Your Unconscious, Fantasies Not Narcissist's

Uploaded 4/7/2023, approx. 57 minute read

Ask two psychologists what is the unconscious and you will get three answers on a good day.

This is what we are going to discuss today.

We are going to descend from your consciousness to your pre-consciousness.

Yes, not subconscious.

Subconscious is not a clinical term.

From conscious to pre-conscious to unconscious.

We are going to explore all these floors in the elevator going down into the darkest recesses of your mind.

Depth psychology.

My name is Stan Vaknin. I am a former visiting professor of psychology and a professor of finance. And the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism, Revisited the book that started it all and was the first to describe narcissistic abuse. I am proud to say.

So what is the unconscious?

Well, the short answer is we don't know.

Now you can switch off and move to another video. And the long answer is of course explaining to you what we don't know, why we don't know it, how come we don't know what we don't know and whether there is any hope whatsoever that there will come a day where we will know finally what we don't know and know what we know.

Did you understand any of this?

Because I didn't.

The unconscious is like a black hole.

We are not quite sure as to what exactly happens inside a black hole.

There is a lot of speculation. There are many theories in physics that describe the innards of a black hole.

But a black hole is mostly known by its effects on the environment.

Similarly, the unconscious is known by its symptoms.

Not only symptoms, but specific behaviors such as jokes, believe it or not, parapraxis, in other words, daily behaviors like losing your keys or what is called a Freudian sleep, using the wrong word. Dreams.

So all these tell us a lot about the unconscious.

We could therefore say that the unconscious is comprised of symbolic representations or at the very least indirect representations of what's going on.

The axis is mediated and we need to decipher and decode behaviors, self-reporting and information such as the one contained in dreams, in order to obtain a clue as to the specific unconscious of the reporting agent, the person.

Why is that?

Well, there's been a lot of discussion, especially in psychoanalytic literature, but not only, about the unknown known, things we know but never think about it.

Never think about these things consciously.

This is Bolas, the guy who described the unthought known is called Bolas.

Lacan referred to unknown knowledge and unknown memory as determinant signifiers, the things that end up defining your identity.

Unconscious, the concept of the unconscious is perhaps the most widely agreed upon in psychology.

We find it in psychoanalysis, we find it in cognitive theory, we even find it among certain neuroscientists.

And yet there is no single definition and today we are going to explore a variety of approaches to the unconscious.

We're going to end by describing unconscious fantasies.

Of course, we're going to link all this to narcissism because narcissism is at the core of both the unconscious and of fantasies spawned by and emanating from the unconscious.

The unconscious is a kind of language. It's an innate capacity. It's like a container coupled with environmental input, content produced by others.

So it's like we are born with this repository empty and then we gather into it. We harvest reactions, input and feedback from other people.

So the unconscious is very similar to a language. We are born with a language capacity, Chomsky, and then we imbue it or we collect into it the vestiges and elements and figments of language.

We imitate, we emulate, we memorize and so on.

And at a certain point we start to talk.

It's the same with the unconscious.

We are born empty, with an empty unconscious and it gets filled with time.

The unconscious is a language.

We know that because dreams deploy a highly specific language of symbols as Freud described in 1900 in his famous Tract, The Interpretation of Dreams.

Where by the way, the modern use of the word unconscious was first described.

The unconscious is a language, but it's a public act.

Wittgenstein said that all languages are public. There's no such thing as a private language.

I beg to disagree, but that's not the point.

The point is that being a language, the unconscious is also a public dimension.

This is Lacan.

The unconscious is the internalization of a group.

The baby is born, essentially, tabula rasa, when it comes to the unconscious. It has innate, innate capacities for language, for other things, and for the unconscious.

Then the baby is exposed to a variety of adults and others and picks up from them cues, information, data, facial expressions, body language, you name it.

The majority of this information is stored in the unconscious and forms the unconscious.

So it is a group activity.

The unconscious is a group activity.

But as usual, Freud was there first, decades before everyone else.

We are forced to revisit history.

Start with Leibniz.

Leibniz at the time came with the concept of petit- perception.

Yes, he wrote in French.

Petit- perception.

Petit- perception were gradations in consciousness.

Leibniz said that not all forms of consciousness are equally potent or equally intense.

It was a revolutionary idea for its time.

And so you could say that Leibniz is the father of the unconscious.

For much of early history, psychology was the study of conscious phenomena and conscious phenomena only.

But this deteriorated very fast to journaling.

The early psychologists, they were introspective. Early psychologists studied themselves and by extension and by extrapolation derived general theories about the psychology of others.

Introspectionism is maybe a good idea in therapy when you're the patient, but it's a seriously flawed idea when you're trying to formulate a theory of psychology which applies for everyone because you're not everyone. You're not representative. No single psychologist is representative of the human species, luckily for the human species.

So introspectionism failed in the early 20th century and Freud belonged to a large extent to the seam, to the transition area between introspectionism and behaviorism because Freud tried to introduce science like neurology into psychology.

So then behaviorism became the dominant paradigm and behaviorism dealt with the scientific unreliability of introspective reports by ignoring mental states altogether.

The behaviorists considered human beings machines, devices activated by environmental cues.

And then in the last few decades of the 20th century, last four decades, behaviorism was challenged and it was challenged by cognitiveism.

Cognitiveism understands the mind in terms of unconscious or to be more precise, non-conscious information processing.

We've come a full circle.

