Selfhood and Consciousness: A Non-Philosopher's Guide to Epistemology, Noemics, and Semiotics (and Other Important Things Besides) [Entries Beginning with "E/F"]


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First published online 13:00 GMT 28th February 2006, Copyright Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). This version [HT.1 - transfer of copyright] dated 09:00 GMT 9th March 2011







G.3 - The Glossary Proper (Entries E to F)



Echoic Memory: An auditory version of iconic memory.



Ecological Self: See self, ecological.



Ecphory: [From the Greek ekphorein = to make known; reveal.] A valuable, but oft-ignored, term devised by Tulving (1972) to describe a largely pre-conscious process in which retrieval cues are brought into contact with stored information, causing parts of that stored information to be reactivated, and thus remembered. This would be rather like shining a flashlight around a darkened room: the cues are what guides your hand in a particular direction, and the information retrieved is whatever is momentarily lit up by the beam - what you see at any one instant may not be what you are looking for, but may well tell you in which direction to look next. The process must presumably work in close association with the mind's memory indexing mechanisms.



Edelman, Gerald M.: [American neuroscientist (1929-).] [Click for external biography] Edelman is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on consciousness and its neural substrates, for an introduction to which see consciousness, Edelman and Tononi's theory of.



Education Act, 1990: TO FOLLOW.



Efference Copy: See under forward model for the specific mention, and Section 4 of our e-paper on "Basics of Cybernetics" for the fuller explanation.



Ego: [Latin = "I".] One's ego is "that which is symbolised by the pronoun I; the conscious thinking subject, as opposed to the non-ego or object" (O.E.D.). The O.E.D. records examples of the usage of the word in its modern psychological sense in the early 19th century, and the word is richly indexed in the psychological literature. For the purposes of the present glossary, we note firstly that "that which is symbolised by the pronoun I" was part of the Greek enquiry into the mind and soul [being seen, for example, in the ability of the "pilot of the soul" to direct our physical selves through life], and secondly that it lies, by definition, at the heart of our subjectivity. However, it was only when the use of Greek retreated in favour of Latin that the word ego was coined, eventually becoming the term of choice in all discussions of subjectivity, and acquiring everlasting fame in the works of Descartes [see ego cogito] and Freud [see ego, Freudian]. For his part, Kant ignored the term (but not the problems associated with it) in favour of the Germanised "das Ich". For Husserl, on the other hand, the notion of ego was bound up with the way consciousness and Being interacted, thus .....


"Consciousness, considered in its 'purity', must be reckoned as a self-contained system of Being, as a system of Absolute Being, into which nothing can penetrate, and from which nothing can escape; which has no spatio-temporal exterior, and can be inside no spatio-temporal system; which cannot experience causality from anything nor exert causality upon anything, it being presupposed that causality bears the normal sense of natural causality as a relation of dependence between realities" (Ideas, p139).


[See now all entries beginning "ego-".]



Ego Autonomy: [See firstly defense mechanisms.] This is Heinz Hartmann's (initially 1939/1958) notion of a "realm" of intellectual and affective development which is characteristically independent of a parallel realm of instinctual and emotional development, or, to put it in our own words, it is that subset of the ego (as conventionally described elsewhere in psychodynamic theory) which is answerable only to itself for its actions, and not, even in part, to the id. Hartmann developed his ideas in a 108-page monograph entitled Ich-Psychologie und Anpassungsprobleme [in English as "Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation"], and his first substantive point was that psychodynamic theory would always have implications beyond the confines of the psychiatric consulting room, it being in its very nature to be concerned with the ego as an instrument of what we would today describe as adaptive higher-order cognition. He had introduced the topic of adaptation as his chosen Leitmotiv in his very first sentence, and generally adopted an already published definition by Parr (1926), thus .....


"[Adaptation] is a central concept of psychoanalysis [..... but], though it appears simple, implies (or if crudely used, conceals) a great many problems. [.....] Generally speaking, we call a man well adapted if his productivity, his ability to enjoy life, and his mental equilibrium are undisturbed. [.....] The concept of adaptation has the most varied connotation in biology, and it has no precise definition in psychoanalysis either. [.....] The observation underlying the concept 'adaptation' is that living organisms patently 'fit' into their environment. Thus, adaptation is primarily a reciprocal relationship between the organism and its environment. 'Where the real functions, determined jointly by the organism's whole mechanism and by its environment, are favourable for its survival, there a relationship of adaptation obtains between that organism and its environment' [Parr (1926, p3)] [..... It] will clarify matters if we assume that adaptation (speaking now mainly about man) is guaranteed, in both its grosser and finer aspects, on the one hand by man's primary equipment and the maturation of his apparatuses, and on the other hand by those ego-regulated actions which (using this equipment) counteract the disturbances in, and actually improve the person's relationship to, the environment" (Hartmann, 1939/1958, pp22-25; bold emphasis added).


His second substantive point was then that ego psychology still had an awful lot of explaining to do, thus .....  


"It has often been said that while the psychology of the id was and remains a 'preserve' of psychoanalysis, ego psychology is its general meeting ground with nonanalytic psychology. [..... It is] a cohesive organisation of propositions, and any attempt to isolate parts of it not only destroys its overall unity, but also changes and invalidates its parts. Consequently, psychoanalytic ego psychology differs radically from the 'surface psychologies' even though [.....] it is, and will be, increasingly interested in the details of behaviour, in all the shadings of conscious experience, in the rarely studied preconscious processes, and in the relationships between the unconscious, preconscious, and conscious ego. The dynamic and economic points of view, though they apply to all mental life, have been scarcely applied to these. The history of the development of psychoanalytic psychology explains why we understand as yet relatively little about those processes and working methods of the mental apparatus [note this term - Ed.] which lead to adapted achievements [note this phrase - Ed.]. We cannot simply contrast the ego as the nonbiological part of the personality with the id as its biological part; the very problem of adaptation warns against such a division" (op. cit., pp5-6; bold emphasis added).


But of course it is one thing to know what adaptation is and why you need it, and quite another to be able to specify in detail what cognitive structures equipped with what functionality might be needed to deliver it [Hartmann warned, for example, that although the ego "grows on conflicts", "not every adaptation [.....] is a conflict" (p8)]. The problem was that if you defined the purpose of having an ego as being to help its owner to thrive in a hostile world, then that ego has to have the capacity for a whole range of cognitive skills .....


ASIDE: Hartmann specifically lists the following cognitive skills: "perception, intention, object comprehension, thinking, language, recall-phenomena, productivity, [.....] motor development, grasping, crawling, walking, [etc.]" (p8). Readers are reminded, however, that the main body of cognitive theory available at the time was that provided by the mental philosophers [see consciousness, Heidegger's theory of for perhaps the most advanced version thereof], with a little empirical support from clinical neurology, psychiatry, the Gestalt School, and the Geneva School [Watsonian and Skinnerian Behaviourists, of course, explicitly refused to speculate on the subject]. Curiously, Hartmann makes not a single mention of Piaget's work on the qualitative development of cognition during human development, and we can only presume that this was because it was not yet readily available in German. However, this oversight leaves readers short of a major set of insights into how the intellectual side of the ego might be structured. For a quick remedial briefing on the subject, see Section 1 of the companion resource on "Experiential Learning".


.....and that capacity has, moreover, to be kept at arm's length from the id and all its troublesome distractions. Hartmann described this "peaceful" (p11) side of the ego as the "conflict-free ego sphere" (p8), and generally sought a more penetrating account of how defense mechanisms might serve the conflict-free side of things at the same time as keeping the more highly charged side under control. He was particularly interested in [Anna] Freud's description of the process of intellectualisation as an "indispensable component" of the ego, because this process, by definition, is where the irrational id and the rational ego come most closely together [even though we have to suspect that neither party to the exchange may actually realise the other is even there]. Thus .....


"Ordered thinking is always directly or indirectly reality-oriented. When a defense against instinctual drives results in heightened intellectual achievements, this shows that certain forms of conflict solution may involve biological guarantees of an adaptation process to external reality. [..... For example,] memory, associations, and so on, are functions which cannot possible be derived from the ego's relationships to instinctual drives or love-objects, but are rather prerequisites of our conception of these and of their development" (op. cit., pp14-15; bold emphasis added).


