in a pilots only bar). Maybe it’s this parallel that leads to Marg’s crisis: all her life the phobia had served as a defence, enabling Marg to avoid planes and airports - and ultimately the memory of seeing her father serving cocktails on an economy airline.