Before Freud was even born, Schopenhauer expounded what is normally thought of as Freud’s theory of repression, a theory which Freud himself pronounced to be the cornerstone of psychoanalysis. Furthermore, Schopenhauer provided all the necessary connecting links in the argument: at length and in detail, and with memorable examples, he spelled out that the greater part of our own inner lives is unknown to us; that it is unknown to us because it is repressed; that it is repressed because to face up to it would cause us a degree of disturbance that we could not handle; that this is so because it does not fit in with the view of ourselves that we wish to maintain; that this incompatibility is caused by high levels of such things as sexual motivation, self-seeking, aggression, envy, fear and cruelty whose presence within us we do not wish to acknowledge, not even in the secrecy of our own thoughts; and so we deceive ourselves about what our own characters and motivations are, allowing only such interpretations of them to appear in our conscious minds as we can deal with.
Bryan Magee (from Confessions of a Philosopher, 1997)
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