A PSYCHOANALYTIC APPROACH TO PERCEPTION
Whatever the means used to gain knowledge of the world, whether it be the sense organs or thinking, the problem is that knowledge has to fulfil certain conditions in order to lead to what Freud calls consciousness – that is to say, it has to acquire the characteristics of a form that is perceptible to consciousness. However psychical it may be, consciousness is nonetheless looked on by Freud as a ‘sense organ for the apprehension of psychical qualities’ (Freud, 1900: 574). The subject is far from being simple, for excitatory material ‘ﬂows’,he continues, ‘into the Cs. sense organ from the Pcpt. system,whose excitation . . . is probably submitted to a fresh revision before it becomes a conscious sensation, and from the interior of the apparatus itself, whose quantitative processes are felt qualitatively in the pleasure-unpleasure series when, subject to certain modiﬁcations, they make their way to consciousness’ (p. 616). In both cases there is a transformation of the initial product; the unknowable is generated at all levels:
In its innermost nature it is as much unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is as incompletely presented by the data of consciousness as is the external world by the communication of our senses organs.