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A quote about depression wrongly attributed to the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud has been circulating online, with hundreds of shares on social media.

According to a Facebook post, Mr Freud said: “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, surrounded by assholes.”

Full Fact could find no evidence that Mr Freud ever said this.

As has been pointed out by others, including the fact checking organisation Snopes, it’s unlikely that Mr Freud, who was born in 1856 and died in 1939, would have used this kind of language.

The Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna also confirmed that Mr Freud is almost certainly not responsible for the quote, telling Snopes: “There is no written evidence nor any other reliable source confirming that this would be a Freud quote. Also the wording speaks against Sigmund Freud.”

The quote has also been misattributed to the cyberpunk author William Gibson, however he himself has previously denied ever saying this, tweeting in 2018: “This is misattributed to me. I didn’t write it. It’s obviously funny on first glance, but not really smart about depression, [in my opinion.]”

Snopes reports that the website Quote Investigator, which looks into viral quotes like this one, has linked the earliest appearance of the quote to a Twitter account with the username “@debihope.”

The account is currently suspended, meaning the original tweet is no longer visible on Twitter, however it can be viewed on the digital internet archive the Wayback Machine.

The tweet, which was posted in 2010, reads: “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

Furthermore, @debihope has previously claimed that the quote is indeed her own, replying to a tweet from Quote Investigator in 2014 to claim that it “popped right out of my own head and [was] based on a past boyfriend.”

Fake and misattributed quotes are a common source of misinformation on social media. We have previously checked incorrect quotes from public figures including Frida Kahlo, Albert Einstein, John Lennon and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Image courtesy of janeb13.


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