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Hidden Desires and Secret Thoughts:

Are We In Control of Our Selves?

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  • The Debate

    Hidden Desires and Secret Thoughts

    Many have been sceptical of Freud's claim that unconscious desires control our lives. Yet recent studies show the conscious brain processes only a tiny fraction of the brain as a whole. Are hidden desires and secret thoughts driving our actions, or is our conscious brain in full control?

    The Panel

    Clinical psychologist and author of Madness Explained Richard Bentall, philosopher of mind Barry C. Smith, and BBC New Generation Thinker Shahida Bari uncover the unconscious.

  • Find out more about speakers

Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • Shahidha Bari
    The Pitch
    What we do is heavily determined by unconscious desires
  • Barry C Smith
    The Pitch
    The Freudian model of bottom up determination of our action is wrong
  • Richard Bentall
    The Pitch
    The unconscious exists, but we are asking the wrong questions.
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    Is there an unconscious and, if so, what is it?
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    Are there thoughts which cannot be consciously accessed?
  • The Debate
    Theme Three
    Can we have full control of our actions?
Want to learn more about our speakers?
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durre on 14/01/2016 4:55pm

Freud never got the Nobel for Literature but the Goethe Award for Literature...

A-Blong on 14/01/2016 2:41pm

As Bentall says, its interesting with regards to literary criticism but that doesn't make it true or useful to psychiatric practice. We can hypothesise as much as we like, creating these just-so stories, but what's really interesting is harnessing this unknown aspect of the mind for therapy, looking at the placebo effect he mentions.

ClassicalKoi on 14/01/2016 2:04pm

Shahidha makes a good point - if we distance ourselves from Freud's focus on analysing the content of dreams, which we seem to obsess over, then we can realise that he offers us a certain freedom through the unconscious. Knowing that there may be unexplained/unconscious causes to our actions opens up vast possibilities for those actions.

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