The mind beyond our immediate awareness: Freudian, Jungian, and cognitive models of the unconscious

J Anal Psychol. 2004 Nov;49(5):657-82. doi: 10.1111/j.0021-8774.2004.00494.x.


Several branches of cognitive science now focus on the nature of the unconscious. This paper explores some of the findings and models from this research. By introducing formulations based on non-clinical data, the cognitive scientists--in neural linguistics, computational modelling, and neuroscience--may depart from the older psychoanalytic formulations. An understanding of unconscious neural processes is nevertheless emerging showing how synapses are modified by experience and how learning, conscious and unconscious, is due to this important aspect of brain plasticity. Freud and Jung's formulations about the unconscious psyche, representing the main tenets of depth psychology, are also based on a conception of the mind as extending beyond immediate awareness. However, their models are more hypothetical in that their data, almost exclusively, come from treatments of psychotherapy patients and their verbal accounts. So how do these two conceptions of the unconscious match, where do they differ? And how does the neural understanding in the present research support theories and practices of analytic treatments?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Science / methods
  • Freudian Theory*
  • Humans
  • Jungian Theory*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Unconscious, Psychology*