Hartmann turned next to the process of fantasy, another of the topics which had featured heavily in Anna Freud's writings. She had, for example, already been responsible for the view that a given person's preference for reality against fantasy was an indicator of the relative "maturity" of that person's ego (Freud [A.], 1936), and what she meant by "maturity" was not far removed from Hartmann's own notion of adaptability. He also referred out to earlier work by Juliaan Varendonck on the psychodynamics of daydreaming, and by Ernst Kris on fantasy in art. Here is how Hartmann used these various sources to develop his own argument ....


"Varendonck (1921) [.....] maintained that the biological significance of fantasy thinking, in contrast to dream work, lies in its attempts to solve problems of waking life. As an aside I want to mention that in Varendonck's study of fantasy we again encounter those preconscious mechanisms whose significance [was] recently stressed also by Kris (1939). Fantasy is a broad and somewhat vague concept [..... but is recognised as] fruitful even in scientific thinking, supposedly the undisputed domain of rational thought. [Indeed,] the healthy adult's mental life is probably never quite free of the denial and replacement of some reality by fantasy formation. [.....] The function of play is a good example [..... and] though fantasy always implies an initial turning away from a real situation, it can also be a preparation for reality and may lead to a better mastery of it" (op. cit., p18).


Viewed in this way, most of the ego's major defense mechanisms - including even denial and avoidance - can in at least some circumstances prove to be adaptive. As Hartmann puts it, it is one thing to know what is real, and quite another to adapt to it (p19). He also points out that you can adapt not just by changing your ways in a forward-looking, progressive, sense, but also by changing back to former ways, that is to say, by "regressing". All that is required is a system which returns you to an "equilibrium" (p38) every time your relationship with the world is disrupted by an event [compare the concept of homeostasis and note the role of the negative feedback control loop in delivering it]. The implications for psychoanalysis are as follows .....


"We must stress the great elasticity of human adaptiveness: there are always several alternative means available to master an environmental relationship. But psychoanalytic experience has also taught us that because of the complex structure of the mental apparatus, internal disturbances readily cause disturbances in the relation to reality. Our knowledge of the mental apparatus enables us to discern, besides the equilibrium between individual and environment, two other relatively well-defined states of equilibrium. These, the equilibrium of instinctual drives (vital equilibrium) and the equilibrium of mental institutions (structural equilibrium), are dependent on each other and on the first-mentioned equilibrium" (op. cit., p39).


ASIDE: The industry standard model of real-time biological cognition is the Norman-Shallice model of supervisory attention. Readers unfamiliar with the way in which hierarchically arranged cognitive modules provide both open loop and closed loop cybernetic control of an individual's actions should familiarise themselves with that entry, and then carefully re-read the preceding extract, before proceeding.


Another important ego function in the conflict-free egosphere is that of "anticipation", as follows .....


"[The] reality principal also implies something essentially new, namely the familiar function of anticipating the future, orienting our actions according to it, and correctly relating means and ends to each other. It is an ego function and, surely, an adaptation process of the greatest significance" (op. cit., p43; bold emphasis added).


ASIDE: Hartmann signally fails to reference what was known, even then, about the executive functions of the frontal lobes, leaving readers under-informed as to the role of anticipation in the planning function. Interested readers may care to read up on this area in the companion resource on "Executive Function" before proceeding.


Hartmann closes his argument with chapters on "preconscious automatisms" and "autonomous ego development". What is interesting him here is the relative importance of automatisms - unconscious and involuntary behaviours - in the totality of conflict-free cognition, and what he finds himself facing is the paradox that an "autonomous" ego actually needs as many automatisms as it can get, but that they risk undermining the all-important "central regulation" (p95) which it is trying to maximise. Here is how he introduces these conflicting notions .....


"Actions always involve the body: they always imply an awareness of the subject's own body on some level of consciousness [.....]. The ego uses somatic apparatuses to execute actions [..... , which generally] function automatically: the integration of the somatic systems involved in the action is automatised, and so is the integration of the individual mental acts involved in it. With increasing exercise of the action its intermediate steps disappear from consciousness. [.....] Not only motor behaviour, but perception and thinking, too, show automatisation. Exercise automatises methods of problem solving just as much as it does walking, speaking, or writing. [..... This] warns us that the conception of a thoroughly flexible ego is an illusion [..... and o]ur concern here is only to indicate the place of automatisms within the superordinate mental structure. In doing so I will avoid the term 'habit' [..... because it implies] that we always do it in certain situations, without being able to state its motivation or purpose. [.....] The place of these automatisms in the mental topography is the preconscious" (op. cit., pp87-89; bold emphasis added).


Noting that pathological conditions such as "compulsion neuroses, tics, catatonias, etc." (p90) are characterised by inappropriate automatisms, he continues .....


"It cannot be a matter of 'chance' that automatisms play so great a role among those functions which are either adaptive themselves, or are used by adaptation processes. It is obvious that automatisation may have economic advantages, in saving attention cathexis in particular and simple cathexis of consciousness in general [..... meaning that t]he sweeping assertion that one of the goals of psychoanalysis is to transform these automatisms into mobile ego processes [.....] does not do justice to the adaptation value of such preconscious automatic activities. [.....] What I am implying here is that the control by the conscious and the preconscious ego, its degree and its scope, has a positive significance for health" (op. cit., pp91-93; bold emphasis added).


He presents his final synthesis as follows .....


"[N]o satisfactory definition of the concepts of ego strength and ego weakness is feasible without taking into account the nature and maturational stage of the ego apparatuses which underlie intelligence, will, and action. [.....] The psychology of the ego apparatuses seems to me a good example of the interlocking of conflict and adaptation (and achievement), and this brings us back to our starting point [..... and] I will be pleased if you should agree with me that the problems of autonomous ego development, of the structure and rank order of ego functions, of organisation, of central regulation, of self-suspension of function, etc., and their relations to the concepts of adaptation and mental health, have a just claim to our attention" (op. cit., pp107-108).


WHERE TO NEXT: Most follow-up sources have already been hyperlinked. However, if interested particularly in "the rarely studied preconscious processes" mentioned in the second of our above extracts, start with the entry for preconscious, the, and follow the onward links.



Ego Cogito: [Latin = "I am thinking" (Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy).]


"I see very clearly that to think it is necessary to be"

(Descartes, Discourse of Method, IV, ¶33; Haldane and Ross translation, p92).


This is the conventionally accepted shorthand form of Descartes' thought-provoking one-liner concerning the existential impact of possessing higher cognitive functions. The tag derives from the phrase "Je pense, donc je suis", as used in the French manuscript of Discourse on Method (Descartes, 1637), but subsequently translated into Latin as "ego sum, ergo existo" in the Latin manuscript of Meditations (Descartes, 1641), and then reappearing in Principles of Philosophy (Descartes, 1644 [Latin], 1647 [French]). The "textbook version" of the phrase [by which we mean any of the veritable cavalcade of secondary sources on the subject between then and now] is now "cogito, ergo sum", even though Descartes turns out not to have used that precise phrasing at all [see below].


ASIDE: Our personal command of Latin lets us down here, for our understanding had always been that Latin verbs required no first person pronoun, at least as routine. Just as Julius Caesar's "veni, vidi, vici" means "I came, I saw, I conquered", so the word cogito on its own means "I think". At first sight, therefore, the word ego in ego cogito is redundant. We are assured, however, that in some usages the pronoun is allowed to be inserted for the sake of added emphasis.


We therefore have to do a little detective work, and we shall start in the early 5th century with the following extract from St. Augustine's mammoth treatise "City of God" .....


"We resemble the Trinity in that we exist; we know that we exist, and we are glad of this existence and this knowledge. [..... However,] we do not apprehend those truths by the bodily senses by which we are in contact with the world outside us - perceiving colour by sight, sound by hearing, odour by the sense of smell, flavours by the taste, hardness and softness by touch. We can also summon up in thought the immaterial images which closely resemble those material things apprehended by sense; we retain them in our memory; and through those images we are aroused to desire the things they represent. But the certainty that I exist, that I know it, and that I am glad of it, is independent of any imaginary and deceptive fantasies. In respect of those truths I have no fear of the arguments of the Academics. They say, 'Suppose you are mistaken?' I reply, 'If I am mistaken, I exist' [si enim fallor, sum]. A non-existent being cannot be mistaken; therefore I must exist, if I am mistaken. Then since my being mistaken proves that I exist [..... i]t follows that I am not mistaken in knowing that I know. For just as I know that I exist, I also know that I know" (St. Augustine, City of God, Book XI, Chapter 26; Bettenson translation, pp459-460).


