Theories of Personality 9th Edition

(やまだぃちぅ) #1

30 Part II Psychodynamic Theories

disguised form. Some of these images never become conscious because if we
recognized them as derivatives of the unconscious, we would experience increased
levels of anxiety, which would activate the final censor to repress these anxiety-
loaded images, forcing them back into the unconscious. Other images from the
unconscious do gain admission to consciousness, but only because their true nature
is cleverly disguised through the dream process, a slip of the tongue, or an elabo-
rate defensive measure.


Consciousness, which plays a relatively minor role in psychoanalytic theory,
can be defined as those mental elements in awareness at any given point in time.
It is the only level of mental life directly available to us. Ideas can reach con-
sciousness from two different directions. The first is from the perceptual
conscious system, which is turned toward the outer world and acts as a medium
for the perception of external stimuli. In other words, what we perceive through
our sense organs, if not too threatening, enters into consciousness (Freud,
The second source of conscious elements is from within the mental structure
and includes nonthreatening ideas from the preconscious as well as menacing but
well-disguised images from the unconscious. As we have seen, these latter images
escaped into the preconscious by cloaking themselves as harmless elements and
evading the primary censor. Once in the preconscious, they avoid a final censor
and come under the eye of consciousness. By the time they reach the conscious
system, these images are greatly distorted and camouflaged, often taking the form
of defensive behaviors or dream elements.
In summary, Freud (1917/1963, pp. 295–296) compared the unconscious
to a large entrance hall in which many diverse, energetic, and disreputable peo-
ple are milling about, crowding one another, and striving incessantly to escape
to a smaller adjoining reception room. However, a watchful guard protects the
threshold between the large entrance hall and the small reception room. This
guard has two methods of preventing undesirables from escaping from the
entrance hall—either turn them back at the door or throw out those people who
earlier had clandestinely slipped into the reception room. The effect in either
case is the same; the menacing, disorderly people are prevented from coming
into view of an important guest who is seated at the far end of the reception
room behind a screen. The meaning of the analogy is obvious. The people in
the entrance hall represent unconscious images. The small reception room is the
preconscious and its inhabitants represent preconscious ideas. People in the
reception room (preconscious) may or may not come into view of the important
guest who, of course, represents the eye of consciousness. The doorkeeper who
guards the threshold between the two rooms is the primary censor that prevents
unconscious images from becoming preconscious and renders preconscious
images unconscious by throwing them back. The screen that guards the impor-
tant guest is the final censor, and it prevents many, but not all, preconscious
elements from reaching consciousness. The analogy is presented graphically in
Figure 2.1.
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