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Stewart, H. (1968). Levels of Experience of Thinking. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:709-711.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:709-711

Levels of Experience of Thinking

Harold Stewart

The problem that I wish to examine in this paper is that of the relationship between thinking, consciousness, and the mind. This will entail some examination of psychoanalytic theory concerning mental functioning which will be linked up with some clinical observations made during the analysis of a schizophrenic patient.

We are all of us aware roughly what we mean by ordinary thinking. We conceptualize ourselves as possessing something which we call a mind, that we locate inside our head; and that we postulate its presence by the fact that we become aware of thoughts and perceptions which are said to be a function of this mind's activity. These thoughts and perceptions are usually meaningful in some way to us in that they serve as guides either to further lines of thought or to some physical activity. These thoughts and perceptions are said to be possessed of a factor called "psychic quality", which Freud (1895) described as "sensations which are different in a great multiplicity of ways and whose difference is distinguished according to its relations with the external would. Within this difference there are series, similarities, and so on, but there are in fact no quantities in it. It may be asked how qualities originate and where qualities originate." This description comes from the "Project for a Scientific Psychology", a pre-psychoanalytic work, but nevertheless is his only extensive account of his concept of "quality". We also know that this mind, by inference from clinical observations, has the property of unconscious thinking of which by definition we are not aware and that unconscious thoughts do not possess this property of "psychic quality".

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