Now it so happens that Augustine is playing word games with certain of his critics at this juncture, and so he is deliberately labouring his point. Nevertheless, the verb he uses is fallo [= "to be mistaken, deceive"], and not cogito [let me check the Latin]. So what Descartes seems to have done, more than a thousand years later, was to take Augustine's general style of argument [as a Latin scholar himself, City of God would have been perfectly familiar to him] and substitute Je pense, etc. He did this in the following passage from his Discourse .....


"..... and remarking that this truth 'I think, therefore I am' was so certain and so assured [.....] I came to the conclusion that I could receive it without scruple as the first principle of the philosophy for which I was seeking. And then, examining attentively that which I was, I saw that I could conceive that I had no body, and that there was no world nor place where I might be; but yet that I could not for all that conceive that I was not. [.....] After this I considered generally what in a proposition is requisite in order to be true and certain [.....]. And having remarked that there was nothing at all in the statement 'I think, therefore I am' [je pense, donc je suis] which assures me of having thereby made a true assertion, excepting that I see very clearly that to think it is necessary to be, I came to the conclusion that I might assume, as a general rule, that the things which we conceive very clearly and distinctly are all true ....." (Descartes, 1637, Discourse on Method, ¶32-33; Haldane and Ross translation, p92).


He then reproduced the entire argument in Latin in his Second Meditation (a long passage, heavily abridged) .....


"So that after having reflected well and carefully examined all things, we must come to the definite conclusion that this proposition: I am, I exist [ego sum, ego existo - let me check the Latin], is necessarily true each time that I pronounce it, or that I mentally conceive it. But I do not yet know clearly enough what I am, I who am certain  that I am [.....] But what is a man? Shall I say a reasonable animal? Certainly not; for then I should have to inquire what an animal is, and what is reasonable [.....] Let us pass to the attributes of soul and see if there is any one which is in me? [he briefly mentions walking, taking nutrition, and sensation - Ed.] What of thinking? I find here that thought is an attribute that belongs to me; it alone cannot be separated from me. I am, I exist, that is certain. But how often? Just when I think; for it might possibly be the case if I ceased entirely to think, that I should likewise cease altogether to exist. [.....] But what then am I. A thing which thinks. What is a thing which thinks? It is a thing which doubts, understands, [conceives,] affirms, denies, wills, refuses, which also imagines and feels" (Descartes, 1641, Meditations, ¶25-28; Haldane and Ross translation, pp140-143).


For a long while, "the ego cogito" stood as the rallying call for all those who would set humankind above the "brutes" by telling us what was special about us, but it was never a test of reality in an ontic sense. It did not seek, as Aristotle had done, to allocate mind to a category, nor was it a challenge to our very notion of substance. It was simply a yardstick against which you could assess a rational being, which you could therefore only reject if you were claiming to have a better criterion. And there was no alternative analysis until the Phenomenologists started picking their holes in both the je and the suis 150 years later. Kant, for example, argues throughout his Critique that "the existence of an actual object outside us [.....] is never given straightforwardly in perception" (1781; Pluhar translation, p400), and Husserl uses the phrase in the context of the "directedness" of the ego [for details of which, see the entry for consciousness, Husserl's theory of]. Heidegger then introduces an entire new dimension to the issue of existence with his notion of Dasein, thus (a long passage, heavily abridged) .....


"We have shown at the outset [] not only that the question of the meaning of Being is one that has not been attended to and one that has been inadequately formulated, but that it has become quite forgotten in spite of all our interest in 'metaphysics'. Greek ontology and its history [.....] prove that when Dasein understands either itself or Being in general, it does so in terms of the 'world', and that the ontology which has thus arisen [.....] gets reduced to something self-evident [.....]. In the Middle Ages this uprooted Greek ontology became a fixed body of doctrine [..... giving us] the 'metaphysics' and transcendental philosophy of modern times [.....]. In the course of this history certain distinctive domains of Being have come into view and have served as the primary guides for subsequent problematics: the ego cogito of Descartes, the subject, the 'I', reason, spirit, person. But these all remain uninterrogated as to their Being and its structure [.....]. If the question of Being is to have its own history made transparent, then this hardened tradition must be loosened up, and the concealments which it has brought about must be dissolved" (Being and Time, pp43-44).


The modern take on the ego cogito is a strange amalgam of the conventional and the unconventional. On the one hand, the phrase still sits in textbooks and on websites, saying what it always has. On the other hand, philosophy is getting much sharper teeth nowadays. Pragmatics, for example, will tell you all about the speech acts preceding any statement of cogito, Edelman and a dozen other neuroscientists will present you with real-time brain scanning data during the act either of the thinking or the speaking, Metzinger will analyse what access to the self-model is required during the thinking, and the artificial intelligence industry will run computer simulations of the problem (but never yet in a sufficiently lifelike way to pass the Turing test).



Ego, "Directedness" of: This term was used by Husserl (e.g., Ideas, p109) in referring to the role played by "some mode of heeding" in selecting which elements of a complex external scene are to become immanent. [For a fuller discussion, see consciousness, Husserl's theory of.]



Ego, Empirical: The term "empirical ego" was used by Husserl (Logical Investigations, p201) to set apart the ego as created by sensory input. [See now consciousness, Husserl's theory of.] 



Ego, Freudian: [See firstly consciousness, Freud's theory of for the general background, and ego for the specific higher-order notion. Note that this entry covers only Freud's personal position on the nature of the ego. For later variations and emphases see ego, psychodynamic theories of.] The ego is one of the three component structures of the mind according to Freudian theory (the others being the superego and the id). Specifically, it is the component which (a) supports (is, perhaps, or possesses, perhaps) all the functions already set out in the entry for ego, but which then (b) operates in such a way as to defend itself against the often seething mass of psychosexually disturbing content Freud believed builds up subconsciously within us. Freud wrote extensively on the ego, but perhaps the most detailed (if not exactly the clearest) exposition is in "The Ego and the Id" (Freud 1923/1960). Here is the basic proposition on the subject .....


"We have formed the idea that in each individual there is a coherent organisation of mental processes; and we call this his ego. It is to this ego that consciousness is attached; the ego controls the approaches to motility - that is, to the discharge of excitations into the external world; it is the mental agency which supervises all its own constituent processes, and which goes to sleep at night, though even then it exercises the censorship on dreams. From this ego proceed the repressions, too, by means of which it is sought to exclude certain trends in the mind not merely from consciousness but also from other forms of effectiveness and activity. [.....] Now we find during analysis that, when we put certain tasks before the patient, he gets into difficulties; his associations fail when they should be coming near the repressed. We then tell him that he is dominated by a resistance; but he is quite unaware of the fact [.....]. Since, however, there can be no question but that this resistance emanates from his ego and belongs to it, we find ourselves in an unforeseen situation. We come upon something in the ego itself which is also unconscious, which behaves exactly like the repressed - that is, which produces powerful effects without itself being conscious and which requires special work before it can be made conscious" (Freud, 1923/1960, pp8-9).



Ego Ideal (1/2/3): (1) To the early psychoanalysts, the phrase "ego ideal" was used synonymously with what we now understand as superego, that is to say, as the voice of rectitude in our heads. Freud himself did this in Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis in 1917 .....


"From the analysis of delusions of observation we have drawn the conclusion that there actually exists in the ego an agency which unceasingly  observes, criticises, and compares, and in that was sets itself over against the other part of the ego. [..... The patient] senses an agency holding sway in his ego which measures his actual ego and each of its activities by an ideal ego that he has created for himself in the course of his development. We believe, too, that this creation was made with the intention of re-establishing the self-satisfaction which was attached to primary infantile narcissism. We know the self-observing agency as the ego-censor, the conscience ....." (Freud, 1917/1963, Introductory Lectures, p479).


..... and he did it again in The Ego and the Id in 1923 .....


"The considerations that led us to assume the existence of a grade in the ego, a differentiation within the ego, which may be called the 'ego-ideal' [Ich-Ideal] or 'super ego' [Über-Ich], have been stated elsewhere. They still hold good. The fact that this part of the ego is less firmly connected with consciousness is the novelty which calls for explanation" (Freud, 1923/1860, The Ego and the Id, p22).


(2) The situation changed somewhat after Freud's death, with the growing popularity of object relations theory. Melanie Klein, for example, saw the ego ideal as the object relation formed by the projection of the perceived "good feelings and good parts of the self" (Klein, 1946, p184) onto the mother object [see the entry for projective identification for the details here]. Somewhat later, Jacobson (1964) reviewed the emergence of ego ideals through a process known as "idealisation". She noted as follows [citations removed] .....