Started with the unconscious in the late 19th century and ended with the unconscious in the late 20th century, made a detour via scientism, the pseudo science or behaviorism and scientifically of psychology.

Cognitive scientists refer to unconscious processes and unconscious content and but they are not, their perception or their conception of the unconscious is not the same as the unconscious in psychoanalytic theory because in cognitive theory, the unconscious has nothing to do with affect.

The unconscious in cognitive theory is removed from affective life and is also incapable even on principle of becoming conscious.

According to cognitive theory, that which is unconscious shall remain unconscious, to go biblical on you.

And according to psychoanalytic theory, that that is unconscious should be brought up to consciousness and become conscious as a condition for healing.

So Freud's work was focused around affect and around significantly, effectively significant unconscious thoughts and then admitting them into consciousness.

Land travel time back to the 19th century.

There was a huge debate in the 19th century.

What to do with mental phenomena?

So some said phenomena, there are some phenomena that are mental, but they are not intrinsically unconscious.

This was known as the dissociationist model.

The dissociationist model claimed that minds are entirely conscious.

There is no unconscious.

So how do you explain that something, some thoughts, some beliefs, some emotions, some effects are not accessible to consciousness?

If all of mind is conscious, then how come some things are unconscious?

And the answer of the dissociationist school was that the single mind splits, it doubles.

Minds are entirely conscious, but they are divisible.

This division occurs in response to trauma.

The parts of the brain, the brain splits when exposed to trauma and the portions of the brain, both of them, all three of them, all 20 of them remain fully conscious.

The thing is that no part has access to the other part.

There is no direct introspective access to other mental states.

Now this is very reminiscent of course of multiple personality disorder, associative identity disorder, but it's also very reminiscent of the self-states model.

And so we are converging here with some of the work of Philip Bromberg and some of my own work in the field.

Advocates of dissociationism included Paul and Pierre Janet, Azzam, Ribeaux, Binet, Thène in France, James in Prince in United States. So these were serious names. These were very, very first rank of psychology at the time.

But there was another school that contested dissociationism.

So to summarize dissociationism, there's a single mind, it is always conscious, exposed to trauma, it breaks down.

When it breaks down, the parts remain conscious but inaccessible to each other.

That's why we misinterpret the situation as conscious and unconscious. There's no unconscious according to dissociationism.

But there was another school that hotly disputed dissociationism.

This school said that there are mental states that are intrinsically unconscious, but they are not genuinely mental. They appear to be mental, but they're actually physiological.

And this was known as the dispositionalist approach.

They said that conscious, unconscious mental events are actually nothing more than neuropsychological dispositions and states.

Under the right circumstances, they realized some kind of causal power to produce conscious mental phenomena.

And here we have philosophers like Brentano, in Austria, Feigl, in Germany, Miehl Carpenter, Jackson and Moseley in England and so on.

This was more of a philosophical school because it dealt with the issue of dualism, mind body, Cartesian or Descartes thinking and so on and so forth.

So on one hand, one group was comprised of psychologists and they said the mind is always conscious, unconscious mind is a contradiction in terms, it's an oxymoron.

And there was another group of philosophers and they said, yeah, there is such a thing as unconscious, but it's not mental. It's just physical events in the body that are yet to manifest or to reach consciousness.

The dissociationists claimed that unconscious mental states are not introspectable. They are not accessible to you because they are excluded from the subject's primary consciousness.

The study of these states is in itself the province of psychopathology.

The dispositionalists, remember the philosophers, they said that unconscious states are not subject to introspection. They agreed with the dissociations.

Both these schools taught before Freud, in the period before Freud appeared on the scene, both these schools taught that unconscious states are not subject to study. They cannot be introspected.

But the dispositionalists said that they cannot be introspected because they are not mental.

How can you introspect something physical or physiological or biological?

The study of this state should be relegated to neuroscience, to the study of the brain.

So everyone before Freud, let's say up until the 1870s or 1880s, everyone regarded a truly mental state that is unconscious as nonsense.

If it's mental, it must be conscious.

Freud was not exempt.

In the early years of his career, I would say prior to 1896 or even 1900, Freud embraced this neo-Cautesian approach.

He never mentioned the word unconscious in any of his writings prior to 1896.

Here and therehe used the word unconscious, but in a kind of loose, adjectival, descriptive sense.

His early writings are sometimes dissociationist and sometimes dispositionalist, but never Freudian.

So we are faced now with a philosophical conundrum.

How can, and by the way, there is confluence, strong confluence between philosophy and psychology.

In many countries in the world, psychology is in the faculty of philosophy, the department of psychology is in the faculty of philosophy.

For example, consider the following.

How can non-sensory thoughts which contain obstructions, relations, logical operators such as and, or, if, then, I mean, how can such totally abstract thoughts be represented in a concrete sensory mode of consciousness?

Where is the transition from abstract to concrete?

It is this conundrum that pushed Freud, forced him to come up with the first of his amazing insights.

Freud was a genius on par with Einstein. He was a genius of the inner universe. Einstein was a genius of the outer universe.

That we have chosen to discard Freud is inane and I would even say suicidal, species-wise.

So Freud was faced with this problem.

How do we transition from abstract thought to neurological events in the brain and sensory modes of consciousness?

And he proposed a solution.

And today this solution is known as the sententialist solution or sententialist theory of thinking.

