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Freud: The Unconscious Mind

Hercules Bantas

Published: 2011
Tag(s): "dream interpretation" Freud subconscious essay ego id psychoanalysis dream dreams neurosis
Understanding Freud: The Unconscious Mind

Hercules Bantas

A Reluctant Geek Academic Guide
Epub version published by Smashwords
All other versions published by The Reluctant Geek through Smashwords
Melbourne, Australia
Copyright Hercules Bantas 2011

In Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis: Volume 1, Freud argues that there
is a level of thought within a person that he or she is unaware exists, or more
accurately, that he or she is not conscious of, which he labels the 'unconscious'.
A person's unconscious mind, although separate from his or her conscious
thoughts and actions, has a powerful influence on the way that he or she
behaves. Freud uses his concept of the unconscious mind to explain phenomena
such as slips of the tongue, forgotten names, as well as dreams and neurosis, as
well as using it as the focus of psychoanalysis.
Freud argues that the unconscious mind is where the mind places repressed
sexual desires to keep them from a person's conscious mind,
This second thesis, which psychoanalysis puts forward as one of its findings,
is an assertion that instinctual impulses which can only be described as sexual,
both in the narrower and wider sense of the word, play an extremely large and
never hitherto appreciated part in the causation of nervous and mental diseases
(Freud, 1973, p. 47).
Freud's justification for probing the workings of the human mind and for
gaining an understanding of the unconscious mind and its role in the 'causation'
of neurotic diseases and behaviours is so that psychoanalysis can move towards
methods of treatment for these conditions (1973, p. 40). He argues that the
unconscious mind, which is a repository for 'inappropriate' sexual desires that
are stored away from a person's conscious mind as a defence mechanism, is the
source of many of these neuroses and behaviours. If the repressed desires in the
unconscious are powerful enough, they see expression as mental phenomena that
range in severity from mild 'slips of the tongue', to serious neuroses and mental
illness. He also argues that the unconscious mind is active in the generation of
dreams, which can relieve some of the pressure caused by repressed desires.
Freud begins his arguments for the existence of an unconscious with an
explicit definition of what it is,
I now propose that we should introduce a change into our nomenclature which
will give us more freedom of movement. Instead of speaking of 'concealed',
inaccessible', or 'ungenuine', let us adopt the correct description and say
'inaccessible to the dreamer's consciousness' or 'unconscious'. I mean nothing
else by this than what may be suggested to you when you think of a word that
has escaped you or the disturbing purpose in a parapraxis - that is to say, I mean
nothing else than 'unconscious at the moment' (Freud, 1973, p. 143).
He theorizes that the unconscious is a hidden and inaccessible part of a
person's mind. That is not to say that the unconscious is fixed and unchanging.
Rather, elements move between the conscious and unconscious mind, depending
upon the situation in which a person finds him or herself. It is the unconscious
mind that causes phenomena such as slips of the tongue and forgotten names.
Freud labels these phenomena 'parapraxes' (parapraxis is the singular), which is
a translation from the German of Feblleistung that roughly translates as 'faulty
achievement', or 'faulty function' (Bettelheim, 1983, p. 86).

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