The Unconscious
from Critical Terms
Literary Criticism, Fall, 99Psychoanalysis;
--cannot be pointed at; can only be "diagnosed."
--the reverse of consciousness

Making itself manifest through "gaps"--  unintended lapses in memory, slips of tongue, puns and dreams,

Three types of the unconscious

descriptive,--the conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious

dynamic,--the unconscious were a throbbing energy center, active and busy, but hidden from the Subject¡¦s conscious mind.

  • hydraulic metaphors: engery "flows,"¨ is "cathected"¨ (attached to an object), and pulsates; repressed thoughts "build up the pressure,"¨ and at times put enough pressure on the repression barrier so as to "leak through"; . .  .esire is "displaced" or "transferred"¨ to "relieve the tension"¨ which the intrusion of the trauma into the unconscious has caused.

and the systematic --id, ego, superego. The American-- move toward "ego psychology"; the French --a "return to the real Freud"

Literature and psychoanalysis:

for Freud, the story of Oedipus traces the unconscious wish of every (male) child: sexual union with the mother and a concomitant elimination of the father, so as to take his place. the "other" he seeks is in fact himself. ..notions such as "destiny," "fate," "self-knowledge," and the "other" are all interconnected as partaking of what psychoanalysis calls the unconscious.

Literature. .  . like a dream, uncovering deep, otherwise invisible workings of unconscious activity.

--a text is only a symptom of an author's psychological state. At its best, such an approach will ultimately tells us something about the author (his neurosis, obsessions, traumas, and so on), but it will tell us little about the text itself.

the conscious as the personal unconscious or the collective unconscious -- the racial memories of human past, which makes us respond to certain myths and stories in the same way.

These memories exist in the form of archetypes: patterns or images of repeated human experiences (such as birth, death, rebirth, the four seasons, and motherhood) that express themselves in our stories, our dreams

e.g. "The Uncanny"

heimlich-- "familiar," "homely," to "secret and hidden" to "dangerous and dreaded"

Freud explores the psychology of the uncanny on two levels of child development: the pre-oedipal stage of primary narcissism and oedipal-level castration fear.

primary narcissism -- double, reflection and shadow

castration fear-- the example of Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann. "The Sandman": tear the kids' eyes out to induce sleep.

In the unconscious, he represents the castrating oedipal father

Hoffman's story "The Sandman" -- Nathanael's fear of the Sandman=the lawyer=anybody whose business is related to eyes

This story is "uncanny," says Freud, because Nathanael's fear of the "sandman" is at once incomprehensible and strangely familiar: it partakes of the unconscious.

Psychoanalysis will provide the explanation for this fear, . .  .and thus neutralize the uncanniness of the story. Nathanael fears losing his eyes; but that fear is the displacement (and disguise) for another, more fundamental, fear: castration.

Eyes = male genitals

Now that we know this, F claims, the uncanny in the story dissolves. The text's  neurotic symptom, it would seem, has been  "cured."

criticism ---This way of viewing fictional texts-- as essentially symptoms, disguised shapes of unconscious fears or wishes . . . is frequently inadequate and unconvincing for students of literature. Moreover, there is something in the reader-critic that would like to keep some texts uncanny.  

the case study is then the narrative of a narrative which attempts to persuade readers of the accuracy of the reading.  

example--- a 40-yr-old patients slated to inherit ten million dollars on his ailing father's death dreamed that he was in love with the wife of an old friend.  Not seen his friend in years, never met his wife, only knew that the wife was a dancer as his own mother had been.

His friend---Mr. Zandemann

The maternal eye has an earlier, reflective, mirroring function, while the paternal eye is the source of later superego retribution for real or imagined transgressions.