He said that cognitive activity is the silent manipulation of language-like propositions which reflect structured neural codes.

There was someone who said it before him, a guy by the name of Bertold Delbrouck, but he didn't say it as clearly.

You can see the direct lineage between Freud and Lacan.

Freud suggested that the solution is language.

The unconscious is a language.

The consciousness, cognitive activity, is also a language.

And this language reflects the reality of neural structures, neural pathways, neural networks.

It's an extremely advanced thinking which surfaced or resurged only in the 60s and 80s of the 20th century.

So Freud said that in order for thoughts to be represented in consciousness, they must be expressed through some qualitative sensory medium.

They must be reinforced by new qualities, as Freud put it in 1950.

So Freud said that there are hierarchies of propositions and symbols which are homologous, which are reflective of the brain's own neural hierarchies.

He believed that language fulfills all these requirements. It's a bridge.

In Freud's thinking, language is a bridge.

On the one hand, it is rich in symbols. On the other hand, it is structured. There is an order of propositions. Language is also richly sensory. It involves the senses, auditory, visual, kinesthetic. Language involves, that's why we say body language. You know, look at my face, how animated it is as I speak. And no, it's not my Parkinson.


In order for an unconscious thought to become conscious, said Freud, it must activate the mental representation of a sentence capable of expressing it.

So he came up with the idea of verbal representations, of verbal residues, which go hand in hand, correspond to, and are described by, motor representations.

Herethrough language, Freud created a linkage between body, brainmovements, and mind, conscious and unconscious cognitive processing.

And if this linkage exists, then it is through language that we can convert unconscious processes and phenomena into conscious ones.

Hence, talk therapy.

That's why we have talk therapy.

As we talk, we bring up, we dredge up the unconscious, structure it via language, which corresponds to activity and structure in the brain, and that way, render it conscious.

Conscious thought in Freud's thinking involves talking to yourselfin effect.

And this anticipated Lashley's idea.

Lashley came up with something called subvocal speech. And it anticipated Lashley's idea by decades, 40something years.

So we have consciousness, we have the unconscious.

And when we try to convert one to the other, the unconscious, when we try to bring up the unconscious to consciousness, we use language.

And we talk to ourselves. We have an inner dialogue. And through language, we verbalize the unconscious.

Freud believed that thoughts never become conscious. They merely produce conscious effects, essentially, via the mediation or intermediation of language.

Can't tell you how revolutionary this thinking was and honestly still is. How amazingly postmodern it is.

This man was a towering genius.

Conscious mental processes, actually conscious representations of unconscious information structures.

Freud's claim was stunning. He said that, and I'm quoting, "mental processes are in themselves unconscious." 1915.

And Lashley in 1956 said exactly the same thing.

That's almost 60 years later. So 40 years later, I'm sorry.

So Freud reversed psychology completely, put it on his head.

Prior to Freud, everyone said any mental state and any mental process is always conscious.

And this is a direct antecedent, predecessor of current day cognitive theories, which are the main theories in psychology.

So cognition and consciousness are activities of entirely distinct mental modules.

And thoughts can only enter consciousness, but they are not. And thoughts can only enter consciousness via the proliferation of information from cognition to consciousness, from first system to the second system.

Freud broke the mind, created a schism of the mind. He said that the mind is actually a compound, a collaboration between two systems.

As I said, cognition and consciousness. And that the bridge between them is information. It is possible for information to be excluded from consciousness or repressed.

And in order for mental content to be repressed, it just needs to be cut off language.

For any content to be repressed, to be inaccessible to consciousness, this content must be isolated from linguistic representations, from words, from language. It must be rendered moot, silent, dumb, repressed ideas, invariably representatives of instinctual drives.

Later, this was called the id.

So instinctual urges and drives, they are kept back by isolating them from language.

So repression was now intimately connected to socially unacceptable urges and drives.

And language became thought police. Language is used in Freud's theory to police the internal space, to push down socially unacceptable, unrealistic, potentially risky and dangerous drives and urges by not allowing them to reach preconsciousness.

How is this accomplished?

By isolating them from language.

If these drives and urges are allowed to reach consciousness, we experience alarm, unpleasure, displeasure, panic, anxiety.

So this is all based on the pleasure principle.

Consider how revolutionary this is.

Freud said urges and drives, if they are let loose, if they are allowed to roam free, will have dire consequences, not the least of which is that we're going to be egodystonic all the time, we're going to feel bad all the time.

So they're cut off, repressed and isolated by not being given access to language.

Therefore, they can never reach consciousness, can never interact with the ego later and therefore can never operate in reality.

Freud believed that only thoughts can be repressed initially.

Effects cannot be repressed because they are sensory and they are non-propositional in nature.

In other words, effects or emotions or even moods, they don't require language.

So they cannot be repressed.

So there's no need to translate them into language and this way to participate in the structure of consciousness.

Okay, Freud came up with a trilateral model initially, was known as the first topographical modeland he divided the mind to three functional units, consciousness, system, preconsciousness and system unconscious.

So conscious, preconscious and unconscious.

Consciousness he described as an organ for sensing mental qualities.

Pre-conscious is essentially unconscious, descriptively, like we have no access to it, but the preconscious, the mental contents in the preconscious are able to enter consciousness if we focus our attention on them.

So the preconscious is like this big refrigerator with many, many goodies and candies and food and everything, but it is sealed off from consciousness via the door.

