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Natsoulas, T. (1989). Freud and Consciousness: III. The Importance of Tertiary Consciousness. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 12:97-123.

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(1989). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 12:97-123

Freud and Consciousness: III. The Importance of Tertiary Consciousness

Thomas Natsoulas, Ph.D. Author Information

The previous articles in this series (Natsoulas, 1984a, 1985b) addressed Freud's accounts of “intrinsic” and “derived” consciousness: What does it consist in for a psychical process to be conscious? What is it for a nonconscious (i.e., preconscious or unconscious) psychical process to “become-conscious”? I touched on the functional question—what consciousness accomplishes, why consciousness exists at all—only insofar as it seemed useful for an introductory exposition of intrinsic and derived consciousness. Explaining the functions of consciousness is a large task, I stated, which requires a further article. However, an additional article alone cannot do the job required. I shall address here only a part, albeit a crucial part, of the functions of consciousness according to Freud's theory. It is not my purpose at this point to propose an improvement over what Freud worked out.

What did I have in mind when I referred to the functions of consciousness? For one thing, the tremendous biological importance

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Dr. Natsoulas is Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis.

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