Freud’s “Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning”: its roots and development
To contextualise the way in which Freud’s paper influenced his theoretical and clinical posture, Antonino Ferro first starts by summarising briefly what he considers the main points of the “Two principles” paper. For Freud the unconscious is the source of drive energy that is at the source of psychic conflict. The unconscious, conceived in this manner is continuously being created. So for Ferro, following W. R. Bion, the aim of psychoanalysis is not to unveil the unconscious but to foster the development of mental functions that will transform the sensory data into alpha elements that can be used for thinking. The alpha function will then become the “great elaborator of sensoriality, and whose significant factors will be attention, notation, and memory, alongside many other that are unknown”. In Bion, the dream is no longer the realm of a hallucinatory realisation of desire.