- Introduction: Know Thyself
- Intellectual Prehistory: Introduction
- Psychoanalytic Theory: A Historical Reconstruction
- From Recognition to Intersubjectivity: Hegel and Psychoanalysis
- Schopenhauer and Freud
- From <i>Geschlechtstrieb</i> to <i>Sexualtrieb</i>: the Originality of Freud’s Conception of Sexuality
- A Better Self: Freud and Nietzsche on the Nature and Value of Sublimation
- Twentieth-Century Engagements: Introduction
- Merleau-Ponty and Psychoanalysis
- Wittgenstein and Psychoanalysis
- ‘In Psychoanalysis Nothing Is True but the Exaggerations’: Freud and the Frankfurt School
- Ricœur’s Freud
- Clinical Theory: Introduction
- Imagination and Reason, Method and Mourning in Freudian Psychoanalysis
- ‘A Ritual of Discourse’: Conceptualizing and Reonceptualizing the Analytic Relationship
- Symbolism, the Primary Process, and Dreams: Freud’s Contribution
- Integrating Unconscious Belief
- Making the Unconscious Conscious
- Phenomenology and Science: Introduction
- Complexities in the Evaluation of the Scientific Status of Psychoanalysis
- Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience
- How Should We Understand the Psychoanalytic Unconscious?
- A New Kind of Song: Psychoanalysis as Revelation
- Body Memory and the Unconscious
- Aesthetics: Introduction
- On Richard Wollheim’s Psychoanalytically Informed Philosophy of Art
- Literary Form and Mentalization
- Psychoanalysis and Film
- Religion: Introduction
- Psychoanalysis and Religion
- Psychoanalytic Thinking on Religious Truth and Conviction
- The No-Thing of God: Psychoanalysis of Religion After Lacan
- Ethics: Introduction
- Hiding From Love: The Repressed Insight in Freud’s Account of Morality
- Human Excellence and Psychic Health in Psychoanalysis
- Evolution, Childhood, and the Moral Self
- Politics and Society: Introduction
- Psychoanalysis, Politics, and Society: What Remains Radical in Psychoanalysis?
- Epistemic Anxiety
- Psychoanalysis in the Twenty-First Century: Does Gender Matter?
- Political Philosophy in Freud: War, Destruction, and the Critical Faculty
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter reviews the debate between ‘realist’ and ‘constructivist’ understandings of the psychoanalytic unconscious. To oversimplify, realists hold that unconscious mental states exist in the analysand’s mind fully formed and with determinate intentional content, independent of consciousness, and these are discovered in analysis. Constructivists (including relationalists and intersubjectivists) hold that the unconscious meaning of clinical material does not exist ‘preorganized’ in the analysand’s mind, but is constructed, not discovered, through the analytic relationship. The chapter argues that the debate is multiply confused. For example, different meanings of ‘psychoanalysis’ and ‘constructivism’ are at play, and a number of central arguments rest on misunderstandings of complex philosophical positions concerning the status of science and the nature of human knowledge. Once these confusions are removed, an understanding of the psychoanalytic unconscious that retains the strengths of both realism and constructivism presents itself.
Michael Lacewing, Department of Philosophy, Heythrop College, University of London, London, UK
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