The evolution of the unconscious

Psychoanalysis is reconceptualized as the scientific study of conflicting biological propensities. According to neo-Darwinian theory self-deception arose as a result of an evolutionary arms race between intraspecific deception and detection amongst hominids. The evolution of self-deception modified an earlier split between conscious and unconscious mental activities. Unconscious social cognition emerged to avoid conscious overload when dealing with highly complex Machiavellian social relations. Evolutionary theory suggests that countertransference, in the classical Freudian sense of the word, is inevitable. Psychoanalytic clinical literature provides support for the hypothesis of unconscious social cognition, as does cognitive science. Evolutionary theory suggests that unconscious responses to the psychoanalytic situation should be particularly responses to modifications of the frame. A clinical example is presented.

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