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  The unconscious, the idea that not all ideas must be conscious to effect mental life, was proposed by Johann Herbart, an influential philosopher of the early 19th century. He also wrote that ideas could vary in intensity and energy, and that those with a certain level of energy could become conscious. His writings had an important influence on Freud\'s thinking.

Freud thought that the unconscious was not only a large area of stored experience and thought, but also an active mental area. This was shown by the fact that his patients could not explain, consciously, many aspects of their behaviour, except by free association which could eventually get back to the unconscious input. These Freud called the unconscious determinants of human behaviour. When he used the word unconscious he meant it in a dynamic sense: it is entirely unconscious and cannot be accessed directly, but only through interpretation of behaviours which result from unconscious pressures. The unconscious is ideas incapable of entering into the conscious part of the mind, but which nevertheless exert an enormous influence on our actions. MJ

Further reading Sigmund Freud, The Ego and the Id chapter 1; , Merton M. Gill, Topography and Systems in Psychoanalytical Theory.



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