But if you open the door by focusing your attention, you can extract the goodies and foodies from the refrigerator and render them conscious, consume them.

Freud was not known for consistency.

Many of his views over the years, because he's been active for like 40, 50 years, so over the years he contradicted himselfand the system unconscious was not exempt from his vacillations.

Initially, he described the contents of the system unconscious as thoughts that have been excluded from or denied access to the preconscious by the operation of a filtering mechanism which he called censorship.

So the unconscious is full of thoughts.

There is a censor.

And these thoughts are not allowed to reach the preconscious and at least potentially consciousness.

This is the repressed or dynamic unconscious.

It operates under the pleasure principle.

It is known as a primary process, urges, drives, primitive, reptilian, the stem brain, things which are usually socially frowned upon or even punished severely.

It's illogical. It's irrational down there. It's seething and fermenting and needs to be controlled and contained.

Just like the proletariat in Vienna in the turn of the 20th century, we see a reflection of this in the structure of the mind.

Freud argued that the unconscious is illogical and rational, but he listed five distinct characteristics of the unconscious.

And he said that these characteristics distinguish the unconscious from the preconscious.

Go on, exemption from mutual contradiction.

The unconscious can hold two mutually exclusive cognitions together, mutually contradictory.

Number two, exemption from negation.

In other words, when one is confronted with a repressed wish or a thought or a feeling that had come to consciousness, one tends to negate it.

One tends to defend oneself against the repressed content.

One says, it's not mine. One disowns it, disavows it.

This is called negation.

In the unconscious, there's no negation. There is no discrepancy. There is no fight or internal conflict. Everyone is one big happy family. Everyone gets along.


So many things that happen in the unconscious are misattributed to other processes or traits or behaviors.


When a single ID, image, memory, thought, or dream object represents several associations and ideas.

So one thing stands for many.

These are all features of the unconscious.

Timelessness, which we will discuss a bit later, and disregard from reality.

In his famous essay, 1923, Ego and Id, Freud rejected the model of the three systems.

He disowned and disavowed the model of unconscious, preconscious, and conscious.

And he replaced it with what came to be known as the structural or second topographical model, which had what Freud called "instantzen" agencies.

Ego, id, and superego, which is the famous trilateral model of Freud, which everyone knows.

From that moment on, Freud actually did not use the term "unconscious" and did not link it to any mental system.

It fell out of favor in early psychoanalytic liturgy.

It was still used descriptively or as an adjective to refer to a property of mental events or systems, but not as a system.

So the id was described by Freud as irrational.

And so people mistakenly connected the id with the unconscious.

Because they said the unconscious is irrational and illogical.

The id is irrational and illogical.

So the id must be the unconscious.

And Freud himself described the id as possessing the five characteristics which he had previously attributed to the unconscious.

He said that the logical laws of thought do not apply in the Ego.

And so this created a huge mess and a confusion which persists to this very day.

The rational and logical components of unconscious mental functioning were pushed into the Ego.

And the Ego was described as a mental module which represents reason and common sense.

But the Ego has an unconscious part.

Basically in the first topographical module, the unconscious was comprised of irrational, illogical components and rational and logical components.

Now the Eid was the repository of all the irrational, illogical components of the previous unconscious.

And the Ego was the repository of the logical and rational components of the previous unconscious system.

So both the Eid and the Ego have powerful unconscious elements.

The Ego is partly unconscious.

Super ego is a part of the Ego.

It's like the tip of the iceberg of the Ego.

So the Super Ego by definition is also partly unconscious.

So now do we need the preconscious?

Because the old distinction between unconscious and preconscious was now replaced.

Now we have unconscious Ego, unconscious Id.

Why do we need the preconscious?

Let's go back to the first topographical module.

You remember, conscious, preconscious, unconscious.

Freud at the time said that you need to analyze what he called narcissistic psychoneurosis.

Today we call them psychosis.

He said that if you analyze these narcissistic psychoneurosis, they can furnish us with conceptions and I'm quoting him, can furnish us with conceptions through which the enigmatic unconscious system will be brought more within our reach as it were made tangible.

The first theory of mental structure, the topographical model, he said that you remember the mind is divided to psycholocalities, the unconscious, conscious and preconscious.

And he said that his psychical life is a conflict between these three.

And this is what came to be known as the dynamical model.

He said that there is energy there. Energy is stored in repressed memories and repression is a form of energy condensation.

Think of it as a battery. Protection is creating a battery. And when events are brought or memories are brought from the unconscious to consciousness, they bring with them, they drag with them this energy, a process known as abreaction.

Memory itself exists without any specific prejudice or interest.

The energetics, the structure of psychic processes is determined beyond consciousness.

And this came to be known as the economic point of view.

Finally, an inaccessibility to consciousness is undeniable, the descriptive point of view, but a transition is possible.

This became the heart of psychoanalysis.

These representations that are intolerable, irreconcilable, repressed, durable, pathogenic, beyond association, forgotten, all of these were outside of consciousness.

Like one big trash can in the unconscious.

Conscious system is not merely that which is outside the field of consciousness at any given time, but that which has been radically separated from consciousness by repression.

So cannot enter the conscious-preconscious system without some kind of distortion, energetic distortion.

This was a very warlike, civil warlike description of the mind.

The mind contains wishes which are unconscious, indestructible. The mind contains repressed memories and events, affected by libido. By libido, in other words, there's emotional investment there, there's emotional energy, free energy.

