Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

The Amplifying Unconscious (Part 1)

Originally posted on January 17, 2011

In this series of essays on my blog I am proposing the existence of not one but two types of unconscious functions: The first involves the more familiar complexes of disowned childish motivations and their associated reconciling mental maneuvers—what most psychotherapists learn about and treat. The second type of unconscious function amplifies, intensifies, and operates far more cleverly and rapidly to serve the aggregate intentions of the person, supporting its positivity, its negativity, or its muddy-middle avoidance of consciousness. While the first type is relatively more accessible to analysis using somewhat rational methods—and, indeed, introducing a more mature set of rational procedures significantly clarifies the muddy nature of this type of unconsciousness!—. the second type, the amplifying unconscious, is far more symbolic, operates more in terms of myth and action, and generally responds only indirectly to outside influence.

A broader appreciation of psychology would seek to understand phenomena that ranges from simple flaws in rationality to experiences for which we have no adequate language. This paper attempts to offer a conceptual bridge to the second type, the “amplifying unconscious,” the dynamics of which are inexplicable in ordinary rational terms. It seems as if this domain may involve the tendency of psychic energy, positive, negative, or mixed, to be reflected in an amplified form and thus reinforce the intentions and emotions of the complexes of the people projecting that energy.

This essay emerged in late 2010 as I noticed some common themes in a wide range of generally inexplicable phenomena, including such things as: dreams ; lucid dreaming ; psychedelic phenomena ; shamanistic phenomena ; psychosomatic illness ; hypnosis and trance phenomena ; “past life” memories ;  clairvoyance and other so-called psychic phenomena and abilities ; faith healing and other as-yet-inexplicable psychosomatic phenomena ; the phenomena of meaningful coincidences (also known as “synchronicity”) ; the relationship of synchronicity and what some call “Grace” or angelic “guidance” ; the nature of artistic, scientific, or other kinds of inspiration, genius, or savant phenomena ; some of the as-yet unexplained phenomena associated with schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, psychosis, and other types of major mental illness ; terrible cruelty to others ; various forms of fanaticism and eccentricity; cult phenomena ; the experience of epiphany, breakthrough, being born again ; feeling that one has been “possessed” by positive or negative archetypal spirits; the experience of “flow” and other phenomena associated with creativity ; etc.

I was delighted to discover that Edward F. Kelly, Emily W. Kelly and Adam Crabtree have written a book titled Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century (published in 2007 by Rowman & Littlefield of Lanham Maryland), and that this book covered some of the points I would be inclined to make. On the other hand, I think that my thoughts might complement theirs as we explore this frontier.

Is this a psychology for the 21st century? Yes, but what we’re talking about requires that we go beyond depth psychology and include philosophy—and more specifically, metaphysics. The question to be posed is whether mind deserves to be recognized as having its own ontological status—that it constitutes a reality or at least a valid part of reality. Considering the true nature of mind, its power, its energetic systems, its interconnectivity with other minds, leads to  includes some consideration , with metaphysical assumptions about the nature of mind and its power, leads to an alteration of how we imagine the location of mind. Is it confined to the individual’s physical brain and its functions or might it transcend the boundaries of the cranium.

Interestingly, this shift in how we imagine the brain seems to be one of the ways that people imbued with the world-view of the 20th century differ from those who have come to the world-view of the 21st century. The very idea that there could be such a thing as “psychic energy” clashes with the mainstream of “modern” 20th century thought. Admittedly, there have been many who have been less mainstream who have espoused many of these notions and indeed, some of these ideas have been brought up repeatedly for millennia!

(In my own personal journey, Until the last few months, I’ve not been able to imagine how these new ideas might jibe with what I’ve learned, but various readings, encounters, and contemplations have shifted my thinking, and this series of papers represents my attempt at making a conceptual bridge between the two world-views. Looking back, my various studies prepared me for this leap, and I must give credit to a wide range of influences, including the process philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne and others; contemplations about kabbalah and other esoteric psycho-spiritual systems; and so forth.)

The modern world-view is scientific, but the spirit of science can also be open to the unknown. The idea that we can explore only those phenomena that can be explainable in terms of our present world-view is a distortion of the true spirit of science. For example, Benjamin Franklin in the mid-late 18th century experimented with the new phenomenon of electricity. He came up with some enduring insights, however partial, even though his explorations were far from fully explainable in terms of what was then known. Only decades after his death were many more refined abilities of electricity elucidated (e.g., magnetism, radio waves), and over two centuries would pass before even more refined capabilities of electricity were discovered (e.g., television, radar, super-conductivity, etc.). The point here is that opening a new arena for exploration can lead to the addressing of mysteries associated with that domain that may require centuries to unfold.

[Comment on the Format: This will be a series of mini-papers that may include four to six or more parts published over the next week. They are meant to evoke from you thoughtful comments that I will then respond to and possibly incorporate in further papers. Let me know whether or not you want your name acknowledged if you send in a comment, and I reserve the right to edit what you say. Of course, you can then write and say that I didn’t get it right, but that’s what true dialogue is about. I’ll try to get it right.]

6 Responses to “The Amplifying Unconscious (Part 1)”

  • “The modern world-view is scientific, but the spirit of science can also be open to the unknown. The idea that we can explore only those phenomena that can be explainable in terms of our present world-view is a distortion of the true spirit of science.”

    I like this quote and will study this column more thoroughly. I will consider for our new psychodrama & constellation book.

  • Andrea Offner says:

    Verbal interventions often have limited access to the inside of anyone’s skull. It is in the fields of the Arts – where non-verbal communication has full voice, that we begin to experience worlds that we have not previously been aware of. The processing of these experiences occur in different neurological regions than words do, offering a more powerful and certainly “less-defended” doorway into alternate views. The 21st century esoteric, psycho-spiritual approaches have the most likely possibility of provoking cognitive leaps when they are steeped in music, ritual, drama, and other traditional forms of expression.

  • […] [Please see Part 1 for an introduction to this: I am suggesting a second type of unconscious process that is far more powerful, less rational, far quicker in processing, far more clever, and that this hypothesis accounts for many previously-inexplicable psychological phenomena.] […]

  • Your ideas about 2 kinds of Ucs may be somewhat similar to the primary and secondary process, well described and discussed by Pinchas Noy in various papers:

  • Terry Teaters says:

    We may well be talking about more than two categories. An example of this might be found in Ken Wilbur’s theory about a spectrum of consciousness. In this regard the mind might genuinely be irreducible, as Crabtree suggests, thus we cannot know what we cannot know. It is totally beyond the reductionist approach of science, but it is almost certainly within the realm of mysticism.

  • […] a recent series of blogs I laid out my provisional theory of the amplifying unconscious, a way of speaking about psychic […]

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