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5 - Disposition and memory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2009

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Summary

Preface (1973)

This lecture can be attached to a specific text within Freud's works. Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety and New Introductory Lectures were two works to which I had been paying special attention while I was writing the Ernest Jones lecture. The lecture purposely avoids any mention of repression; the word nowhere occurs in it. Yet Freud's theory of repression was its starting point. The account that I at that time planned to give of mental dispositions, quite independently of Freud, required a theory of inhibition and of repression. At the same time I found an uncertainty, an apparent hesitation between two distinct views, in Freud's theory of repression. On one view repression of libidinal energies is the universal condition of learning and of conscious, rational planning, and even of the power of normal human thought. On another view repression is represented as the necessary cost of that renunciation of instinctual drives which our civilization demands; the implication is that much of the cost in neurosis may be controllable, and that repression need not be so severe and harmful as it has been. Also, there seemed to be in Freud more than one theory of the relation of anxiety to repression. In Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety Freud wrote: ‘It was anxiety which produced repression and not, as I formerly believed, repression which produced anxiety.’ I was puzzled by these changes, which have consequences for the philosophy of mind.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1982

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