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Ben Morgan goes after the unconscious

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“It is perhaps unfair to brand either Freud or the practice he helped to create as emotionally cold. Burno Bettelheim has written in spirited defense of the humanity and direct emotional appeal of Freud’s texts, and from the reading of a case history such as [well-regarded child psychoanalyst, Donald] Winnicot’s ‘The Piggle’ it is clear that a commitment to a psychoanalytic vocabulary does not necessarily preclude openness and warmth. Nevertheless there are aspects of both the theory and practice of psychoanalysis as elaborated by Freud that obstruct rather than facilitate the human encounter, fostering distance rather than nurturing development. Indeed the next section will show how the problematic aspects of Freud’s approach distort the very concepts that he developed to understand the experiences with which he was daily confronted, particularly in his conceptualization of the unconscious 
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During the last two decades, research in a number of areas of psychology and cognitive science has drawn attention to so-called subpersonal processes—that is, neurochemical or neurological processes that will necessarily stay below the threshold of our perceptual awareness because they contribute to the construction of our very sense of awareness or because they occur independently of our sense of awareness. The research draws attention, on the one hand, to a level of behavior on which our normal habits of acknowledging or denying responsibility don’t function, and, on the other hand, to areas for which there are everyday habits of negotiation and acknowledgement that are comparable to, and indeed useful substitutes for, the psychoanalytic tools of free association and the talking cure. A brief and selective consideration of recent findings can clarify the limits of the Freudian model of the unconscious and so prepare the way for an exploration, in the concluding chapter, of ways in which, dis-burdened of Freud’s model of the unconscious mind, we can return to the work of Freud and his contemporaries around 1900 to develop and everyday language for acknowledging what we unwittingly or inattentively do to and with other people.” – Ben Morgan, “On Becoming God”, 187-188.

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Written by Joe

February 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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