"To return to the preoedipal child, it seems that his identifications with the mother, both as the aggressor and as the person who imposes instinctual restrictions, pave the way to these new processes of identification. In contrast to his magic fantasies of fusion and his primitive affective identifications and merely formal imitations, they have a meaningful content and a realistic aim. Such an aim can be reached by way of deep-seated modifications of the ego, which now really assumes certain characteristics of the admired object. This presupposes [a] distinction between realistic and wishful self images. In fact, the ego cannot acquire a realistic likeness to the love object unless admired traits of this object become enduringly introjected into the child's wishful self images. [..... This] growing distinction between wishful self images and realistic self representations has very significant implications regarding the development of the feelings of identity" (Jacobson, 1964, pp50-51).


She then presented the crux of her argument .....


"The originally weak boundaries and cathectic vacillations between self and object images in the small child tend to cast the glorification and idealisation back from the love object to the self. As the setting up of idealised parental images protects the child from his aggressive devaluation of the parents, the constitution first of wishful aggrandised, then of idealised, self images counteracts the infantile tendency toward rapid self devaluation. Thus the processes of idealisation not only serve to protect infantile object relations, which are threatened by the child's sexual desires and his ambivalence, but also help to heal the narcissistic wounds. Forever close to magic imagery and yet indispensable to the ego, the ego ideal is eventually moulded from such idealised object and self images" (Jacobson, 1964, p110; emphasis added).


Lampl de Groot (1965) offers the alternative narrative .....


"As long as the infant-mother unity is need-satisfying there is no stimulation for accelerating the maturational process. However, birth itself causes unpleasurable sensations and soon afterward the satisfaction of needs does not occur immediately and completely enough to avoid unpleasure. The experiences of alternate pleasure and pain stimulate development, and gradually a primitive structuralisation of the mind comes about. A number of functions begins to develop: sensual stimuli are laid down in memory traces (structuralisation of the brain), outside and inside are distinguished (object and self), testing of reality begins, etc. [.....] In the structured mind they build up the ego organisation which must attempt to allow sufficient satisfaction of needs and wishes and at the same time to adjust to the necessities of life and to the demands of the environment. [.....] The reason why I dwell so long on this early and primitive ego function is that, in my opinion, we encounter here the basis of the ego ideal. In terms of structuralisation we could speak of a forerunner of the ego ideal. [.....] The ego ideal is an agency of wish fulfilment" (Lample de Groot, 1965, pp318-319; bold emphasis added).


(3) Given the conflict between definitions (1) and (2), Schafer (1967) drew a helpful distinction between "ideals", "ego ideals", and "the ideal self", seeing these as three separate constructs liable to dangerous and misleading conflation. He saw "ideals" as just everyday standards of perfection, "ego ideals" as part of the raw material out of which the structures of the psychosexual mind are built, and the "ideal self" as a desired "self-representation". Here is one of the critical distinctions .....


"For purposes of anatomising ideals, it is useful to differentiate ideal self-representations and experienced self-representations, and to regard the latter as representing a continuum ranging from the most deprecated through the objective to the idealised. An ideal self-representation is an image or concept of oneself as one would be if one had satisfied a specific ideal. A daydream, recognised as such, of oneself as a great hero involves an ideal self-representation, for example. [.....] An experienced self-representation is an image or concept of oneself as one thinks one is" (Schafer, 1967, p150).



Ego Identity: This is Eriksonian theory's core notion of a complex of cognitive structures which provides the phenomenally aware self with its "continuity and sameness". Here is Erikson's own initial statement on the subject .....


"The term identity crisis was first used, if I remember correctly, for a specific clinical purpose in the Mt Zion Veterans' Rehabilitation Clinic [current details] during the Second World War, a national emergency which permitted psychiatric workers of different persuasions and denominations, among them Emanuel Windholz and Joseph Wheelwright, to work together harmoniously. Most of our patients, so we concluded at that time, had neither been 'shellshocked' nor become malingerers, but had through the exigencies of war lost a sense of personal sameness and historical continuity. They were impaired in that central control over themselves for which, in the psychoanalytic scheme, only the 'inner agency' of the ego could be held responsible. Therefore, I spoke of a loss of 'ego identity'. Since then, we have recognised the same central disturbance in severely conflicted young people whose sense of confusion is due, rather, to a war within themselves, and in confused rebels and destructive delinquents who war on their society. [.....] As a subjective sense of an invigorating sameness and continuity, what I would call a sense of identity seems to me best described by William James in a letter to his wife: 'A man's character is discernible in the mental or moral attitude in which, when it came upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensively active and alive. At such moments there is a voice inside which speaks and says: "This is the real me!"'" (Erikson, 1968, pp16-17/19; bold emphasis added).



Ego Illusion: See free will.



Ego Maturity: See ego autonomy.



Ego, Mutability of: This is Anna Freud's notion that the structures of the ego change - at times quite rapidly - as one passes through the stages of development. "The immutability of the id," she writes, "is matched by the mutability of the ego" (Freud [A.], 1937/1966, p141).



Ego Nucleus: See multiple personality.



Ego Psychology: [See firstly ego, psychodynamic theories of.] This is the name given to the sub-perspective within psychodynamic theory which followed the writings of Anna Freud (e.g., 1936/1968) on defense mechanisms and Heinz Hartmann (e.g., 1938/1958) on ego autonomy, and which has been one of the dominant positions in post-WW2 psychoanalytic thought [but compare Kleinian School]. Other contributors to the movement include Rudolf Loewenstein, Ernst Kris, and Jacques Lacan.



"Egosphere": This is an impressive-sounding compression of David Rapaport's (1958) "conflict-free ego sphere", itself a translation of Heinz Hartmann's (1939/1958) term  konfliktfreie Sphäre des Ichs. [See now ego autonomy for more on the associated psychodynamics, or egosphere, sensory for more on the associated robotics.]



Egosphere, Sensory: [Robotics term] [See firstly egosphere.] The term "sensory egosphere" has recently started to be used by roboticists to describe the three-dimensional space in which robots can experience the world [click for example].



Ego Strength: [See firstly ego psychology.] Wolberg (1977) defines ego strength as "the positive personality assets that will enable the individual to overcome his anxieties [and] to acquire new, more adequate, defenses" (p4). It is what leads the fight against adversity on behalf of the self. The term is also used to name one of Cattell's (1965) 16 personality factors.



Ego, System: See system ego.



Ego versus Self: Unless used in more precise compound terms, this glossary freely interchanges the words "ego" and "self".



Eidetic Image: [CAUTION - not directly related to eidetic knowledge.] The adjective "eidetic" comes from the Greek word eidetikos - pertaining to images, and refers to the somewhat rare ability to retain, and indeed further inspect, a vivid mental image of something after that something has disappeared from sight. Haber (1969) describes eidetic imagery as common in young children, but rare after puberty. His team investigated children in four US elementary schools in the late 1960s and found 20 good imagers out of more than 500 children screened (that is to say, only 4%). They classified as eidetic the 5 to 10 % of subjects who reported still being able to see elements of a target picture (as opposed to merely remembering things about it) half a minute after it had been removed. Such images started to develop after only a few seconds viewing, and the best imagers would retain them for 10 minutes or more. The three-dimensional reversals typical of a Necker cube occurred significantly less frequently when working from images of cubes rather than the real thing: the images were quite "flat", in other words. Haber's team then profiled the eidetics over a period of several years. There were no differences in IQ, reading ability, personality, sex, and racial grouping. Children could control their own imaging by blinking, which seems to erase the image, or by shifting their attention from the (now blank) plane of the original. Another way to erase the image is to code it verbally. Once a component of an image has been verbally named, it disappeared from the imaged scene, and poor images were found for scenes where the child was forced at the outset to name the components. This seems to imply that eidetics "retain information either in the form of an image or in the form of a verbal memory" (p41), but not both. As a result, eidetics were surprisingly only marginally better than non-eidetics at a scene description from memory task.



Eidetic Knowledge: [CAUTION - not directly related to eidetic image.] This is Husserl's term for knowledge at the level of "the ειδος, the pure essence" (Ideas, p51), as now profiled (a long passage, heavily abridged) .....


