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Stärcke, A. (1929). Conscience and the Role of Repetition. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:183-192.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:183-192

Conscience and the Role of Repetition

August Stärcke

§ 1. Hallucination is one of the most difficult, inaccessible and for us psychiatrists mysterious of phenomena. We shall never understand anything about it unless we assume that everyone is continually hallucinating but that the hallucinated images are obscured by the crude brightness of the projections made by the sense-organs, just as the light of the stars is obscured by day. The problem then arises: What is the force which in certain individuals lends such a resisting power to hallucination that it maintains itself in the midst of sense-perceptions? It might be one of two things: (a) the sensory stimuli might be dulled, e.g. through narcissism, or (b) the energy or energies poured out in hallucination might be peculiarly strong.

With regard to the second possibility, we know that, as a result of hallucinatory commands, people may attack others or may commit suicide, any logical objection being quite useless. The voices often give expression to a sense of guilt, they utter reproaches or abuse which might have proceeded from conscience, and the hallucinatory commands are carried out with the energy and moral satisfaction which would normally accompany a sense of duty. It seems that conscience must make at any rate an important contribution to the driving power behind hallucinations. The fact that the trend of hallucinatory commands is so often anti-social, whilst we are accustomed otherwise to regard conscience as a pro-social faculty, cannot be explained by the simple assertion that hallucinations and conscience are both aftereffects of the Oedipus complex or of the earliest object-attachments in general.

In the following pages my endeavour is to give yet another explanation of what Freud told us long ago about conscience and to build thereby one more bridge from Freud to Semon and again, to Pavolv. Perhaps, too, I shall be able here and there to contribute something fresh, even though it be really only an application of principles laid down by Freud.

§ 2. Conscience is that which restricts our freedom from within.

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