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De Monchaux, C. (1962). Thinking and Negative Hallucination. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:311-314.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:311-314

Thinking and Negative Hallucination

Cecily De Monchaux

The psycho-analytic theory of thinking is based on the model of the mind which Freud (3) used in his dream theory. He conceived of a telescope-like apparatus, in which the spatial ordering of systems of lenses corresponded to the temporal arrangement of psychical systems. In the normal waking state of the adult, excitation was said to be transmitted from the perceptual system, through conscious and unconscious memory systems and a censorship system, proceeding to the preconscious and thence to action (motor) systems. In infancy, hallucinatory psychosis, and sleep, however, excitation was said to move in a backward direction, inner needs arousing the apparatus to transmit excitation, not towards the motor, but towards the sensory end. The result of this 'regression' was said to be a re-excitation of specific memory images, which, unless corrected by a 'current of excitation flowing in the opposite sense' (i.e. towards the motor end, as in maturity, sanity, and waking life) produced a hallucinatory revival of perceptual images, as in dreams. The prototype of such hallucination is the baby's (theoretical) image of the breast on the (theoretical) first occasion of hunger arousal subsequent to the (theoretical) first feed. This internal breast imago—a memory image of a past gratifier—serves as a substitute object, and like the discharge of effect which accompanies it, tides the baby over a time of distress. It is probable that the memory image always retains something of this tension-reducing function, but this comes to be subordinated to its signal functions.

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