All this is regulated by the pleasure principle.

The primary processes of displacement and condensation operate in the unconscious system.

The conflict between repressed instincts and censorship creates dreams. It's a compromised formation, kind of.

I'm going to tell you what's...

It's like the dream is saying...

Dreams are saying to you, "We're going to tell you what's in your unconscious, but we're going to do it symbolically.

We can't talk to you directly. We have to talk to you via code or symbols."

Imagine all this seething cauldron, witches' cauldron, is the mind.

It goes on inside your mind.

The reality of the unconscious reveals itself in numerous localized processes.

I mentioned joking, forgetting words, symptomatic activities, and so on and so forth.

The unconscious system depends on instincts.

Repression is constantly in operation. It's a primal repression.

And actually, Freud implied, although he never said it directly and totally, he implied that repression creates the unconscious.

Repression is the outcome of unconscious.

He said that the unconscious contains the things, things, cathexes, the emotional investment in things of the objects, the first and true object cathexes, while the nucleus of the unconscious system consists of instinctual representatives which seek to discharge the cathexes, to discharge the energy.

That is to say, it consists of wishful impulses.

He wrote this in 1915, and two years later, he says that the unconscious is the missing link between the body, the mind, the soma, and the psyche.

So we have inside our heads, inside our minds, this cavity, this black hole, this system which is timeless. Nothing there is ordered temporarily. There's no timeline. Nothing is altered by the passage of time. There's no reference to time at all.

Then Freud wrote, "There is an exemption from mutual contradiction, primary process, mobility of cathexes, timelessness, and replacement of the external by psychical reality."

You're beginning to see the link to narcissism, because in narcissism, in early childhood, and if it persists into adulthood, in pathological narcissism, there is a replacement of external objects with internal objects.

There's a confusion between external objects and internal objects. The external is replaced by psychical reality, which is a great description of how the narcissist relates to the world.

Narcissism therefore is a hostile takeover of consciousness by the unconscious.

The unconscious takes over the narcissist.

The unconscious drives the narcissist.

The narcissist is an inverted or reversed person. His unconscious is out there, and his consciousness is repressed.

In Freud's second theory of mental structure, the structural theory, the mind is divided into the agencies of ego, superego, and id, which I mentioned.

Here, I emphasize again, not one of them is identical to the unconscious. All of them have unconscious parts.

Now, this should not be confused with the unconscious concept.

Freud wrote in an essay titled "From the History of an Infantile Neurosis," he defined the term unconscious concept.

He gave an example.

"Feces, baby, and penis form a unity, an unconscious concept, sit venya verbo, the concept, namely, of something small that can be separated from one's body.

So Freud gave an example of a few things, feces, baby, penis, and he said that it creates a concept, a principle of operation, an organizing principle, an idea that makes sense of the world.

And in this case, the idea is there's me, and there are small things that come out of me or are not connected to me or can be disconnected from me.

This is known as an unconscious concept.

In philosophy, concepts refer to groupings of objects, of experience. So we have objects of experience and we group them into classes.

Freud adopted this philosophical approach to the unconscious concept.

He says it's the equivalence of objects within a certain relationship that allows us to talk about the concept.

The notion presented by Freud is complex. It's complicated.

These concepts are unconscious. They're not the result of a process of analysis or judgment or, you know, they just happen. They just erupt or occur or emerge.

And we, now we come to the crux of the godawful confusion, even among scholars, and the fact that there is no agreed terminology.

We use unconscious in three separate ways.

We use unconscious descriptively.

And it refers to the mental, the fact that mental content is not accessible to reflective self-awareness.

So descriptive consciousness includes the preconscious.

Descriptive unconscious, I'm sorry, includes the preconscious.

Then we have another type of unconscious, the system unconscious.

It's an aspect of mind operating according to the pleasure/unpleasure principle and primary process ed thinking, as I mentioned before.

This is the classic Freudian approach.

And it is not the same as the descriptive unconscious.

The descriptive unconscious is functional. It's operational.

If you can't think of it, if it doesn't come to your awareness, it's unconscious.

Freud said something else.

He said there's a structure there. And this structure is subject to the pleasure or unpleasure principle and their primary processes andthey are repressed and, you know, came up with a whole movie about what's happening inside the mind.

It's not merely something that you can't recall or something you have no access to.

That's not the unconscious.

There might be some content in the unconscious.

The unconscious is a dynamic system according to Freud.

And then there is, this leads to the dynamic unconscious.

It's the repressed materialand repression is an active process. It occurs all the time. Otherwise, the material can emerge or erupt and disrupt function.

So the material has to be repressed all the time actively.

So we have a structural description, a dynamic description, and a purely operational descriptive description.

We tend to confuse the three all the time.

There was a guy, there was an essay published in 1975, The Unconscious is Infinite Sets, an essay in Biologic, major work. So it was a major seminal work published by Ignacio, written by Ignacio Mateblanco.

He says that consciousness is in the footsteps of Freud. He said that consciousness is subject to classic asymmetric logic.

Unconscious, he says, rises from two principles, the principle of generalization, which I call the principle of nesting, and the principle of symmetry, which I call the Alice in Wonderland principle.

Let's explain these two principles. Let's expound on them.

The principle of generalization, which is present also in classical logic, and maybe this is the bridge between conscious and unconscious, this fact that they share some elements of logic.

But according to Mateblanco, the unconscious is mainly operated by the principle of generalization.

