The Dynamic Unconscious Revisited: The Role of Motivation, Affect, Embodiment and Intersubjectivity in Catching Ourselves Unawares

  • Doris McIlwain


Bringing to light a strand of Freud’s thought not acknowledged in contemporary debate establishes a single epistemic view of unconscious processes which blurs the current sharp distinction between a cognitive unconscious and a dynamic unconscious. The difference is one of degree (of affective and motivational influences) rather than a difference in kind. In the laboratory there is no question as to why material is processed at an unconscious level, because fleeting presentation or “masking” ensures its unconscious status. The question is what plays this role in real-life? Affective and motivational influences are implicated both in rendering material dynamically unconscious and in the means by which the mind grasps at its own activity, in how the habitual becomes open to the possible. These concerns bring to the fore the role of embodiment and intersubjectivity as means by which we become consciously aware, they are discussed within a psychoanalytic theory of mind with implications for a comprehensive theoretical and empirical psychology.


Conscious Awareness Contemporary Debate Psychoanalytic Theory Unconscious Process Causal Efficacy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doris McIlwain
    • 1
  1. 1.Macquarie UniversityAustralia

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