Affects and Cognition in a Social Theory of Unconscious Processes
This paper argues that affects and cognition cannot be separated in human consciousness and that human consciousness is fundamentally a social phenomenon. This contention is based on a number of arguments. First, research into brain functioning indicates that those centres of the brain that deal with emotion also deal with the capacity to select rational and moral actions. Second, is the argument that attachment and separation behaviours, that is, social acts, are essential for the human body’s capacity to regulate itself. Next, the paper reviews G. H. Mead’s theory of symbolic interactionism, according to which human consciousness and self consciousness arise in social acts so that the individual is social through and through. The notion of “the” unconscious is then explored. It is argued that this is a fundamentally individualistic notion of what is unconscious in human action and as such is incompatible with the contention that human consciousness is a social process. Suggestions are made for thinking of what is unconscious in terms of social processes. The paper concludes with a section on how one might think abut disturbance and pathology from the perspective of complex responsive processes.