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(2012) Founding psychoanalysis phenomenologically, Dordrecht, Springer.

Body memory and the unconscious

Thomas Fuchs

pp. 69-82

In traditional psychoanalysis the unconscious was conceived as a ­primary intra-psychic reality, hidden "below consciousness' and only accessible to a "depth psychology' based on metapsychological premises and concepts. In contrast to this vertical conception, the present paper presents a phenomenological approach to the unconscious as a horizontal dimension of the lived body, lived space and intercorporeality. This approach is based on a phenomenology of body memory which is defined as the totality of implicit dispositions of perception and behavior mediated by the body and sedimented in the course of earlier experiences. What belongs to body memory, therefore, is what perseveres, not in the form of an explicit memory, but as a "style of existence" (Merleau-Ponty). This corporeal and intercorporeal unconscious "… is not to be sought in our innermost [psyche] behind the back of our "consciousness', but before us, as the structure of our field" (Merleau-Ponty). Unconscious fixations are like restrictions in the spatial potentiality of a person, caused by a past which is implicit in the present and resists the progress of life; this includes traumatic experiences in particular. Their traces are not hidden in an interior psychic world, but manifest themselves – as in a figure-background relationship – in the form of "blind spots" or "empty spaces" in ­day-to-day living. They manifest themselves in behavior patterns into which a ­person repeatedly blunders, in actions that she avoids without being aware of it or in the opportunities offered by life which she does not dare to take or even to see. The unconscious of body memory is thus characterized by the absence of forgotten or repressed experiences, and at the same time by their corporeal and intercorporeal presence in the lived space and in the day-to-day life of a person. "-- End of Abstract'

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-1848-7_4

Full citation:

Fuchs, T. (2012)., Body memory and the unconscious, in D. Lohmar & J. Brudzińska (eds.), Founding psychoanalysis phenomenologically, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 69-82.

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