Freud and the Unconscious

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Silent Matter: Interpreting The Freudian ‘Unconscious’

Few theories hold more intrigue than that of human psychology. Throughout history, many have sought to decode the structure of the mind. Amongst those who were determined to investigate the nature of psychic material, one of the most prominent remains Sigmund Freud (also known as “the archaeologist of the mind”). Freud had very pronounced views on the innate components of human psychology, within which one idea remained central - the ‘unconscious’ mind; he uses this concept to make sense of phenomenons such as that of parapraxes. In his essay, “The Unconscious”, Freud introduces a unique perception of human thought, action, interaction and experience. He details a state of dualism that exists in our psychical life in stating, “consciousness includes only a small content, so that the greater part of what we call conscious knowledge must in any case be for very considerable periods of time in a state of latency, that is to say, of being psychically unconscious” (2). He argues that although we are blind to our unconscious mind, it determines a greater part of our behavioural being and participates just as much as psychical activity as our conscious mind. Freud also adds, “In every instance where repression has succeeded in inhibiting the development of affects, we term those affects ‘unconscious’” (7). He states that the unconscious is where repressed desires are stored, ideas that are suppressed from surfacing into the realm of our awareness e.g. we recognise our emotions - we ‘feel’ - because they have moved from amongst the elements of the unconscious mind to the conscious mind. The notion of “what you see is not all there is”, of the uncertainty of appearance or self-knowledge is a message that identifies very well with Freud’s theory of the unconscious. Freud’s arguments entail that a significant reality (and “most importantly” he would most likely say) exists in that which is intangible. He claimed that...
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