It postulates this principle that in the unconscious, each entity is treated as part of a set with other elements. And this set is treated in turn as a subset of a greater set, which in turn is part of a greater set.

And so this is why I call it the nesting principle.

These are distinguished one from the other, they are grouped together through obstruction of similarities in sets.

The second principle in this essay is that in the unconscious asymmetrical relations are selectively treated as if they were symmetrical.

And the result is that relations of succession and contiguity disappear.

Time for example, three dimensional space. These are ways in which we arrange relations between entities.

And if anything goes symmetrical, is asymmetrical, asymmetrical, is symmetrical, there's no point in talking about time, which for example is asymmetrical.

And so a part can equal the whole and similarities can be transformed into identities and everything is equal to everything.

That's the unconscious, it's an aggregate of infinite sets.

And he took off the work of Richard Dedekind, who was a mathematician in the 19th century. Dedekind worked on infinite sets, his work was later developed by Kantow.

And what Mate Blanco did, he created mathematics of the mind, beautifully rendering Freud's work in effect into mathematical shape or mathematical form using set theory, or more specifically infinite set theory, and using symmetrical and asymmetrical logic.

So he said that symmetrical logic can be an expression of a symmetrical system and where reality is indivisible, homogenous, isotropic and so on.

And asymmetrical logic is a manifestation of asymmetrical systems where reality divides into parts.

And in states of intense emotion, the experience and logic of the symmetrical system, they are dominant.

So for the mind, the emotional object is infinite.

And it's also part of an infinite set.

He succeeded in formalizing the study of the unconscious, Melanie Blanco.

He discovered isomorphism among the emotional, the unconscious and infinite logic.

It's an amazing piece of work.

Okay, back.

Freud said the repressed does not cover everything that is unconscious.

This is another amazing observation because first he said that mental processes are unconscious.

Then he went on to explain how things become unconscious, memories, events.

And then he went on to say that there are areas of the unconscious which are essentially not the outcomes of repression, although he also says that repression creates the unconscious.

So he actually suggested that the unconscious contains four elements or four categories.

He divided the unconscious to four categories.

Each category is a content category.

Representation of instincts like the id, material accumulated owing to primal repression, trauma, for example.

Number three, contents pushed down by the forces of repression, unpleasant memories and things you wish to forget.

Number four, phylogenetic schemata that manifests through primal fantasy with id.

This is a precursor of Jung's collective unconscious.

What Freud was saying is that being born human predisposes you to have specific structures and elements in your unconscious.

He called it phylogenetic schemata.

The Jungian term collective unconscious is just what Freud said.

Part of the unconscious that contains archetypes and is common to all humanity.

What are archetypes?

Schemata, schemes.

So here I'm afraid Jung preferred Freud not to say plagiarize him once again.

Okay, I hope you got some feeling as to what is the unconscious, conflicting schools, disagreements, ideas and so on.

And now through the bridge of narcissism, let's discuss unconscious fantasies.

Narcissists engage in fantasy.

We all know that.

I elaborated on the work of Sander in 1989 and I brought the concept of shared fantasy into the study of narcissism.

But I think what people misunderstand or don't realize is that the shared fantasy is in large part an unconscious fantasy.

And this is why it's very wrong to demonize narcissists and say that they are lying and skimming and coming and manipulative and Machiavellian.

They're not.

These are psychopaths.

Psychopaths are like that.

Narcissists are slaves to their own fantasies.

They come to believe their own fantasies.

They inhabit the fantasy much more than any of their victims.

They're heartbroken when the fantasy dissolves.

Narcissists are creatures of fantasy.

Narcissism is a fantasy defense gone awry.

The false self is fantastic.

Grandiosity is a cognitive, fantastic cognitive distortion.

Narcissism is all about fantasy and a lot of the narcissist fantasy life is unconscious.

Let's talk about Melanie Klein and her school.

Kleineon psychoanalysts regard the unconscious as made up of fantasies and the fantasies pertain to relations with objects.

In the mind of the narcissist, other people are objects.

So any relationship with an object, animate or inanimate would by Kleineon definition be a fantasy.

These fantasies are the mental representation of instincts, and so they are kind of primary.

We will talk about the work of Susan Isaacs in a bit.

Freud's paradigm of the psychological world was that there's an unconscious fantasy of for example, mother, father and me.

This came to be known as the Oedipus complex.

Oedipus complex is a fantasy.

It's a fantasy about being bedded and killing father if you are a boy.

The Electra complex, bedding father and killing mother if you're a girl.

But these, what are these things?

These are relations with objects.

Their mother and father are known as primary objects.

These are relations with objects, relationships with objects which are fantasized.

So the Oedipus and Electra complexes are fantasies.

It's a fantasy of a three person constellation.

He Freud contrasted internally dymanic fantasizing or the Oedipus complex with the desexualized fantasy that is the basis of sublimated activity like daydreaming.

Freud made a distinction between submerged unconscious fantasies which he claimed initially to be totally suffused with sex because they are instinctual, they're libidinal, they reflect the external and fantasies which are much more cognitive, much more conscious and consequently they are not sexual.

They're not sexual fantasies, but they have to do with daydreaming or planning or you know, he made a distinction with it.

The role of the fantasy is to, the role of these latter fantasies, let's call them evolved cognitive fantasies, is to sublimate libido.

