Turning the ego and the id upside down.
Solms rests his theory on the observation that consciousness depends on the extended reticulothalamic activating system (ERTAS). This is located in the upper brain stem, i.e., well below the cortex. Thus, he extends ERTAS to embrace both the awakeness and the self-awareness aspects of consciousness. In this, he agrees with, and indeed cites, both Damasio and Panksepp. Thus, it is the feelings of our emotions, termed affects, that impel us to behave in this way or that. Hence, he concludes that Freud’s id is in fact conscious. Conversely, he says, the ego, which is located cortically, only enters consciousness when triggered by the id.
The second half of the paper is devoted to the workings of memory in the cortex and how to deal with repressed memories. He proposes that such memories are learned cortically. They are consolidated or ‘automatized’ sub-cortically. These memories then become unconscious and unchanging. They cannot be retrieved consciously but the emotions they inspire are perceived consciously as affects. Psychoanalysts or psychopharmacologists are able to treat these affects but not the repressed memories themselves.
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