Freud Unconscious Process

There has been considerable debate over the question of unconscious processes and how they govern human behavior. Some assert that people are often unaware of the most important things they do and others being equally adamant that any talk of unconscious processes is false. Freud believed that many mental operations are unconscious. The debate has become more intense by the rise to eminence of psychoanalysis. Since most people believe that they exercise absolutely efficient control over their behavior, they think that except for momentary lapses they know absolutely all what they are doing.

But there is considerable ground that this view is not justified. By definition, any behavior about which the individual is not communicating with himself is not under conscious control. People are actually unaware of most of the behaviors that they exhibit, for consciousness is highly selective. Main Body Many studies have shown that absolute and apparently logical sequences of behavior are carried through in individuals without their having remembered any conscious memory of the things they did (Macintyre 2004).

This unconscious behavior is very complex and long continued. It also may constitute only parts or fragments of a continuous series of behavior processes that is for the most part definitely conscious and is later subject to recollect. Every one has had the experience of going somewhere and arriving without remembering the series of actions of getting there. Old and familiar signs apparently gave unconsciousness the cue and one proceeded “mechanically. ” At this example focally conscious processes were occupied with other things.

The arrival at the destination interrupted the mechanical process by making it necessary for a person to orient himself anew to other objects. Other examples include the reading of a page of a book without understanding its content, doing the work such as cleaning, cooking or driving a car, or touching the hair while conversing with a friend or thinking about something else quite different from what he is saying (Macintyre 12). Ability to read expressive movements from the faces of other people is mostly unconscious.

One sees that someone is scared, envious, or not telling the truth, but he cannot identify specifically the processes that lead to such reasoning. The conclusion rests upon something that has been realized, but there is no awareness of it. This suggests that there are thousands of unconscious processes for which there are no linguistic symbols. Since there is no way in which they can be described, distinctions can be felt by intuition but cannot be interpreted – either to others or to oneself. Unconscious processes may arise from disregarding deliberately something that is distressing.

Such purposeful act of suppressing is a complex process. The individual initially tells himself that something he suspects is actually not there. He directs his attention elsewhere so that he does not see what may be rather evident to others. For example, a man who feels a sudden erotic attraction to someone who is his mother, his sister, his daughter, or the wife of his best friend believes that it is terrible even to think of such a probability. Thus, each man becomes accustomed to directing his eyes upon a number of attractive women around him as being sexually indifferent.

Another example of the complexity of the unconscious processes is sleepwalking. Sleepwalkers carry out a variety of dangerous actions requiring minute coordination. A person may get out of bed and drive his car for a long time before awakening unexpectedly to find himself on a unfamiliar highway. Or he may be aroused from his sleep by the screams of frightened people watching him walk along a ledge. The fine neuromuscular movements are evident, but there is no awareness until he wakes up to ask himself: “What am I doing here? ” (Bocock 50)

Conclusion There are a variety of things that people do without making indications to themselves. Psychoanalytic therapy indicates that once a person becomes aware of the existence of such indications, it will be possible to bring them under some measure of conscious control. It should be noted, however, that such consciousness and control can be achieved only with great difficulty.


Bocock, Robert. (2002). Sigmund Freud. Routledge: New York. Macintyre, Alasdair. (2004). The Unconscious: A Conceptual Analysis. Routledge: New York.