Footnote to “Social Cognition and the Unconscious”

[1] This doesn’t mean there is nothing “erotic” about the unconscious: there is room for the erotic in all sorts of personal relations, and indeed in the joys of discovery (“Eureka!”). In psychoanalysis the erotic is understood as the “life force” (anima in Plato) and contrasted with Thanatos (the “death instinct”). We can preserve this aspect of Freudian theory without supposing that the male infant actually desires sex with his mother (or the female infant with her father—the so-called “Electra complex”). There is indeed a lot of “positive affect” in the unconscious, but it need not take the form of thoughts of actual incest! Freud’s specific theories do a disservice to his general conception.

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