"The Eidos, the pure essence, can be exemplified intuitively in the data of experience, data of perception, memory, and so forth, but just as readily also in the mere data of fancy (Phantasie). Hence, with the aim of grasping an essence itself in its primordial form, we can set out from corresponding empirical intuitions [or] non-empirical intuitions, intuitions that do not apprehend sensory existence, intuitions rather 'of a merely imaginative order'. [.....] It follows essentially from all this that the positing of the essence [.....] does not imply any positing of individual existence whatsoever. [.....] Judgments about essences and essential relationships on the one hand, and on the other hand eidetic judgments in general [.....] are not the same thing; eidetic knowledge has not essences as its object-matter in all its propositions. [.....] We can be intuitively aware of essences and can apprehend them after a certain fashion without their becoming 'objects about which'" (Husserl, Ideas, pp50-52).



Eidolon: [Greek = "image, shape, phantom; vision, idol" (O.C.G.D.); "image" (Peters).] This is one of several words used to convey the general notion of image in classical theories of aesthesis.



Ειδος / Ειδε: See firstly the G.2 pump-priming definitions.



Eikon: [Greek "likeness, image, picture, painting; simile; phantom, notion" (O.C.G.D.); "image, reflection" (Peters).] This classical Greek word for an artistic likeness [cf. mimema] is one of a number of words which have contributed various nuances to the modern notion of (mental) image. It is also the root of the modern English word "icon" and its derivatives.



Eitinger, Leo: [American psychiatrist (1912-1996).] [Click for external biography] Eitinger is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on PTSD and survivor syndrome.



Elder, Glen H.: [American sociologist.] [Click for external biography] [Homepage] Glen Elder is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on the Philadelphia Inner City Project.



Electrostatic Force: [See firstly resting potential and equilibrium.] The charged particles which move back and forth across the cell membrane in excitable tissues are capable of exerting relatively strong intermolecular forces. Like charges (both positive or both negative) repel, and unlike charges (i.e. one of each) attract. This serves to prevent too many like-charged particles accumulating in the same place, and this, in turn, creates a limiting back-pressure should you happen to be metabolically pumping like-charged ions into that place for some purpose.



Electrotonic: An "electrotonic" electrical potential is stable, rather than constantly changing ("clonic"). In the present context, the neuron's resting potential is an electrotonic potential.



Elena F: See case, Elena F.



Elevated Mood: See euphoria.



Ellis, Albert: [American psychotherapist (1913-)] [Click for external biography] Albert Ellis is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on rational emotive behaviour therapy.



Elysion: [Greek = "the final resting place of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous" (Wikipedia); compare the modern English elysium, "the supposed state or abode of the blessed after death in Greek mythology [;] any similarly conceived abode or state of the departed" (O.E.D.) (but note that there are substantial differences between the Greek notion of the afterlife and the Christian notion of heaven).] This word was taken as the title of Jackson Knight's (1970) monograph on the history of life-after-death in Western mythology.



Embodiment: The issue of "embodiment" was first raised by McCulloch (1965), who, with more than twenty years of practical experience in artificial intelligence research, under his belt, simply pointed out that it might eventually prove impossible to build an artificially conscious computer brain for the simple reason that it would have no biological body to go with it. It was not "embodied", and as a result there would simply be too little for it to be conscious of. This point was taken up in Lakoff and Johnson's (1999) "Philosophy in the Flesh", who present the problem the way ..... 


"Any reasoning you do using a concept requires that the neural structures of the brain carry out that reasoning. Accordingly, the architecture of your brain's neural networks determines what concepts you have and hence the kind of reasoning you can do. [.....] We have inherited from the Western philosophical tradition a theory of faculty psychology, in which we have a 'faculty' of reason that is separate from and independent of what we do with our bodies. In particular, reason is seen as independent of perception and bodily movement. In the Western tradition, this autonomous capacity of reason is regarded as what makes us essentially human, distinguishing us from all other animals. [.....] The evidence from cognitive science shows that classical faculty psychology is wrong. There is no such fully autonomous faculty of reason separate from and independent of bodily capacities such as perception and movement. The evidence supports, instead, an evolutionary view, in which reason uses and grows out of such bodily capacities. [.....] These findings [.....] are profoundly disquieting in two respects. First, they tell us that human reason is a form of animal reason, a reason inextricably tied to our bodies and the peculiarities of our brains. Second, these results tell us that our bodies, brains, and interactions with our environment provide the mostly unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real" (Lakoff and Johnson, 1999, pp16-17).



EMDR: See eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing.



Emergent Properties: Emergent properties are properties of complex systems not individually possessed by the components or sub-assemblies of those systems. They are what transforms four wheels and a chassis (interesting enough in themselves) into a fully functioning automobile (bringing a whole new world of options, and demanding a whole new set of explanatory laws) at the moment the final wheel-nut is tightened. They are thus what the Gestalt School were on about when they famously described wholes as greater than the sums of their parts, and it is difficulties explaining how wholes supervene upon their parts which underlie the Holism-Reductionism problem. Emergent properties were first clearly proposed as an explanatory position in the mind-brain debate by John Stuart Mill (Mill, 1843), were re-emphasised for the modern market by Sperry (e.g., 1980), but have recently been criticised by Edwards (2006 online) as "explanatory fluff, like wetness and computers". [See now "emergentism".]



Emergentism: [See firstly mind-brain debate.] This is one of the three main middle-of-the-road philosophical positions on the mind-brain debate (the others being epiphenomenalism and identity theory). Like the Gestalt School before them, Emergentists rely on the concept of "emergent properties" to allow a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, one's judgment whether this makes them dualists or monists depends upon whether you regard the higher-level explanatory laws as separate to, or merely developments of, the lower-level laws.



E-MOP: See episodic memory organisation packet.



Emotion-Focused Coping: See coping and defending.



Emotional Intelligence: This is "a set of skills hypothesised to contribute to the accurate appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and others, the effective regulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate, plan, and achieve in one's life" (Salovey and Mayer, 1990, p185). The precise term has been attributed to the title of a 1985 doctoral dissertation (Payne, 1985), but the basic idea comes from Leeper (1948). Leeper's position was that emotions are "organising responses", whose adaptive value resides in their ability to direct behaviour strategy along surprisingly precise lines (even if it should appear - like aggression - explosive and undirected). Salovey and Mayer (1990) have reviewed this area and conclude that emotional intelligence should be regarded as a subset of social intelligence.



Emotional Lability: One's emotional state is said to be "labile" if emotions come and go less predictably and under less control than normal. It is commonly noted, for example, that even mild strokes often leave their victims more tearful or less able to bite back a hurtful word. Similarly, clinically significant emotional lability is associated with certain mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and many of the personality disorders.



Empedocles:[<Εμπεδοκλης>] [Greek philosopher (floruit ca. 450BCE).] [Click for external biography] Beare (1906) summarises Empedocles' theory of visual perception thus: "According to the doctrine first enunciated by Empedocles, like perceives like. All bodies [.....] have passages ([poroi]) or 'pores' in them, and from all emanations or effluences [] come, and enter into the said pores or passages. Thus all bodies are in a state of physical communion and all interaction whatever between bodies depends upon the facts thus stated" (p14).



Empirical Abstraction: See abstraction, empirical.



Empirical Apperception: See apperception, empirical.



Empirical Consciousness: See consciousness, empirical.



Empirical Ego: See ego, empirical.



Empirical Knowledge: Same as a posteriori knowledge.



Empiricism: Empiricism is a philosophical doctrine predicated upon the assertion that all knowledge derives either directly or indirectly from sensory experience. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word comes from the Greek roots empeirikos "experienced," empeiria "experience," and empeiros "skilled," all originally from en- "in" + peira "trial, experiment". As a philosophical position, the primary reliance on the evidence of the senses naturally sets Empiricism off against Rationalism, and paved the way for the scientific method. [See now British Empiricism and all entries beginning "empirical .....".]



Emulation: See imitation versus emulation debate.



Enabling: See co-dependency.



Encapsulation (0/1/2): (0) In everyday English, "to (en)capsulate" means literally to enclose in a capsule [Latin capsula = a small container], or similarly seal away and make self-contained. (1 - in mental philosophy) The word was thus a natural choice for mental philosophers seeking a descriptor for the quality of functional separatedness and independence which they believed went a long way towards defining a good mental module [see the entry for modularity for the details here]. (2 - in computer science) The word was also a natural choice for computer programmers seeking to produce highly modular object code for their machines [see the entry for object (3) for the details here].



