Cover image for Hidden minds : a history of the unconscious
Hidden minds : a history of the unconscious
Tallis, Frank.
Personal Author:
First North American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub., [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 194 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
BF315 .T32 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The unconscious has long been a murky subject, but clinical psychiatrist Tallis combines his medical skills with ability as a novelist to cast a fascinating light on it. In some 200 pages, he presents the history of the unconscious from Leibniz to Pierre Janet and Freud to current experimentation, and he emphasizes that the unconscious is now at the heart of neuroscience. He describes historic medical and scientific advances and the individuals who made them, and he draws on Coleridge, DeQuincey, Moss Hart, and other writers to show how the literate public viewed the unconscious at various times. His treatment of Janet is outstanding; the retiring philosophy teacher conceived and reported his groundbreaking research to demonstrate that physical problems could have psychological origins and that cures could be effected by working with each problem separately. Some 30 years later, in 1916, Freud stated that discovering the importance of the unconscious matched the shattering theories of Copernicus and Darwin in scientific consequence. Many will enjoy and benefit from Tallis' fine exposition. --William Beatty

Publisher's Weekly Review

As British clinical psychiatrist and novelist Tallis (How to Stop Worrying) notes, Freud famously claimed to have delivered the "third and most wounding blow" to humanity's "naive self-love" by exposing the power of unconscious processes-the first two blows having been dealt by Copernicus and Darwin. Though Freud's reputation has been waning for the last 30 years, Tallis sifts current reports and argues that science has vindicated Freud's sweeping claim. Most of the history here, however, is of the idea of the unconscious, from Augustine and Leibniz through 19th-century opium dreams and hypnotic therapies to Freud's psychoanalytic theory and its aftermath. The book is strongest when reporting the post-Freudian research that has built a new understanding of unconscious processes, including ingeniously designed empirical studies of self-deception, first impressions, preconscious volition and subliminal influence. But Tallis's argument weakens when it tries to tie all the pieces together in explicit support of Freud. Tallis has to work hard rhetorically to relate the unconscious mapped by contemporary scientists to the Freudian version. He tries to strengthen Freud's blow by attempting to demonstrate that our conscious self and free will are illusions, and maybe even that Buddhism is right-that the world is, too. But these claims go far beyond his well-presented empirical evidence, extending into philosophy without the necessary nuance and rigor. At best, the literature review here provides a unique narrative of a key modern construct's development. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A renewed interest in the nature of the unconscious is evident in the publication of several books on the subject this fall: Timothy Wilson's Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive, Barry Opatow's Psychoanalysis as a Theory of Consciousness and Willy Apollon's After Lacan: Clinical Practice and the Subject of the Unconscious. This work, a brief but thorough overview of the unconscious as a concept from the Enlightenment to modern times, is perhaps the most accessible. A clinical psychiatrist and award-winning fiction writer, Tallis offers a roughly chronological approach that begins with Wilhelm Liebnez's groundbreaking rebuttal to John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding and then goes on to describe how conceptions have changed with the emergence of new ideas, such as Romanticism, Darwinism, and computer technology. Not surprisingly, considerable space is given to the dominant influence of Freud and his early adherents, such as Carl Jung. Tallis also includes accounts of early experimenters with the unconscious mind, such as Franz Mesmer (an early hypnotist and the source of the term mesmerized), the manipulation of the unconscious in subliminal advertising, and its appearance in art and literature. Highly readable and possessing a surprising degree of depth, this book manages to be both entertaining and informative. Recommended for all public libraries.-David Valencia, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Washington (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.