Internal conversation and repression

At some point I’d like to write up an argument I’ve had floating around in my head for years about how repression, as a psychic process, could be understood through the lens of internal conversation. The realist approach to internal conversation suggests that our inner life should not be understood in terms of ocular metaphors (an inner eye which turns to observe a domain of inner privacy) but rather the conversations we have with ourselves rather than with external others.

From this perspective I’d suggest that ‘repression’ is not a hydraulic psychic phenomenon in which an inclination towards certain kind of inner experience is suppressed by a countervailing resistance, but rather a reluctance to follow certain inner conversations through to their otherwise inevitable conclusion; an unacknowledged inclination to let inner dialogues to continue through their own internal logic, failing to finish a conversation rather than suppressing it. It’s a subtle conceptual distinction but I think it’s an important one: how we bring something we’re doing to an early and artificial end rather than something we actively do in order to prevent doing something else.

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