Encoding: Encoding is what information processing systems (the nervous system included) do to the stimuli which impinge upon them. It is the mechanism by which the various attributes of the external stimulus are converted to an internal - that is to say, neural - signal. With a visual stimulus, for example, you need to encode size, shape, colour, brightness, and movement for each of 125 million retinal rods and cones, and to do the necessary encoding you only have 1.25 million optic nerve fibres to play with [a 100:1 reduction factor!], and all you can do with these nerve fibres is determine which ones should fire, at what rate, and for how long. Paivio (1986) provides a useful theoretical overview of the encoding process, and ventures to name the three basic operations involved. Firstly, there is representational encoding, which is encoding by external attribute (thus an iconic image would be a representational encoding of a visual stimulus, and an echoic image would be a representational encoding of an auditory stimulus). Secondly, there is referential encoding, which involves producing "referentially related verbal and nonverbal memory trace components". This creates a dual trace, the two aspects of which are (a) the thing in question [the concept], and (b) its name [the symbol]. And thirdly, there is associative encoding, which involves creating links, or associations, between a given new memory and as many pre-existing ones as possible. The more numerous the links, the harder the new memory is to forget. Encoding is thus one of psychology's major persistent issues (the nature of mental representation) under another name, and understanding it is one of the keys to understanding the mind as a whole, let alone memory in isolation! [See now transcoding. For a detailed example of progressive encoding and recoding/transcoding within the longitudinal cognitive system, see the flowline annotations in Ellis (1982), and for quantification of the reduction in information loadings which transcoding permits, see Frank (1963).]



Endoplasm: Same as cytoplasm.



Endoplasmic Reticulum: This is a complex network of intracellular microtubules and cisterns (small chambers) which permeates the cytoplasm. Its walls - the reticular membrane - share the four-layered molecular structure of the cell membrane. Indeed, at some points on the cell membrane there are pores where selected endoplasmic tubules pass through the cell membrane to communicate with the interstitial fluid. At other points it is continuous with the Golgi apparatus. In some regions the reticular membrane is heavily studded with ribosomes, giving it a granular appearance.



Engram: It has long been suspected/agreed that the process of retaining information over time requires some sort of structural change within the nervous system, but opinions as to the nature of this trace continue to differ. However, its name at least is fairly well established: it is usually referred to as the "memory trace", or engram (literally, "that which has been engraved"). The term engram derives from Richard Semon (1904), who defined it as "a permanent change wrought by a stimulus on any living substance". Experience, in other words, must somehow make its mark upon the brain, and the engram is that mark.



Ens: "Something which has existence; a 'being', entity, as opposed to an attribute, quality, etc." (O.E.D.). This rarely seen English word derives from the Latin ens. Note but avoid, using "entity" instead, perhaps.



Ens: [(genitive entis) Latin = "a thing".] This word seems to be the Latin equivalent of the Greek on[ta], and is the root of the modern "entity".



Ens Rationis: [Latin = "a thing in reason (alone)".] An ens rationis is "a thing which has an existence only as an object of reason" (O.E.D.), that is to say, as a figment of the imagination. Alternatively, "an object that exists 'in my thought of it'" (Meinong, 1902/1983, p49). [See now consciousness, Meinong's theory of.]



Entelecheia: [Greek = "state of completion or perfection, actuality" (Peters).] This is the sourceword for the Aristotelian notion of entelechy. Peters explains its derivation from the root telos thus .....


"Although Aristotle normally uses entelecheia, which is probably his own coinage, as a synonym for energeia, there is a passage [.....] that at least suggests that the two terms, though closely connected, are not perfectly identical. They are related through the notion of ergon: ergon is the function of a capacity (dynamis) and so its completion and fulfilment (telos). Thus the state of functioning (energeia) 'tends toward' the state of completion (en-telecheia)" (p57).



Entelechy: The word "entelechy" is an Anglicisation of entelecheia, and signifies "the realisation or complete expression of some function" (O.E.D.). Here is a typical example of the word's use within mental philosophy .....


"We could give the name entelechy to all simple substances or created monads, because they have within them a certain perfection; there is a kind of self-sufficiency which makes them sources of their own internal actions, or incorporeal automata, as it were. If we want to call anything that has perceptions and appetites in the general sense that I have just explained a soul, then all simple substances or created monads could be called souls. But as feeling is something more than a simple perception, I think that the general name of monad or entelechy is adequate for simple substances which have that and nothing more, and that we should call souls only those which have perceptions which are more distinct and accompanied by memory. [.....] Memory provides souls with a kind of sequencing ....." (Leibniz, 1714, Monadology [Woolhouse and Francks (1998) edition, pp270-271], ¶18-26). 



Entity: [Ultimately from the Greek on[ta] and the Latin ens via its genitive entis.] "1. Being, existence [.....]. 2. That which constitutes the being of a thing; essence, essential nature [.....]. 3. Something that has a real existence; an ens, as distinguished from a mere function, attribute, relation, etc." (O.E.D.). Philosophical considerations of entity-ness go back to the earliest classical philosophers, and to humankind's long-standing search for the fundamentals of existence. Thus Democritus and his indivisible atoms and the Pythagoreans and their elements both predate the Platonic analysis of form and the Aristotelian analysis of substance [the Platonic position has already been introduced in G.2, and the Aristotelian in the entries for category and natural kind]. Plato's views are neatly summarised in the Cratylus dialogue, thus: "[Things] are not in relation to us [but] are by themselves, in relation to their own being or essence, which is theirs by nature" (Plato, Cratylus, 386e; Reeve translation, p5). Two millennia later, Spinoza (1677) was still defining substance as "that which is in itself and is conceived through itself", and attribute as "that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of a substance". Our initial conclusions are therefore (a) that the notion of the unit of reality is fundamental to mental philosophy, and (b) that the word "entity" is simply one of many optional terms for the external objects in the world, with English texts preferring "object" and German ones generally preferring Existenz, Dasein, Vorstellung, or Gegenstand. Heidegger (or more accurately his translators) helped popularise the modern term in Being and Time, as the standard rendering of the German Seiendes, introducing it as follows .....


"..... we must keep in mind that the expression 'phenomenon' signifies that which shows itself in itself, the manifest. Accordingly the φαινομενα or 'phenomena' are the totality of what lies in the light of day or can be brought to the light - what the Greeks sometimes identified simply with τα οντα (entities). Now an entity can show itself from itself [.....] in many ways, depending in each case on the kind of access we have to it" (Heidegger, 1927/1962, p51; bold emphasis added).


Heidegger's main question was whether "material thinghood" (p132) is the same thing as Being, or, conversely, whether "in an entity which is supposedly a Thing, there is something that will not become fully intelligible through Thinghood alone" (Heidegger, 1927/1962, p132). His suggested answer was that entities need to be "grasped in their Being as 'presence'; this means that they are understood with regard to a definite mode of time - the 'Present'" (p47). More recently, there have been a number of academic and technical areas where entities are recognized as "the elements or parts of a system" (Kramer and de Smit, 1977, p14), "to a significant degree discontinuous with the environment that contains them" (Salthe, 1985, p23). The term is also heavily used in database theory, where the entire process of data modelling is based upon the entity-relationship diagram [the distinction made by database designers between entity type and entity occurrence being particularly illuminating]. Coming right up to date, Fine (2003) has reexamined the classical texts in the light of her notion of "relational entities" (p326).



Entity Occurrence: [See firstly entity and entity type.] In database theory, an entity occurrence is a specific instantiation of an entity type in a physical database. It is thus a record of a particular type for a specific entity in a specific database. Example: There might be ten million occurrences of the entity type <person> in a database of New York residents, and another ten million in a similar database of London residents, and so on.



Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD): [See firstly Bachman diagram.] An ERD is nowadays the standard graphical tool for the summative presentation of a system's entity-relationship model. The technique was first developed in the early 1960s to provide semantic network database designers with their Bachman diagrams. By the mid-1960s, however, a surging demand for the necessary design skills prompted formal system for their production. The key publications here were Codd (1970) and Chen (1976), and the resulting products - flat-file databases (popularly, but misleadingly, "relational" databases) - have dominated the non-volatile database marketplace ever since. So successfully did this new tool do the job that it rapidly became the industry standard, so that computing today still works to a de facto philosophy which recognises only three fundamental building blocks of reality, namely attributes, entity types, and the relationships between entity types. Attributes it defines as the PROPERTIES of things; as atomic items of data, each of which is capable of being named, but of not being further divided. Entities it defines as the THINGS which matter to, and therefore need to be identified by, the system; as objects real or conceptual within the world real or conceptual. Each entity is thus a collection of attributes. Relationships are the reasons entities may be associated. They are assertions of truth about the subject area, and take the form "a man can own many dogs" note that both the subject and object of this truth are themselves entities]. It is important also to consider the pluralities involved, noting carefully whether the association is essentially One-to-Many, Many-to-One, or One-to-One. For example, the relationship between <NORMAL PERSON> and <HEAD> is One-to-One, whilst that between <NORMAL PERSON> and <COIN IN POCKET> is One-to-Many. Insofar as an ERD is a rough and ready ontology, it is not surprising that its constituent elements are all deeply rooted in mental philosophy. [For some initial thoughts on what shape a data model of biological cognition might one day take, see self, Bachman diagram of.]



