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Talvitie, V. Ihanus, J. (2003). On the Nature of Repressed Contents: A Working-Through of John Searle's Critique. Neuropsychoanalysis, 5(2):133-142.

(2003). Neuropsychoanalysis, 5(2):133-142

On the Nature of Repressed Contents: A Working-Through of John Searle's Critique Related Papers

Vesa Talvitie, Lic. Psych. and Juhani Ihanus, Ph.D.

The philosopher John Searle has called Freud's idea about repressed contents “incoherent,” “factually empty,” and “implying dualism.” Thus he has been seen as a critic of psychoanalysis. This view is questioned in the present article. Searle shares the central ideas of psychoanalysis, and the differences between him and Freud are conceptual. Problems with unconscious meanings and mental contents of the repressed are treated here as philosophical, and the debate on this issue is suggested to have minor relevance for clinical data and psychoanalytic practice. The authors of this article prefer the terms “unconscious meaning preservation” and “meaning manipulation” instead of repressed contents. It is problematic to show how repressed contents would exist other than as neurophysiological structures. However, talk about repressed desires and memories is assessed as unavoidable and reasonable for psychoanalytic practice.

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