Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 79 Issue 2 (June 2006), Pages 153-307

From the repression of contents to the rules of the (narrative) self: A present‐day cognitive view of the Freudian phenomenon of repressed contents (pages 165-181)

In psychoanalysis, it is commonly thought that ideas (desires, fears, etc.) may be repressed, and that they can be made conscious. In this article, we shall apply cognitive viewpoints and assert that ideas do not exist in the unconscious as ‘ready made’, and thus repressed ideas cannot be ‘brought’ into consciousness. We suggest that the contents of consciousness are formed by processes on four levels: (1) unconscious brain processes, (2) the level of consciousness, (3) the level of self‐consciousness, and (4) the level of narrative self‐consciousness. From this point of view, the absence (or repression) of certain contents appears to be due to the missing of processes on Levels 1 – 4. Consequently, repressed contents appear in consciousness when appropriate processes take place. When studied in terms of our four‐level model, repression may be treated as part of the study of the self. By applying the viewpoint of the self to the phenomenon of repression, the danger of the homunculus problem can be avoided. It also becomes apparent that certain fundamental problems met in the study of the self are the ones that Freud tried to solve in his meta‐psychological writings.

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