At first glance, one of the first statements in Freud ‘s work “The Unconscious” gives an exhaustive answer to the question of the admissibility of the existence of unconscious affects. The scientist writes: “Everything that happens in the mental sphere cannot be known to consciousness.” Thus, the existence of unconscious affects could easily be admitted. But it is worth turning to the very definition of affect and trying to understand whether Freud was talking about it when he noted the existence of mental acts devoid of consciousness: unconscious love, hatred, rage, etc.
Affect is always looking for a way out, it is energy, an expression of attraction that is hard not to notice if you are a living person. In other words, this is a consequence of some unconscious process, the result of some processing of the drive. Indeed, analysis presupposes the independence of various latent mental processes, which seem to “know nothing about each other.” The question now is whether an affective reaction can be such a mental process and go unnoticed by consciousness. And if so, do we have the right to consider it as such?
First of all, the mechanism described by Freud (as he saw it) of the transformation of attraction into affect and the collision of the latter with repression helps me to answer this. It turns out that repression, as it were, breaks the attraction on the way out of the unconscious into representation and affect. And at the same time delays them on the way to the conscious area. What goes there? Perhaps it is better to call it the remnants of representation and the echo of affect. The repressed, as Freud writes , remains alien to consciousness. This means that what is reworked by repression ceases to be an affect in one way or another. From which we can conclude that it is impossible for an affect to exist in the unconscious.
In the end, it is worth returning to the fact that Freud uses specific terms, which cannot be deviated from, in order to preserve the logic of his conclusions and, accordingly, build new ones if you are going to ask questions. And in the paradigm of Freud’s interpretations, defining affect as a process of releasing energy, one can ask oneself the only question: if in order to classify an expressed emotion as an affect, one must be aware of it, can such an unconscious be considered an affect? It is quite obvious that it is not, since the terms “drive”, “representation” and “repression” are available to us.
The harmony of this theory, it seems to me, is firmly based on the strict preservation of the connections established by Freud between specific concepts and the terms used to name them, as well as on determining in which area of the psyche this or that process takes place, how they are interconnected. However, even for a moment, if one proceeds from the contrary and assumes that the affect can be unconscious, then what could be used in favor of this assumption?
I think it would make sense to speculate about whether an affect is possible during sleep, if we assume that a certain discharge occurred, some sensations were recorded, perhaps even emotions, but the memory of this, the transition to the conscious area, occurred later, as if verifying this fact and validating it. True, here the question arises: is it not the moment of this confirmation of what happened that will evoke the necessary emotions, allowing you to talk about the affect that happened only after waking up? Yes, it seems that, most likely, affect is impossible without awareness of what is happening. At least, if we talk honestly and to the logical end, then it always turns out to be part of the perceived, that is, the conscious area.
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