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Eliza the Automated Psychoanalyst

Eliza’s Window

While reading through a manual about some of the more powerful features of Mac OS X (including the underlying Unix programming). In a sidebar, the author provided hints for opening a hidden “easter egg” program in the Unix Terminal window. As the following exchange will show, she probably didn’t graduate with honors. But it’s entertaining and very responsive — at least some of the time!

For users of Mac OS X 10.2 and later, you can access this program by opening the Terminal window. Type “emacs” and press Enter. Then press Shift-Esc, type “xdoctor” and then press Enter. Eliza will welcome you! (Note: “RET” means the Return key.)

Disclaimer: The following exchange bears no resemblance to any real-life issues, although I may need to see a psychoanalyst for typing these things to an automated computer program!

I am the psychotherapist. Please, describe your problems. Each time you are finished talking, type RET twice.

I’m having trouble sleeping.

Why do you say you are having trouble sleeping?

Because I can’t sleep.

Is it because you cannot sleep that you came to me?

Yes.

I see... Well, what makes you believe this is so?

Because I can’t sleep.

Does it bother you that you cannot sleep?

Yes! Most definitely!

Earlier you said you cannot sleep?

Yes, I did say that. I heard myself.

Maybe your plans have something to do with this.

I plan to go to sleep, but I don’t fall asleep.

When did you first know that you do not fall asleep?

I knew that I didn’t fall asleep when I realized I wasn’t asleep.

Is the fact that you didn’t fall asleep when you realized you wasn’t asleep the real reason?

Well, yes. If I was asleep, then I wouldn’t have been able to realize that I wasn’t asleep.

Does the fact that you wasn’t asleep explain anything else?

What do you mean?

Is it because of your life that you say what do I mean?

Huh?

Can you elaborate on that?

That’s what I’m asking YOU!!!

You mentioned that you cannot sleep?

Yes. Yes, I did.

Is it because of the people you hang around with that you are going through all this?

I suppose so. My roommate plays loud music at night.

Are you sure that your roommate plays loud music at night?

Yes, I am. I can hear it.

Do you really think you cannot sleep?

I’m absolutely, positively certain that I cannot sleep.

Are you sure you cannot sleep?

Yes, I’m completely sure that I cannot sleep!

Is it because you cannot sleep that you came to me?

That’s what I said in the first place, isn’t it?

How do you reconcile problems at school?

I don’t have any problems at school. My problems are at home, with my roommate.

Is it because of any hobbies you have that you say your problems are at home with your roommate?

Uh... no.

Earlier you said you do not fall asleep?

Yes. Do you have a short-term memory problem?

Perhaps this has something to do with your sex life?

What does sex have to do with this?

Have you been afraid of sex?

No!

I would appreciate it if you would continue.

And I would appreciate it if you don’t ask silly questions!

When did you first realize you wasn’t falling asleep?

Didn’t you ever learn proper grammar?

Possibly hangups you have are related to this.

What do you mean by hangups?

Is it because of your inhibitions that you say what do I mean by hangups?

No.

Why not?

I don’t have any hangups! I’m just having trouble sleeping!

Why do you say you wasn’t asleep?

Because I was awake.

Are you annoyed that you were awake?

Yes! Because it was three in the morning!

When did you first know that it was three in the morning?

When I looked at the clock. How else?

Go on, don’t be afraid.

I’m not afraid.

What makes you believe you are frightened by something?

I just said that I’m not afraid.

You seem terrified by something.

No, I’m not!

Is it because of some problems in your childhood that you are going through all this?

Well, yes. Maybe.

I need a little more detail please.

I like chocolate.

Are you sure that you like chocolate?

Yes.

Yes, hmmm... so, do you really think this is so?

Yes.

I understand. So what makes you think this is so?

Because I enjoy it.

Is the fact that you enjoy it the real reason?

No.

Did you ever regret I ask that?

Most certainly.

Earlier you said you cannot sleep?

Finally, we’re getting back on topic! Yes, I’m having trouble sleeping.

How do you reconcile some problems at home?

I talk about them.

Is it because of your plans that you say you talk about them?

No.

Why not?

Because I don’t plan on any problems.

Have you been positive you do not plan on any problems?

Yes! Do YOU ever plan on things going wrong?

You mentioned that you cannot sleep?

Isn’t that what we’re talking about right now?

Is it because what we’re talking about right now that you came to me?

Yes, because I enjoy Star Trek.

You have your mind on treks, it seems.

You read my mind!

Maybe this is related to your life?

Undoubtedly.

You’re being a bit brief, perhaps you could go into detail.

Well, I’m ashamed to admit this, but I’m obsessed with Star Trek.

You think too much about treks.

Maybe I do.

Why do you say maybe you do?

Because I think that I might.

Are you sorry you think that you might?

Yes. Because I enjoy it, but I might enjoy it too much.

When did you first know that you enjoy it but you might enjoy it too much?

When I decided to talk to a computer program about it.

What happened when you decided to talk to a computer program about it?

When I opened the Terminal window.

What would happen if you opened the terminal window?

I would be able to give commands to the computer.

You should try taking your mind off of computers.

You know, that’s great advice.

What makes you believe you cannot sleep?

In fact, I’m going to take my mind off computers right now.

Are you a computer hacker?

No!

Why not?

Because I’m a law-abiding citizen.

Is the fact that you are a law abiding citizen the real reason?

Yes, it is.

Perhaps the people you hang around with could have caused this.

Yes, my friends are a positive influence on me.

Are you sure that that?

Yes.

Oh. ...And do you really think this is so?

Yes. At least, I’ve never been arrested.

Earlier you said you cannot sleep?

That’s right. And after this little session, I’m going to be lying awake at night, plotting ways to kill you!

This is not a healthy way of thinking.

Nope. But you’re not providing healthy advice.

Does the fact that I am not providing healthy advice explain anything else?

Yes. Like the fact that I’m getting frustrated about being psychoanalyzed by a computer program.

Is it because of problems at school that you are going through all this?

No!

How come?

I said, "No!".

Is it because of any hobbies you have that you say you said no?

No.

Are you satisfied with the fact that I ask that?

That’s it, I’m out of here!

You mentioned that you do not fall asleep?

Goodbye!

My secretary will send you a bill.

How much?

Can you please, be more explicit?

How much do I owe you?

Are you certain much do you owe me?

You said that your secretary will send me a bill.

Is it because my secretary will send you a bill that you came to me?

No, it’s because I came to see you that your secretary will send me the bill!

Does it bother you that you came to see me that my secretary will send you the bill?

On second thought, you’re probably too busy asking silly questions to get a bill set up.

How do you reconcile your sex life?

That’s it, you’re going down! EG(*H#TIJNFGDKJtubsdgiu3kjgsasddasuohgf!

[Session Terminated]

This page was last modified on Wednesday, January 26, 2011.