chapter  2
18 Pages

“The unconscious” in psychoanalysis and neuropsychology

ByMark Solms

The consensus was not won by the arguments that Sigmund Freud set out in "The unconscious"; it derived from a different research tradition. Where Freud cited clinical psychopathological evidence, neuropsychological theorists independently postulated unconscious mental processes on the basis of clinical neuropathological evidence. It is true that Freud himself gradually came to recognise the inadequacy of his taxonomy, especially when he recognised that many ego processes, which deploy secondary processes and obey the reality principle, are dynamically unconscious. In contemporary neuropsychology, the unconscious is a repository of automatic and automatised information-processing capacities; it is a purely cognitive entity. Freud's use of the word "consciousness" refers mainly to secondary consciousness, that is to say, awareness of consciousness as opposed to consciousness itself. Secondary consciousness is given various other names by different theorists, such as "reflective" consciousness, "access" consciousness, "declarative" consciousness, "autonoetic" consciousness, "extended" consciousness, "higher-order" thought, etc.