Michel Heller

Psychotherapist Lausanne

Aqualide

The aqualide is the editing system of the mind. It coordinates all the events that occur in human nature, and selects the contents that become conscious.

I) In Freud’s 1900 Topic of the Mind, one finds several crucial articulations which require editing and translation of information.

 

  1. In the senses physical stimulation is transformed into neurological activity. This neurological activity has a set intensity that can be far less intense than extreme cold or extreme brightness. Each sensory organ reacts to different types of stimulations, but they are all translated into the same type of neurological information. Thus, these initially varied forms of information can be associated and memorized.
  2. The next editing system translates neurological dynamics into psychological representations that can eventually be perceived consciously. This second editing system pours its productions into the Freudian unconscious. Most of this information has low intensities, comparable to those managed by the brain.
  3. A third editing system regulates how information passes from the unconscious to the preconscious. The basic rule is that the more intense unconscious material becomes, the more strongly it attempts to reach consciousness. The third editing system is also referred to as a watchman, or a system of censorship, which has the function of protecting consciousness from having to deal with conflicting information that consciousness cannot manage without dysfunctioning. The problem stressed by Freud in his description of hysterical patients is that this censorship tends to give more importance to consciousness than to the organism’s survival potential. In other words, this editing system has "local” preoccupations, rather than global ones.
  4. A fourth editing system is really a final protection of consciousness, as it regulates how preconscious material flows into consciousness. The main preoccupation here is that consciousness can only deal with a few pieces of information at a particular moment.
  5. A fifth editing system retranslates psychological experiences into neurological dynamics capable of regulating how consciousness and motor functions interact.

II) Aqualidology is an attempt to understand how such editing systems function and how they are coordinated. The term "aqualide” attempts to convey my intuition that the coordination of these editors forms the background of explicit conscious events that tend to swim in what could be described as "atmospheric” variables. Psychotherapists often try to focus on atmospheric impressions that may lead them to hidden memories, wishes and affects. I used Freud’s familiar model to provide to the reader an intuition of what is meant by editing devices. However, today one needs more complex models of the mind to understand and manage editing systems. Here are a few important differences:

  1. Most researchers no longer assume a strict boundary between psychological and somatic processes[1]. One prefers to look for intermediary levels of mechanisms that manage different types of information. For example, a nervous stimulation and a muscle contraction are entirely different mechanisms that can nevertheless be fruitfully associated. Between a purely conscious activity and a purely biological activity, such as digestion, one finds a web of mechanisms that coordinate more or less loosely a highly varied set of information processing mechanisms. The implication for psychosomatics is that no direct link can exist between the digestive tract and a conscious representation, but that a wide variety of indirect connections may nevertheless activate correlative and even complementary activities between biological and psychological mechanisms.
  2. There is not just one consciousness, one unconscious, one bodily signal and one verbal signal. Plurals can be applied to all such terms. One implication is that one needs to differentiate what was previously called unconscious activity in at least two categories: nonconscious and unconscious activities. Currently, psychologists tend to use the term unconscious to designate previously conscious constructions that can momentarily no longer reach consciousness. However, like books lost in a library, these events may become conscious again, as shown by Freud and many other psychoanalysts. The term nonconscious tends to designate mechanisms that are not designed to become conscious. For example, mechanisms such as editing systems, or Freud’s defense mechanisms, regulate consciousness; but individual consciousness does not have the means to explore, through introspection, such mechanisms. Nonconscious mechanisms are often too complex and too numerous to become accessible to the sequential, slow analysis of consciousness.
  3. This brings us to a reformulation of psychological mechanisms. They are all at the least nonconscious, and some may require more or less important contributions from conscious processing capacities. A conscious perception is thus the tip of an iceberg that tends to float in an ocean of nonconscious processes. From this perspective, what Freud really discovered is that the coordination between nonconscious and conscious processes may be damaged. This form of damage is a characteristic of most forms of psychopathologies, especially when the damaged behaviors have a crucial survival value.

Michel Heller

Assens, 11.24.2003



[1] In many books one finds a small chapter on parallelism described as an ancient theory that has lost its purpose. Personally, I think that the model still thrives today, and cannot yet be kicked away because one still does not know of what stuff dreams are made of.

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Michel Heller

Michel Heller, Docteur in psychology & sport
Psychologist & Psychotherapist

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