Entity-Relationship Model: [See firstly data model.] "The Entity-Relationship Model is a data model for high-level descriptions of conceptual data models and it provides a graphical notation for representing such data models in the form of entity-relationship diagrams. Such data models are typically used in the first stage of information system design and are used for example to describe information needs and/or the type of information that is to be stored in the database [.....].In the case of the design of an information system that is based on a database, the conceptual model is at a later stage, usually called logical design, mapped to a logical data model, such as the relational model, which in turn is mapped to a physical model during physical design" (Wikipedia). [For some initial thoughts on what shape a data model of biological cognition might one day take, see self, Bachman diagram of.]



Entity Type: [See firstly entity.] The concept of entity type was invented by data analysts in the late 1950s to assist them in defining what records needed to be designed into a computer system. In this technical sense, an entity type's individual qualities are known as attributes, and they influence each other through relationships [note the clear similarity to the first of Aristotle's categories, namely that of ousia, as "substance, entity"]. This technical approach to entities may be seen in theoretical mathematics (e.g., as Set Theory), in theoretical cognitive science (e.g., as propositional networks), in academic computer science (e.g., as semantic networks), and in commercial data processing. In all these instances, entities need to be defined and the supporting understanding is achieved by a process known as data analysis, and set out in a data model. We hear echoes of this technical concept in a whole host of far earlier philosophical concepts, including Plato's ειδος and Hegel's fürsichsein. [Compare forms and ideas in the pump-priming definitions at the head of this appendix, because we strongly suspect that the data analyst's entity type refers to the same species of reality as Plato's ειδε.]



Ependymins: [See firstly calcium switching.] If calcium-switched post-synaptic sensitisation has a lifetime measured in hours, then it cannot explain memory for longer periods. Membrane sensitisation, in other words, is NOT the sort of structural change long believed to be involved in the formation of LTM engrams, and so we still need a mechanism capable of consolidating memory into a structural form. A typical worker in this latter area is Victor Shashoua of the Harvard Medical School. Working with goldfish, he has shown (Shashoua, 1985) that "busy" synapses create soluble proteins capable of passing out through the cell membrane. He names these proteins ependymins, and what is important about them is that they become insoluble if there is then a sudden local depletion of calcium ions. Whenever this happens, they precipitate out of solution and form a fibrous aggregation, or "tangle", on the outer surface of the post-synaptic membrane. This tendency is therefore marginally more pronounced in the region surrounding each synaptic button due to the inward migration of calcium ions as the action potential arrives, and is even more pronounced in the region between two or more simultaneously active synaptic buttons (because the available calcium ion reserves are being depleted into their several synaptic gaps). Shashoua then suggests that this in some way encourages the synaptic buttons to expand physically in the direction of the tangles: "A working hypothesis for the role of ependymins in learning involves two synapses - one strong, the other weak - converging on a single dendrite. During associative learning, a sequential or simultaneous firing of the strong synapse, which has a large area, together with the weak synapse, which has a small area, results in a depletion of extracellular calcium at a locus between the two inputs. An extracellular matrix is formed by the polymerisation of the ependymins at the region of greatest depletion of calcium. This is followed by growth of the weak synapse along the path defined by the matrix to form a strong synapse. As a consequence, an originally weak signalling point in a neural circuit is transformed into a powerful one that can independently signal the dendrite" (Shashoua, 1985, p369). Shashoua's scheme is important, because it gives us at least one physiological mechanism capable of fulfilling Hebb's Rule.



Epidemic Hysteria: See hysteria, epidemic.



Epiphenomenon: [See firstly mind-brain debate.] "Something that appears in addition" (O.E.D.); a by-product or accidental spin-off, but one which may nevertheless turn out to have a value in its own right; "a secondary phenomenon that results from and accompanies another" (The Free Dictionary). Something which is "causally inefficacious" (Wikipedia). The term epiphenomenon is frequently encountered in the mind-brain debate. This is because it allows the mind to be treated as an emergent property of neural activity, and accordingly to remain the subject of psychological and philosophical investigation without interfering too much with the hard neuroscience carried out by physiologists. [See now epiphenomenalism.]



Epiphenomenalism: [See firstly mind-brain debate and epiphenomenon.] One of the three main not-quite-sure-yet philosophical positions on the mind-brain debate (the others being emergentism and identity theory). Epiphenomenalists subscribe to the notion that "mental events are caused by physical events but have no causal effects themselves" (Gray, 1987, p462). Alternatively, "the classical form of epiphenomenalism [denies] that mental-to-physical causal action ever takes place .....] Mental phenomena are totally causally inert" (Kim, 1993, p104; emphasis added). In fact, Kim doubts that epiphenomenalism is a valid position in the first place, seeing it as fatally flawed logically. He follows Lachs (1963) in arguing that the very fact we are able to discuss events implies that they have caused that at least! Nevertheless, the term epiphenomenon is regularly encountered in the mind-brain debate, because it allows the mind to be treated as an emergent property of this or that underlying neural activity. On balance, however, many authors regard identity theory as superior in that it does not rule out mental-to-physical causation quite so high-handedly. One of Kim's (1993) observations puts the central issue very succinctly, thus: "Given that any physical event has a physical cause, how is a mental cause also possible?" (p281).



Episodic Memory: The concept of a specifically "episodic" memory derives from a 1972 paper by Endel Tulving, who argued that the material used in memory experiments was far from "natural" (Tulving, 1972). In particular, it did not tap the ability of subjects to record their personal life events in the form of an internal autobiography. Tulving therefore proposed distinguishing episodic memory - the memory for occurrence or episode, from semantic memory - the memory of meaning. Episodic memory is thus LTM for past events - a sort of mental life history on video [e.g., the ability to recall what you had for breakfast this morning]. Episodic memory is basically a time-sequenced accumulation of past perceptual scene analyses, and in the very long term it tends to be the emotional events which get remembered best [e.g., first kisses, stressful examinations and interviews, insults, anger, indebtedness, etc.]. The name "flashbulb memory" [definition] is sometimes given to events such as assassinations and disasters, where the emotion is so intense that it freezes the imagery in time [which is why those who are old enough can remember what they were doing when they heard of President Kennedy's assassination (younger readers will in due course experience much the same phenomenon with the September 11th attacks)]. [See now episodic versus semantic memory, event memory, imagery, and Script Theory.]



Episodic Memory Organisation Packet (E-MOP): [See firstly the entry in the LayNetworks e-glossary.] The episodic memory access mechanisms proposed here help provide the indexing necessary to achieve effective random access to the body of LTM. 



Episodic versus Semantic Memory: [See firstly episodic memory.] Tulving gave many examples to illustrate the difference between episodic memory and semantic memory. Episodic memories would include the fact that ten years ago one moved house, or that last Saturday one went to a wedding, or that one passed one 's driving test in 1991. Semantic memories would include one 's ability to know that water boils at 100o centigrade, that "to wane" means "to get smaller", and that penguins are birds (but possibly also books or chocolate bars). More recently, Tulving (1987) has described episodic memory as the "highest memory system" (p72) because it gives people their uniqueness - their memories of their personal past lives. Semantic memory, by contrast, is remarkably constant from person to person, and does not need to relate to specific objects and events in order to be used (nor, in most cases, can you even remember where or when you learned something). Thus, whilst we may well have all done different things yesterday, we would, if asked to define the word "chair", generate more or less the same definition. In other words, episodic memory is personalised and unique, but semantic memory is far more encyclopaedic.



Episteme: [<επιστημη> Greek = "knowledge, intelligence, insight; skill; science, art" (O.C.G.D.).] See epistemology in G.2.



