Freud: A Critical Re-Evaluation of His Theories

By Reuben D. Fine | Go to book overview

Chapter IV. THE UNCONSCIOUS

When the International Psychoanalytical Association was founded in 1910, the goals of the Association were declared to be to:

...foster and further the science of psychoanalysis founded by Freud, both as a pure discipline of psychology and in its application to medicine and the mental sciences....30

The "pure discipline of psychology" which Freud had in mind, and which may be called the first psychoanalytic system, rested on three bases. These were: the unconscious, the libido theory, and transference and resistance as the basis of psychotherapy. The major works of Freud in which these concepts were developed were published between 1900 and 1914, although in a number of cases various additions were made afterward.

The unconscious was always for Freud one of the major pillars of psychoanalytic psychology. In every one of his popular presentations of psychoanalysis, which were quite numerous, he devoted most space to a delineation of the unconscious. If he had to refer to psychoanalysis briefly, he would call it the psychology of the unconscious or the psychology of the depths. Much of the opposition to psychoanalysis he attributed to its discovery of the unconscious and the consequent blow to man's fond narcissistic belief that he is in complete control of himself.

It is vital to understand that the unconscious is a concept which provides a theoretical framework that ties together a number of clinical observations. It is not an anatomical concept; as Freud noted over and over again, it has no anatomical locale. It is not reified, that is, it is not transformed into some entity with an

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