The main role of these fantasies is to convert libidinal instinctual urges and drives like for example sex into socially acceptable expressions and manifestations.

This is done via daydreaming or creativity, aesthetic or other types of creation.

It is not the same as primary unconscious fantasies, primary unconscious fantasies which are sexualized, you remember, provoke conflicts.

So sublimatory, sublimatory fantasies guide activities and produce things that lead to creative efforts.

Primary unconscious fantasies are violent, sexual, prohibited, forbidden and therefore they call for repression, they need to be repressed.

Susan Isaacs in 1948 defined unconscious fantasy as the mental representation of instinct, same as Freud.

The libido is an activity of the mind.

It has physiological origins and functions of course, anyone with genitalia would confirm this, but it takes the form of a fantasy of performing some activity with an object aka sex.

And so on the basis of such fantasies, the raw expressions of instinct, the primitive mind of the infant starts to structure itself, it creates order, there are further primitive fantasies, projection, introjection, splitting, denial, the child begins to use fantasy to make sense of his or her environment and to control his or her impulses.

It relieves the child of terror and primitive conflict.

Fantasy is an outlet, it's like a steam valve, it releases energy.

And in many ways, you could conceive of fantasy as upreactive, in other words, you could conceive of fantasy as a bridge between the unconscious and consciousness.

You remember what Freud said, Freud suggested 100 years ago that this bridge is language and Lacan expounded on it a bit later that this bridge is language.

What if this bridge is language and fantasy is a bridge?

Then fantasy is a language, it's a language element.

It's a dialect of one's native language, native, I mean, the language of one's mind.

So the developmental sequence starts with the unconscious fantasies in early stages and evolves through fear, through other emotions, other conflicts, it evolves, sex is taken away, fantasy becomes desexualized and leads to activities such as planning and daydreaming and creativity.

Children express daydreaming all the time when they play, for example, it's an important activity. Daydreaming provides with what psychoanalysis calls sublimatory opportunities.

You can fantasize in daydream and it's risk- free. There's no danger. It's accepted by society.

Klein and Sykonlitz emphasize the roots of fantasy life in the unconscious.

But Freud doesn't dispute this. He just says there's another layer.

Melanie Klein in 1955 developed a kind of child analysis that demonstrated the workings of the unconscious in the fantasies at play. She developed a technique of figures. She gave children figures and the children positioned the figures in their play.

And based on that, she was able to decipher and decode the fantasies. And she created a theory on how objects are positioned in relation to each other and reflect a map of the inner self.

Klein suggested that the details of play somehow reflect defensiveness, primary conflicts, impulses. And we use this insight today when we debrief children after sexual abuse. We let them play with figures.

The unconscious roots of impulses and defenses are expressed in relations with objects. The nature of very early primitive primary fantasies is still hotly debated.

Anna Freud, Freud's daughter, who was a very prominent child psychologist, she completely disagreed with Melanie Klein. She said that infants have coherent fantasies from a very early age, not primary, well developed. She regarded the unconscious fantasies that Klein and her colleagues reported as secondary elaboration at the later stages of development.

Children are born with fantasies. They just learn to structure them, order them, dress them up with language, and communicate them.

Anna Freud said that the infant develops cognitively by establishing representations of reality and the objects in reality.

But these representations do not cohere into a meaningful whole. These fantasies don't become motivating fantasies until some later stages like autoeroticism and primary analysis.

Piaget in 1954, Jean Piaget and Margaret Mahler in 1975. They also describe the emergence of representations of reality from these early objectless phases.

And child psychology such as Daniel Stern in 1985, they saw the infant as possessing a sophisticated mind early on, somewhere between Klein and Anna Freud.

So what is an unconscious fantasy?

The definitive work on unconscious fantasy is Jacob Arlo's in 1969.

Jacob Arlo described seven elements of the unconscious fantasy.

Number one, although it is unconscious, it contains fixed verbal elements.

Number two, in contrast to the operating principles of the system unconscious, unconscious fantasy is internally consistent and internally organized.

Number three, in tandem or conjunction with fixed fantasies, there is an ongoing unconscious fantasy life.

Number four, external events can trigger unconscious fantasy, which in turn can color the perception of external events.

Number five, unconscious fantasies are grouped together around basic childhood wishes, though their different versions evolved during different phases of lifecan service defenses against each other.

Examples of both drive and defense are contained in an unconscious fantasy.

Number six, encroachment of unconscious fantasy upon the realistic ego may be complete or partial.

And this is, of course, narcissism, where the ego is not ego.

So the fantasy encroaches on the space that should have been reserved for the ego.

Now, the ego is the reality principle.

If you don't have an ego or your ego is not allowed to develop, you don't have proper reality testing.

And fantasy is the only way that you can refer to your environment, hence narcissism.

And finally, the seventh principle, while unconscious fantasy is usually quite personal in nature, it is not uncommon to discern a certain communality of elements in members of the same culture or social groups.

Donald's work was seminal 1969, foundational, and was expounded upon by Theodore Shapirowell into 2010, 2008.

Frederick Levine in 1993, Donald North in 2008, and so on and so forth.

Leon, Lacan and Freud all agreed that language is the key. Language is a bridge and a mediator between the consciousness and the unconscious.

However, they fail to accept fantasy as its own language. Fantasy is an identical mediating function. Fantasy is a bridge between consciousness and unconsciousness, but going the other way.

