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The Attic of the Brain

Autor:   •  December 5, 2017  •  Essay  •  836 Words (4 Pages)  •  229 Views

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Anjali Chourdia

Professor Schnairsohn


20 September 2017


In "The Attic of the Brain", Thomas draws a metaphorical relationship between the attic of a house and the human unconscious. He says that attic is a "mysterious space" (Thomas 75) serving as the memory of a house, "filled with unidentifiable articles too important to be thrown out but no longer suitable to have at hand" (Thomas 75). A modern house or apartment, however, rarely includes an attic. Today whenever we "grow tired of a memory, an old chair, a trunkful of old letters, they are carted off to the dump for burning" (Thomas 75). Thomas suggests that the human unconscious serves as a comforting part of the mind, much like an attic to a house, "to hide away the things we'd like to keep but at the same time forget" (Thomas 76). His primary argument is that modern psychiatry has erred in its attempt to expose the darkest recesses of the human unconscious, and its efforts to demystify the so-called "functionless, untidy, inexplicable" (Thomas 76) notions of the unconscious mind should be abated. Thomas asserts that "it is in our nature as human beings" (Thomas 75) to retain a proportion of thought in our unconscious.

In fact, Thomas welcomes the mystery of the unconscious mind,  and encourages the

repression of certain thoughts and dreams. He insists on “bringing back the old attic” (Thomas 76), albeit, in a gradual way. Through the effective use of imagery -- “remembering nothing beyond … during sleep familiar sound of something shifting and sliding under the roof” (Thomas 76)-- Thomas entices his readers to the mental peace that they can experience if they were not to interfere with the human consciousness.  

In addition, it can be seen all throughout the essay that much like a romantic, Thomas puts great faith in the spontaneity and intuition of the unconscious. The quote “ … they regain the kind of spontaneity and zest for ideas ... music” (Thomas 76) reveals Thomas' willingness to protect the sanctity of the unconscious against scientific probing, thus keeping in line with the romantic tradition. Science searches for causal connections, or statistical correlations, in nature, and attempts to prove, through experimentation and the accumulation of evidence, that two ideas are related. Thomas' belief in the ability of the unconscious to put humans in "possession of real memory" (Thomas 76) also underscores what is perhaps romanticism’s quintessential criticism of science: science relies strictly on humans’ logical faculty and therefore cannot recognize the significance of human emotion. The human unconscious, however, has the inexplicable ability to understand that emotions are triggered by items such as "... forgotten furniture, old photographs and fragments of music" (Thomas 76). A person’s emotions may, as Thomas suggests, invoke a recollection of events, people, or places in his or her past, in a manner that rational recollection cannot. In other words, a recollection triggered by emotion might unexplainably, even mysteriously, provide a person with insight into his or her personality or being, in a way that science and the power of rational thought cannot.


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