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American Imago 61.3 (2004) 257-289

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The Hidden Soul:

The Growth of the Unconscious in Philosophy, Psychology, Medicine, and Literature, 1750-1900


To have ideas and yet not be conscious of them seems to be a contradiction, for how can we know that we have them if we are not conscious of them? Still we can be indirectly conscious of having an idea, even though we may not be directly aware of it. . . . The fact that the realm of our sense perceptions and feelings, of which we are unconscious, though it is past doubt that we indeed have them, that is, the realm of obscure ideas . . . should be immeasurable, while the clear ones make up but an infinitely small part of the same perceptions and feelings, that on the great map of our emotions only a few sites are illuminated, all of this can make us marvel at our own being.


Nothing prevents me from returning, via the ego I am now conscious of, to a time when it was not yet conscious of itself, from assuming the existence of a realm beyond the presently given consciousness, that is, an activity that does not appear by itself but instead enters my consciousness through its results. Besides conscious and . . . free activity there must exist another unconscious one through which, disregarding the limitless expression of freedom, something comes about involuntarily and perhaps even against the will of the acting subject. [End Page 257]


We regard the rich expanse of the ego all too narrowly when we leave out the enormous realm of the unconscious, this genuine inner Africa. Within the entire wide globe of memory, hardly a few illuminated mountaintops revolve at any one time in the mind; the rest of the world remains shrouded in their shadow. Were we completely conscious of ourselves, we would be our own creators and infinite. [Yet there is] something dark that is not our creation but instead our creator.


We live and feel just as much in dreams as in our waking moments; and we are both the one and the other; it is man's privilege to dream and know it. Up to now the usefulness of this has not been sufficiently explored. Dreaming is a life that, if added to the rest of our existence, becomes that which we call human life.


If we could still be surprised by phenomena that habit has rendered utterly familiar to us, we would surely feel astonishment and fright on thinking about the prodigious difference between these two alternating modes of existence: one in which we live, feel, and act with the consciousness and inner feeling of our existence, of our impressions, and our acts; whereas in the other, we live, feel, and act, often enough with the aid of the selfsame organs and apparently in the same way, without consciousness, without ego, without memory and remaining like strangers, in one of these modes of existence, to everything that we had experienced, felt, imagined or done in the other.


It is strange that the inner man should have been explored so poorly and so foolishly spoken of. So-called psychology is [End Page 258] another one of these masks that have occupied the sanctuary instead of the images of the real gods. . . . No one has had the idea of searching for yet unnamed forces, and of tracing their interrelations. Who knows what kind of marvelous and astonishing births remain to be discovered in ourselves?


Ideas become forces when they resist each other. This occurs when several contradictory ones encounter each other. . . . First of all: an older idea can be . . . for a time completely repressed. . . . Psychology is nothing but . . . the tracing of relations among perceptions by means of that which perception cannot reach. . . . Science knows more than experience: it can only know more because experience cannot be conceived of without assuming a hidden realm.


Everybody carries in his memory a general yet cohesive reminiscence of his earlier life that reaches into unconscious childhood. True...


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