We can conceive of a preparatory stage in the history of an idea that precedes its appearance in consciousness. In previous chapters we have spoken of nascent or unfocussed interest in the unconscious. This view is based upon the conception that the force that reveals itself as interest wells up from the deeper levels of the psyche, or in other words that the unconscious can be identified with Source. In the dream, consciousness descends, as it were, from the focussed arena of waking life to the unfocussed planes beneath it. And here it meets nascent interest under the form of a symbol. It meets that which is coming up, and it meets it in that form that belongs to the stage of development of that particular level of the psyche. It is embryonic thought or feeling, and as it passes upwards towards consciousness it develops progressively until it assumes a form that is immediately comprehensible to the conscious life. It becomes focussed. Its meaning now becomes clear. The process may be compared to the growth of a seed buried in the ground. From the surface of the ground it is impossible to tell what is coming up save by digging down and examining the earth. If we find a hyacinth bulb we can predict that in process of time a hyacinth will appear. The bulb is the nascent form of the hyacinth. If we look on the bulb as a symbol, then it is a symbol with a prospective meaning. In the same way the symbols that are encountered in the deep levels of the psyche during sleep are the germinating seeds of the flowers that will appear in consciousness.
The conception that the unconscious contains primitive ways of thinking which belong to the evolutionary background of man is supported by the myth formations that are found in dreams. The prevalence of myths that are identical in the history of races that are geographically widely "separated is to be explained on the grounds of a psychological similarity rather than on the grounds of a propagation by word of mouth. They are innate in the human psyche as tendencies that clothe themselves in forms of expression which belong to environment. Thus in their outward symbolism they appear to differ. In the same way, in the case of the individual, the tendencies in his unconscious clothe themselves in symbols which belong to his own environment. The dream makes use of the incidents of the day in much the same way as people make use of the costumes and draperies in an ordinary house when they suddenly decide to play charades. All their elaborate silent pantomime merely symbolizes the meaning of a word which the onlookers must guess by interpretation. The spectators, the actors, and the material that they use form a system that is in some degree comparable to the conscious, the unconscious, and the symbols that belong to the whole human psyche.
To the conception that the unconscious is Source and that through its various levels, which correspond to states of consciousness peculiar to the past ages of racial development, there is a constant welling-up of energy towards the level of the present-day consciousness, we must add another conception. Whatever we neglect or avoid, whatever we dislike or fear, whatever disgusts or irritates us, tends to pass out of consciousness. We may push it out by a forcible process of repression, or it may disappear as the result of a process that is not directly conscious. Some sensitive types repress only with great difficulty, while some tough extravert types get rid of what is disagreeable so easily that it seems scarcely correct to say that they repress. Where does repressed material go ? It goes into the marginal or into the unconscious psyche. It may reappear in dreams. The more it is charged with emotion, the more will it seek expression. If then the psyche surrounding consciousness is filled with repressed material, charged with emotion, it would seem evident that an energy-system must arise that will interfere with the expression of the nascent formations that are continually welling up from the unconscious. The energy system belonging to the repressed material may therefore express itself in the dream to the exclusion of the energy that is coming from Source up through the deep levels of the psyche. Since our present attitudes towards life entail a great amount of repression, it is natural to find in the dreams of ordinary people a great amount of that material which they have repressed. Thus it comes about that much of what we can extract from dreams in their superficial application is unpleasant to the individual.
The Freudian conception of the unconscious seems to concern itself only with repressed material. The Freudian method of psycho-analysis seeks to liberate this repressed material. According to the process of interpretation which is adopted by this school we find that it is wholly sexual in its nature. The most interesting example of this process of interpretation may be found in the opening dream in Freud's " Traumdeutung." In this example the possibilities of the situation, as depicted by the author's dream-psyche, are narrowed down to an interpretation that fits in with the theory of the sexual wish-fulfilment. The most striking interpretation of all is not discussed.
If the unconscious consists solely of repressed material, what happens when this repressed material is liberated ? Can it be said that any unconscious remains, and if so, what is its function ? Are we to conclude that primitive man had no unconscious ? Prom the teleological point of view of the Zurich school, when the repressed psychic material surrounding consciousness is liberated and properly assimilated into the conscious life, there remains the unconscious. It is now freed from encumbrances that the person has put upon it during his life. The nascent material travelling towards consciousness will now, without confusion, form the material of the dream, and so we may expect that a foreshadowing element will enter into the dream-life.
The conception of repression requires to be studied very carefully. It is not possible to take up the view thai? accumulations in the unconscious result only from what has been thrust out of consciousness, for it is evident that non-expression may produce the same effects as repression. An illustration from Croce can be given here. An author seeks to give expression in a single word to a state of feeling in himself. After many vain attempts, now approaching, now receding, from his goal, he suddenly attains the desired expression and experiences a feeling of relief. Until he found the exact word he experienced some degree of displeasure which arose not from repression but from non-expression. Now Freud would see in this struggle to attain the perfect expression evidence of a barrier connected with repressed sexuality. He bases his theory of memory on the assumption that we forget only what is unpleasant, and that what is unpleasant always leads, on analysis, into sexual material that is incompatible with conscious life. The struggle then of the author to bring the right word into consciousness is to be looked upon as due ultimately to a resistance set up by the opposition of consciousness to repressed sexual material in the unconscious. Preud calls this opposing factor in consciousness the moral censor, and he looks on it as acquired through education and punishment. For him, all morality is acquired and is imposed from without upon the individual. There is no help to be sought from within, for the unconscious is like a Zoo in the heart of a great city, full of caged beasts.
Now the struggle of the author to find the perfect word is from the point of view of Croce an example of a universal impulse in man to attain fullest expression. Where we have fullest expression there we have beauty. Where expression is inadequate we have ugliness, and where we have ugliness we have inadequate consciousness. This point of view can be applied to the neurosis, and I have endeavoured to show in the cases of the patient R. and the patient 0. how the wrong use of interest brought about their maladies. In other words, they were not expressing themselves adequately. The path of right expression was not to be found by interrogating the conscious, but it lay under the form of symbols in the unconscious. The non-expressed part of these patients is not to be looked upon as active repression in the Preudian sense, but as non-expression or as non-realization of unexpressed interest. If we recall the illustration of the master, the servant, and the act of violence, the conscious attitudes of these patients resembled that of the master, who was totally ignorant of the circumstances of his servants' existence. It is impossible to regard this kind of non-realization or ignorance as repression.
The significance that has been given to the unconscious in this volume is one that links up with the Aristotelian conception of an entelechy, or a form-giving cause or principle. It preserves the form in the present, and at the same time seeks for new form in the future. It is that principle that Driesch calls in as an explanation of his experiment on the embryo of a sea-urchin. If this embryo is divided, we can observe cells, which normally would have produced special parts of an individual sea-urchin, develop into complete individual sea-urchins. This teleological view of the unconscious gives a value to its symbolism that is purposive. It has an aim that is corrective, healing or developmental, just as the forces governing the physical body have these aims. A struggle, then, may arise in man between his self-conscious will and that entelechy which surrounds him.