On the Unconscious
Keywords:The psychology of the unconscious, Puységur, Kleist, Animal magnetism, Mesmerism, Hypnotism
This article presents what has been called the long past and the brief history of the psychology of the unconscious. Laying out the main developments in 18th-century psychological research, paranormal experimentation, and philosophy of mind, it expands on the belief, held by a few controversial but brilliant minds, that empirical science could put the foundations under some of the main tropes of romantic literature – and that the mysteries of the soul could be unlocked through systematic research. A thorough section on the phenomenon of somnambulism discusses the belief that radically differently personalities exist side by side in the human psyche, which doubles as a portrait of an era when scientists and artists appeared united in the pursuit of comprehending the human condition – and to some degree learned from each other in the process. The article also contains an analysis of Heinrich von Kleist’s ‘The Engagement in St. Domingo’ and argues that it can be appreciated as a dramatization of some of the thinking and science discussed in earlier sections.
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Copyright: The authors and Aarhus University Press