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Cultural-historical psychology: interdisciplinary research perspectives & social practices

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

ISBN: 978-5-94051-174-8

Published in 2017


From Unconscious to Sexuality: an analysis since Historical-Cultural Psychology

Full text

Our theme is about to consider the relations between unconscious contents and sexuality, which permeate the development of human consciousness and, respectively, the higher psychological processes of the subjects, among them the sexual identity. Therefore, we understand that there is a broad relationship between the development of psyche and sexuality, and also consider that the human psyche encompasses the conscious aspects as well as the unconscious issues.

It should be clarified that Vygotsky sought to find a way to overcome the dichotomy present in all psychological science. The author sought in the epistemological assumptions of Historical-Dialectical Materialism the solid bases for this construction, generating an intense debate between the idealist and materialist lines. In this conception, there is a dynamic and permanent relation, based on objective reality, in which conscious and unconscious are understood as different qualities of the same object, a relation in which one does not dilute in the other, but also in that one does not exist without the other.

Our initial thesis, however tentative it may be, understands that the unconscious relates to sexuality through non-verbal (sentimental-emotional) structures and processes, allowing the subject to develop their sexual identifi cations even without understanding them, that is, to develop abstractions to understand how the external reality is affecting it. Therefore, if consciousness represents the synthesis of the relation established between meanings (as social-sexual processes) and the personal senses, it is the absence of these two types that characterizes the unconscious in subjectivity. This, in turn, is formed primarily by emotional tone, as a targeting of the intensity of sentimental states (affection- pleasure) that guide the subject to a given object, signal their interest, but which he may not understand (and, therefore, explain), even if they interfere with the way he develops his identification with sexuality.

However, the senses may become unconscious because they do not gain a representation in the form of a sign such as an image, a word, which would enable their representations in consciousness. In this case, even though I do not know which emotion refers to the tone that drives me to something (or someone - as long as I desire), in a second moment I can have the awareness that it was a specific feeling towards the other (distinct from me) which I did not remember.

Therefore, the meaning I have constructed is unconscious, due to the impossibility of representing it fully: sense and meaning. Once the unconscious is discoverable, it becomes necessary for the subject to acquire new elements that allow him to assign a more elaborate or developed sense, and thus increase his consciousness. This circumstantial shift from unconscious to conscious enables subjects to insert themselves into reality in order to dominate it, thus allowing their emancipation as a human. Thus, we generate some assumptions that do not aim to identify a normal or pathological identity, but rather to understand the development of this identity process.

We understand that the sexual identity is the synthesis of a dialectic process between consciousness and unconscious that is contributed in the biological base, in specific in the body, and from which the subject develops a psychological structuring initiated by the socialization in its social group. As a result, the subject may or may not identify with certain psychic and social characteristics referenced for their anatomical sex, depending on the mediating elements that will be available and will enable the conversion of the unconscious into conscious (and vice versa). That is, how the emotional tone present in the unconscious will guide their conscious object choices will lead the subject to a positioning and identification before the sphere of sexuality.

Other issues refer to the continued development of a sexual identity, not the fixity of this structuring, for the conscious and unconscious relationship will always be dynamic; the non-exclusive appropriation of male and female attitudes and behavior; the development of a sexual identity that encompasses both social and historical aspects, as well as the constituent elements of the subject’s consciousness and unconscious (Higher Psychological Functions and mediators); the revalidation of the sphere of pleasure, as a possibility for directing the emotional aspects or, still, the emotional tone; and the markings imposed by capitalist society before the development of sexual identities. This means considering that the dialectical presuppositions of contradiction and dynamicity allow us to work with the existence of a contradictory, multiple and pluri-determined reality that is evidenced in the relation between the  subject and the object in the process of psychic development, guarded by the conscious and unconscious elements.


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Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

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