unthought known

an a to z of things that can't be said

The unthought known is a wonderful term, coined by the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas (1987). In very general terms it refers to what we ‘know’ at some level, but cannot be put into words. The detail of this ‘some level’ and why such knowledge cannot be said emerges from his understanding of how selfhood is formed through otherness:

‘the concept of the self should refer to the positions or points of view from which and through which we sense, feel, observe, and reflect on distinct and separate experiences in our being. One crucial point of view comes through the other who experiences us’ (pp. 9–10)

The ‘other’ is first experienced as a process of self-transformation, be it from hungry to full, cold to warm, discomforted to comfortable. But Bollas (1987) also claims that the pursuit of “symbolic equivalents” to the transformational object is in fact central to the identifications we make…

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About Katherine

I like poetry and history, literature and music.
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