King of spin | From the Observer | guardian.co.uk
The uncertainty that Freud provokes is perhaps not unrelated to the fact that his great-grandfather was the founder of psychoanalysis. Poised as it is between ‘fraud’ and ‘pseud’, the name Freud has enough doubtful connotations without the added weight of its history. But the familial shift through four generations from psychiatric doctor to spin doctor is too tempting to ignore.
Just as Sigmund was concerned with the recesses of the mind, so Matthew operates in the background of the media. Psychoanalysis has long been viewed as a questionable ‘science’ and, similarly, public relations is dogged by the perception that it is an unnecessary invention. It might be said, in addition, that both Freuds know a thing or two about superegos.
The great-grandson tells a story about being introduced to well-known New York publicist Bobby Zarem. ‘Are you any relation?’ Zarem asked. When Freud acknowledged that he was, Zarem was immediately keen to meet up. ‘My shrink’s out of town,’ he said. ‘I need to see you at once.’
As it turned out, Zarem introduced Freud to Robert Earl, the proprietor of the Hard Rock Café, with whom he would later collaborate on Planet Hollywood. But his illustrious name, while obviously bearing advantages, is something which Freud says he has not always appreciated. ‘My motivation for the first five years of my career was about trying to have a Christian name as well as a surname. My Christian name was really an irrelevance. I was somebody’s great-grandson or somebody’s son.’