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Britton, R. (1995). Psychic Reality And Unconscious Belief. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:19-23.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:19-23

Psychic Reality And Unconscious Belief Related Papers

Ronald Britton

The unconscious is the true psychical reality; in its innermost nature it is as much unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is as incompletely presented by the data of consciousness as is the external world by the communications of our sense organs (1900p. 613).

In this passage in The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud anticipates his later concept of an ‘internal world’ and the notion of the ego as ‘a frontier creature’ (Freud, 1923p. 36 and p. 56).

Taking the ego to be a creature of the frontier between the internal and external world, I suggest that belief is to psychic reality what perception is to material reality. Belief gives the force of reality to that which is psychic, just as perception does to that which is physical. Like perception, belief is an active process and like perception it is influenced by desire, fear, and expectation; and just as perceptions can be denied, so beliefs can be disavowed. Beliefs have consequences. They arouse feelings, influence perceptions and promote actions, unlike ideas and phantasies to which belief is not attached. Subjective belief precedes objective evaluation. Objective evaluation may use external perception, usually described as reality-testing, or it may involve correlation internally with known facts or related beliefs. The internal objective evaluation of a subjective belief is particularly crucial in situations where direct perceptual confirmation is not available. It depends on two processes, both of which provoke resistance.

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