On the Unconscious as Faith in Hidden Meaning at the Twilight of Analysis

David Zachary Hafner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Dreams are fragmented and fragmenting; we find in them the most blatant paradoxes, where impossible is nothing. Resisting realist knowledge in favor of elaborating our truer motivations, they reveal us as moral relativists, showing the idiosyncratic fundamentalism grounding our ethics. In the realm of Nyx, we depict ourselves as we are (Freud, 1900). Freudian psychoanalysis rests on a few fundamental discoveries. In addition to the above-mentioned nature of dreams, they include but are not limited to the notion that life is fundamentally suffering, with many humans choosing partial blindness over conflictual truth, that the human condition involves unresolvable otherness, that though language distorts thought, it rarely if ever depicts with precision a given qualia such as a dreaming experience (Gleitman & Papafragou, 2010), and that the endless variety of symptoms found in the psychoanalysis are singular responses to underlying painful conditions of humanity (Hill, 2001). “The phenomenology of the psyche is so colorful, so variegated in form and meaning, that we cannot possibly reflect all its riches in one mirror. Nor in our description of it can we embrace the whole, but must be content to shed light only on single parts of the total phenomena” (Jung, 1975, p.85). Through the self-analysis of his dreams, Freud established that the unconscious constitutes an immutable aspect of human psychology. To communicate the obstinate persistence of unconscious patterns Freud encountered, he alluded to the spirits of Homer’s Odyssey, the shades of Erebus who drink sacrificial blood and wine libations to return to the land of the living and offer wisdom (Orozco, 2011). These shades, as the unconscious in Freud’s works, are indestructible; unconscious desire never exhausts itself. Perhaps unconscious representations are only perceptible when they are attached to conscious associations, the kind of associations we stumble upon in free association, drawn up through excitation or desire, but in Freudian metapsychology, the unconscious remains forever active. To climb out of the cave of shadows, though tricky, is momentarily possible; but to avoid backsliding into the hall of mirrors, there’s the rub. It follows that if everyone’s crazy, it’s because all discourses are defenses against the underlying unpleasantness, and we construct these because we perceive the true state of things to be unbearable.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking the Relation between Women and Psychoanalysis: Loss, Mourning, and the Feminine
EditorsHada Soria Escalante
Place of PublicationLanham, MD
PublisherLexington Books
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)1793605793, 978-1793605795
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2019

Publication series

NamePsychoanalytic Studies: Clinical, Social, and Cultural Contexts
Publisher Lexington Books


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