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Segal, J. (2013). Simon Boag: Freudian Repression, the Unconscious, and the Dynamics of Inhibition. London: Karnac, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-85575-738-7, 268pp, £21.99 (pbk.), £11.70 (ebk.).. Neuropsychoanalysis, 15(2):206-208.

(2013). Neuropsychoanalysis, 15(2):206-208

Simon Boag: Freudian Repression, the Unconscious, and the Dynamics of Inhibition. London: Karnac, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-85575-738-7, 268pp, £21.99 (pbk.), £11.70 (ebk.).

Review by:
Julia Segal

The problem with repression is that in order to repress something, we first have to be aware of it. If we are aware of it, it is not repressed. If it is repressed, how can we be aware of it? And repression is not something that can just be done, once and for all, because Freud is clear that what is repressed exerts a pressure to be known; it has to be constantly re-repressed. And yet we are unaware of it. How can this work?

Simon Boag looked at this question for his doctoral thesis, and in this book he gathers up the arguments for and against various responses. Freud himself found it difficult to explain; Sartre and many other eminent authors based some of their objections to psychoanalysis on such paradoxes, and it has troubled philosophers and scientists alike. Boag takes us through the objections and the explanations; the sections that work and the sections that do not. He teases out what remains of the theory when some of the illogicalities have been removed, and he uses neuroscience to create a sensible solution. His explanation is that we can know without knowing that we know, and he draws on current neuroscience research to back this up.

What I enjoy about books like this is the way people have, so many years later, found good neuroscientific backing for ideas that Freud discovered clinically, and which clinicians have been using for many years. As a clinician I have less problem than Freud did with the idea that we can know without knowing that we know; following his

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