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Gonchar, J. (1992). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990: Why Instinctual Impulses Can't Be Unconscious: An Exploration of Freud's Cognitivism. Jerome C. Wakefield. Pp. 265-288.. Psychoanal Q., 61:317-318.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990: Why Instinctual Impulses Can't Be Unconscious: An Exploration of Freud's Cognitivism. Jerome C. Wakefield. Pp. 265-288.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:317-318

Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990: Why Instinctual Impulses Can't Be Unconscious: An Exploration of Freud's Cognitivism. Jerome C. Wakefield. Pp. 265-288.

Joel Gonchar

This paper is an examination of an assertion made by Freud in The Unconscious that an instinctual impulse cannot be unconscious, and that instinctual impulses can never become objects of consciousness. The author attempts to give us insight into


WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.
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Freud's views about the nature of instinctual impulses and in this way to answer critics who consider Freud's matapsychological concepts to be outmoded "biologizing." In fact, Wakefield sees affinities between Freud's views about instincts and some aspects of modern cognitive psychology. He expresses the opinion that what Freud meant about instinctual impulses vis-à-vis consciousness or unconsciousness was that it would be a "category mistake" to apply these criteria. In other words, the categories are inappropriate to the thing being categorized. Wakefield makes the point that the categories, conscious and unconscious, should be applied only to mental contents while instinctual impulses are not mental contents but rather govern the way mental contents function and interact. He goes on to describe Freud as a cognitivist because for both Freud and modern cognitivists mental contents are structured as mental representations which are capable of functioning without awareness. What has been confusing about Freud's theory of instinctual impulses has been his treating them as if they were mental contents and therefore capable of representation by themselves and not necessarily by ideation. The difference between contemporary cognitivism and Freud's cognitivism lies in the absence of motivation in the former, which is influenced by the computer metaphor of the mind. Freud's metapsychology of instinctual impulses adds another major input into the system of cognitions by adding bodily processes as a causal property of certain cognitions.


WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.
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Article Citation

Gonchar, J. (1992). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990. Psychoanal. Q., 61:317-318

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WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.