Unconsciousness

Unconsciousness

Unconsciousness

Unconsciousness

Excerpt

Two principal methods of unraveling the tangled skeins of a problem like the nature of unconscious processes are available, the clinical and the experimental. Added to these two scientific procedures is a third artistic or common-sense attack on the question, the judgment of insightful individuals upon the nature of the phenomena. This last might be considered a sort of clinical procedure, because it is based on the experiences of these individuals with their fellow men. An example of such intuitive insight which has often been referred to is Nietzsche's aphorism on forgetting, which presaged by many years the psychoanalytic theory of repression (cf. Chapter X, p. 250). Such inspired interpretations of obscure phenomena have been the forerunners of many of the important discoveries of psychological science as well as many of its notorious fallacies.

A more careful technique for arriving at basic explanations of a question like the nature of unconscious processes is the clinical compilation of numerous cases. This approach studies the patient as a whole, but has the disadvantage of being unable to control his behavior carefully by putting him in various situations and watching his reactions to them. Such use of controls is possible only in laboratory experimentation, which is therefore the most certain method. Its greatest fault lies in the necessity of limiting any one experimental investigation to a single aspect of the behavior of the persons being studied, so neglecting the fact that they are total individuals.

The first clues concerning the operation of unconscious processes have come, for the most part since 1878, from the insights of such men as Charcot, Breuer, Janet, Freud, Jung, and Adler, but most of the present understanding of them is based on clinical evidence. Though as late as 1928 it was true that unconsciousness had been . . .

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