Fantasy grants people like the narcissist who are abnormal, grants them access to the unconscious and represses conscious elements.

While in healthy normal people, fantasy does exactly the opposite because it's a language. It brings elements from the unconscious to consciousness.

In narcissism, it takes elements from consciousness and renders them unconscious and instead invades the space that should have been reserved for consciousness, should have been reserved for the ego and fantasy becomes in effect a monopolistic primary and secondary process.

And this is as good a description of pathological narcissism as I've ever heard.

I hope you survived this lecture because I hadn't.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissistic Mortification: From Shame to Healing via Trauma, Fear, and Guilt

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of narcissistic mortification, which is the fear and shame experienced by narcissists when confronted with their true selves. He explains how narcissists are victims of narcissistic abuse and how they perpetuate this abuse onto others. He delves into the psychological mechanisms and defense strategies used by narcissists to cope with mortification, and the role of shame and guilt in their behavior. Vaknin also explores the impact of mortification on relationships and the potential for healing through therapy. He emphasizes the importance of re-traumatization and experiencing agony as a key to healing narcissism.

Why Covert Narcissist Steals Your Life? (Psychosis, Rivalry, Envy)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the shameless plagiarism of his concepts and explores the psychology behind such behavior. He delves into the reasons why covert narcissists steal from others, including self-aggrandizement, one-upmanship, and passive aggression. He also explains the use of defense mechanisms by covert narcissists and introduces concepts such as the dual mothership model and narcissistic snapshotting.

How Narcissist “Loves” YOU (Zagreb Lecture EXCERPT) (BOOTLEG)

In this lecture, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of the unconscious and its role in narcissism. He explains that defense mechanisms are automatic but not unconscious, and that the concept of the unconscious is debatable in psychology. He also touches on the history of the unconscious and its role in different psychological theories. The lecture ends with a thank you to the audience and the organizer for their participation.

Field Theory of Consciousness (9th Global Experts Meeting Neurology & Neuropsychiatry)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the relationship between the mind and body, and how language serves as a bridge between the two. He explains that potentials are fields of lingual energy that become structures when charged with lingual energy. The release of lingual energy is Freud's cathexis, and defense mechanisms are all sentences in the language. Pathologies occur when only partial repression is achieved, leading to a pathological hypercluster, which can result in compulsive or obsessive behaviors. Finally, Professor Vaknin suggests a field theory of the mind that compares to various previous works.

YOU are Narcissist’s Tradition, His Reflexive Self

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of the reflexive self, which is the idea that individuals form their identities through constant self-reflection and self-awareness. He explains that in traditional societies, self-reflection was limited by the boundaries set by traditions, which provided a sense of stability and ontological security. However, in post-traditional societies, the collapse of traditions has led to an extension of reflexivity, which can be both empowering and anxiety-inducing. While Giddens' work on reflexivity has been criticized for oversimplifying the relationship between social structures and individual agency, it remains an important concept in understanding the formation of identity in contemporary society.

Rigid Personality to OCD: Break the Cycle

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the importance of self-discipline and its connection to self-efficacy, which is the ability to secure positive outcomes from one's environment. A lack of self-discipline can lead to impaired self-efficacy, resulting in generalized anxiety. To overcome this, Vaknin suggests a five-step program: 1) identify constricting rigidity and magical thinking, 2) exit your comfort zone, 3) shift the locus of control and develop self-efficacy, 4) focus on one priority at a time, and 5) alternate between your pathologies and addictions.

Abuse Victim's New Year Resolutions

In this video, Professor Sam Vaknin outlines seven promises that individuals should make to themselves in order to demand respect and preserve their self-worth. These promises include setting clear boundaries, being assertive about needs and emotions, treating others with respect, and terminating relationships with abusers. Vaknin encourages viewers to make these promises to themselves and to email him with specific topics they would like him to address in future videos.

Flying Monkeys of Narcissist Zero: Language of Narcissistic Abuse

Professor Sam Vaknin insists on being credited for his work because he values history and memory. He claims to have coined a significant amount of language related to narcissism and narcissistic abuse, and he believes it's important to recognize paternity, provenance, and intellectual lineage. He argues that plagiarism is intellectual murder and that people deserve credit for their work. He sees the lack of recognition as a threat to civilization, as it sacrifices time and memory for instant gratification.

Therapist Your Father, Wife Your Mother: Transference as Flashback Light

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of transference in psychology, comparing it to a "flashback light" where individuals project emotions and ideas from past relationships onto new figures in their lives. He explains how transference can lead to dysfunctional patterns of behavior and relational dynamics, particularly in individuals with certain attachment styles or personality disorders. Vaknin also delves into the concept of projective identification, where individuals try to force new people in their lives to conform to familiar, often unhealthy, relational patterns from the past. Ultimately, he views transference as a resistance and a repetition compulsion that seeks redemptive resolution but never materializes.

Complexes: Your Shadow’s Double Bind (Internal Rhetoric)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the constant dialogue and conflict within the psyche, leading to a state of double bind. He explains the concepts of complexes and shadow in Jung's work, emphasizing their role as organizing principles in the inner psyche. Vaknin delves into the nature of double bind, the conditions for its existence, and its impact on mental health. He also explores the relationship between complexes, archetypes, and the unconscious, highlighting their influence on memory, identity, and behavior. Vaknin concludes by proposing that the psyche is in a constant state of dialogue and conflict, leading to the emergence of specific complexes.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy