C an we ever really know ourselves, let alone other people? For Sigmund Freud and his followers, our lives are shaped by forces we are totally unaware of. Although we think we're in charge, we just keep repeating the same blunders without knowing it.
Like a broken record, we choose jobs we don't enjoy, we fall out with friends and we alienate our partners.
Sometimes we are forced to realise that something is awry: This, Freud believed, is the unconscious at work. Freud's fascination with the unconscious was triggered by his work as a neurologist.
In case after case, he found symptoms that did not behave as anatomy dictated. The distribution of pain or the loss of sensation ought to have Introjection psychoanalysis and sexuality the medical, biological map. Instead it was as if these bodies obeyed a different anatomy, made up of words and ideas. In one case, a boy's hand froze after his mother urged him
Introjection psychoanalysis and sexuality sign a letter denouncing his father in a divorce: Why couldn't the boy just have refused to sign the letter?
For Freud, the unconscious was inherently conflictual, and in this example, the boy may have felt both the wish to sign and not to sign the letter.
This would have stirred up his oedipal conflict with his father and the guilt that went with it.
The symptom allowed him not to sign and, through the physical pain of the paralysis, punished him for his guilty wish. Contradictory thoughts generate tensions in our minds, and symptoms in our bodies. Through listening carefully to his patients, Freud discovered that our conscious thought is just the tip of the iceberg: The other major discovery Freud made at the same time was about our need to rationalise.
If a hypnotised subject is told there is no furniture in a room, and then instructed to cross it, he will naturally Introjection psychoanalysis and sexuality the furniture. When asked why he took such an odd route, rather than admit the existence of the furniture he will invent false explanations: Rather than seeing these false explanations as restricted to the hypnotic state, Freud believed that they were a basic feature of the human ego.
Although we might not crash into furniture, we spend every day deceiving ourselves about Introjection psychoanalysis and sexuality we do things. We tell ourselves we love this person because of some inner quality, rather than because they share some trait with our mother. We think we get angry with our bosses because they are unreasonable, without noticing it is because they are echoing the behaviour of our father.
We are excessively kind to other people, not realising Introjection psychoanalysis and sexuality is overcompensation against our wish to harm them.
The world of the unconscious isn't nice. It's all about the sexuality and violence directed to those closest to us. These thoughts are unbearable, so we repress them. But repression is nearly always incomplete: By taking these strange phenomena seriously, we can be led back to our unconscious desires.
Making this kind of connection can hardly ever happen through armchair introspection, and that is why Freud had to invent a new technique to access the unconscious. The patient would lie on a couch and "free associate". As they said anything that came to mind, repetitive motifs would emerge, and little details would surface that allowed connections to be made.
Repressed ideas seeking representation would use the most inconspicuous trivia to smuggle themselves past our psychical censorship. With dreams, for example, it is often the tiniest, seemingly trivial details that turn out to have the greatest significance.
Psychoanalysis was thus a strange kind of conversation. The patient would be speaking on a couch to a they couldn't see, following the associative threads of their discourse, however meaningless or random they seemed. Where many other therapies offered a straight face-to-face chat,
Introjection psychoanalysis and sexuality advice and guidance, here was something else. Analysis didn't even claim to offer cure or happiness.
Freud compared it with a train ticket - an access to the unconscious - which we can either use or discard. Yet it became "Introjection psychoanalysis and sexuality" to Freud and his colleagues that there is much more to the psyche than what we repress. The id, for example, was made up of drives that never fully became part of the unconscious.
Later analysts explored those areas of our psychical life that were buried even deeper than the repressed. Some material, they thought, could never be accessed through ideas or images, yet caused us the most intense suffering and misery.
Its effects could be seen in problems such as drug addictions and alcoholism. Distancing himself from Freud, Carl Jung felt that there had been too much emphasis on personal history at the expense of collective human history. If you talk to your analyst about your mother, it is not simply your own mother but also a representation at an unconscious level of everything we understand by "mother".
Jung called these universal forms "archetypes" and believed that we can never know them directly. He encouraged the study of myth, folklore, religion and dreaming to learn more about archetypes, and he saw therapy as involving an organic process of self-realisation he termed "individuation". Later analysts such as Jacques Lacan emphasised not only symbolic forms but their absence. For them, Introjection psychoanalysis and sexuality was the non-existence archetypes that gave rise to human invention, creativity and neurosis.
Since there was no archetype of birth or death, the child must invent solutions for him or herself. As psychoanalysis became part of popular culture, the analyst was often pictured as a kind of detective: Yet Freud recognised that things were hardly so simple.
Human beings tend to cling to their symptoms and suffering and are usually loth to give them up. There is a powerful pull to self-destruction, a kind of masochism and pleasure in pain that Freud called the "death drive.
Melanie Klein believed that the unconscious was formed from a complex set of processes of introjection and projection, while Lacan thought Introjection psychoanalysis and sexuality it was created through speech, the words that are imposed on us in our childhood. We act out scripts without knowing it, while at the same time a crucial area of our mental life is governed by an unrepresentable and unbearable domain that we only ever encounter fleetingly: Where Kleinians tend to interpret the relationship between analyst and analysand systematically, Lacanians don't believe that they know more than the analysand.
For Lacan, the analyst knows very little: Klein became the most influential theorist in British psychoanalysis while Lacan's work has held sway worldwide. Jungian analysis and the new relational psychoanalysis are also flourishing. Despite more than years of research into the unconscious, it is still an unpalatable idea to most people.
The idea that we might not know what we are thinking and feeling is too big a blow to our narcissism. We like to believe that we are in control of our lives, and psychoanalytic ideas still arouse the greatest resistance. Getting to know one's own unconscious is never easy. It will mean becoming less familiar with ourselves, and questioning the false rationalisations that we have lived by.