Epistemic Subject: [See firstly consciousness, Piaget's theory of.] The "epistemic subject" is how Piagetian theory approaches the age-old problem of understanding self. The term is derived ultimately from the Greek episteme [= "knowledge"], and thus refers to the subject as known conceptually. In other words, it is what others have referred to as "self-concept" (e.g., Rogers, 1947) or "conceptual self" (Neisser, 1988, 1991). Piaget's main point is that the epistemic subject is - by the very token that it is based on knowledge - inevitably going to undergo change with developmental age. Specifically, the epistemic subject during the sensorimotor period is going to be a sensorimotor epistemic subject, during the pre-operational stage it is going to be a pre-operational epistemic subject, and so on. In a recent review of the area, Mays (1998) traces the development of the epistemic self as follows .....


"Although the notion of the epistemic self as contrasted with the individual self appears relatively late in Piaget's writings, it is foreshadowed by his earlier notion of the 'personality' [.....]. Piaget's later distinction between an individual and an epistemic self is, it is true, closer to Kant's distinction between the empirical ego and the transcendental ego. [.....] Piaget's epistemic self has, nevertheless, some of the attributes of Kant's transcendental ego. It is concerned with those conceptual structures which it has in common with other subjects of the same level of development, independently of their individual interests. But [.....] unlike Kant's a priori concept, the epistemic self is constructed at the same time as the structures it constructs. As Piaget puts it, 'In a word, the subject exists because in a general fashion the "being" of the structures is their structuration'. Piaget does not therefore accept a Kantian transcendental ego which stands over and above experience, the epistemic self is immanent within consciousness" (Mays, 1998, p41).


He also passes on the following helpful quotation .....


"There is a 'psychological subject', centred on the conscious ego whose functional role is incontestable, but which is not the origin of any structure of general knowledge; but there is also the 'epistemic subject' or that which is common to all subjects at the same level of development, whose structures derive from the most general mechanisms of the coordination of actions" (Mays, 1998, p47n, quoting from Beth and Piaget, 1966, p308).



Epistemology: See the G.2 pump-priming definitions.



Epistemology, Genetic: This is the class-defining Piagetian stance on epistemology in general, as set out in L'épistémologie Génétique ("Genetic Epistemology") (Piaget, 1970/1970). Here is Piaget's own introductory definition .....


"Genetic epistemology attempts to explain knowledge, and in particular scientific knowledge, on the basis of its history, its sociogenesis, and especially the psychological origins of the notions and operations upon which it is based" (Piaget, 1970/1970, p1).


Piaget was, however, far from impressed with the academic insularity shown by his philosophical contemporaries, and was not above passing the occasional pointed comment, thus .....


"The first principle of genetic epistemology, then, is this - to take psychology seriously. Taking psychology seriously means that, when a question of psychological fact arises, psychological research should be consulted instead of trying to invent a solution by private speculation" (p9).


Nevertheless, Piaget fully recognised that psychology could never be the only relevant epistemological discipline. With competing physics theories, for example, the final judgment could only ever be made by physicists themselves: it was the genetic epistemologist's job merely "to explain how the transition is made from a lower level of knowledge to a level that is judged to be higher" (p13). He stated the "fundamental hypothesis" of genetic epistemology as follows .....


"The fundamental hypothesis of genetic epistemology is that there is a parallelism between the progress made in the logical and rational organisation of knowledge and the corresponding formative psychological processes" (p13).


This led him to summarise how he saw human thinking processes being organised, his key point being that "to know is to assimilate reality into systems of transformations" (p15). As for the role of language in thought, he judged that it was useful, but that it was not the whole story .....


"This, in fact, is our hypothesis: that the roots of logical thought are not to be found in language alone, even though language coordinations are important, but are to be found more generally in the coordination of actions, which are the basis of reflective abstraction" (pp18-19).


Piaget concludes the book as follows .....


"The nativist or apriorist maintains that the forms of knowledge are predetermined inside the subject and thus again, strictly speaking, there can be no novelty. By contrast, for the genetic epistemologist, knowledge results from continuous construction, since in each act of understanding, some degree of invention is involved; in development, the passage from one stage to the next is always characterised by the formation of new structures which did not exist before, either in the external world or in the subject's mind" (p77).



Epoche: [Greek <εποχη> = "stoppage, station, position (of a planet), fixed point of time" (O.E.D.).] [See firstly consciousness, Husserl's theory of.] Epoche (or, in full, "phenomenological epoche") is Husserl's notion of a process by which convenient blocks of current awareness are progressively "bracketed off", or "disconnected" from the totality of the available perceptual scene.



EPSP: See excitatory post-synaptic potential.



Equilibrium: In the context of neurotransmission, equilibrium exists at a given point on the neural cell membrane for as long as the ion concentration is such that the three competing molecular transport forces (random molecular movement, metabolic pumping, and electrostatic forces) successfully balance each other out to give a resting potential of -70mV.



Equipment: This is Macquarrie and Robinson's (1962) rendering of Heidegger's (1927) usage of the word Zeug. Heidegger was discussing the role played by what he called "environmentality and worldhood" in perception, and needed a term to reflect things-which-had-purpose. He chose Zeug, and used it thus .....


"We shall call those entities which we encounter in concern 'equipment' [Zeug]. In our dealings we come across equipment for writing, sewing, working, transportation, measurement. The kind of Being which equipment possesses must be exhibited. The clue for doing this lies in our first defining what makes an item of equipment - namely its equipmentality. Taken strictly, there 'is' no such thing as an equipment, in which it can be this equipment that it is. Equipment is essentially 'something in-order-to ...' [..... and i]n the 'in-order-to' as a structure there lies an assignment or reference of something to something" (Being and Time, p97).



Equipmentality: See equipment.



Erasistratus: [Greek physician (floruit ca. 280BC).] [No significant external biography available] Erasistratus followed the tradition of Herophilus in carrying out detailed dissections of the brain, concluding that it was the source of both sensory and motor nerves.



ERD: See entity-relationship diagram.



Ereignis: [German = "happening, event, occurrence, incident" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German term for something which takes place was specifically applied to mental philosophy by Heidegger, who used it occasionally in Being and Time (Heidegger, 1927), but who made a lot more of it in his later writings, where it came to signify  "the opening up of the open space required for meaning" (Sheehan, 1984, p288).



Erfahrung: [German = "(practical) experience, empirical knowledge" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German word for experiential experience has inevitably been drawn into the lexicon of mental philosophy. Kant made much of it in his Critique, for example, describing it as a "thoroughgoing and synthetic unity of perceptions", which unity, in turn, is "but the synthetic unity of appearances according to concepts" (Kant, 1781,1787/1996, p161), whilst for Husserl phenomenology was nothing less than the "science of experience" (Ideas, p39). [Now compare Erlebnis.]



Erfassen: [German = (as verb) "to grasp, to capture, to embrace, to conceive, etc."; (as noun) "conception"] This everyday German term for the general behaviour of getting hold of something was specifically applied to the process of apprehension by Husserl (e.g., Ideas, p110) as something distinct from the associated processes of attending to, and noting the nature of, the thing apprehended. The derived noun Erfassung may occasionally be seen indicating the acts of grasping, capturing, embracing, etc. which correspond to the verbs.



Erfassung: [German = "inclusion" (C.G.D.).] See Erfassen.



Erikson, Erik: [German psychoanalyst (1902-1994).] [Click for external biography] Erikson is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on identity and the stages of its development.



Erlebnis: [(Pl. Erlebnisse) German = "(personal) experience, adventure; occurrence, event" (C.G.D.).] This everyday German word for an occurrence of some sort has inevitably been drawn into the lexicon of mental philosophy, where, following Husserl (e.g., Ideas, p101), the plural word Erlebnisse indicates "pure experiences" as lived through. [See now experience, experiential and compare Erfahrung.]



Ermey, R. Lee: [American actor, previously US Marine Corps drill instructor (1944-).] [Click for external biography] Ermey is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for the real-life insights he brought to the movie Full Metal Jacket [as discussed in the entry for bullying in the military].



Eros: See Freudian theory.



Erotic Complex: See complex, erotic.



Errands Tests: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] TO FOLLOW 



Erschliessen: [German = "open, open up, make accessible, exploit, develop [.....] infer, conclude" (C.G.D.).] [See firstly disclosure.] This everyday German term for the act of opening something up to get at what might be inside was specifically applied to mental philosophy by Heidegger, who used it (along with aufschliessen and entdecken) for the sort of "laying open" of the things which really currently matter to a cognizing system, given the particular momentary exposure of that cognizing system to the complexities of the world.



Essential Insight: [See firstly consciousness, Husserl's theory of.] This is Husserl's term for "knowledge of essences independent of knowledge of facts" (Ideas, p407), a concept which he explains more fully as follows .....


"Pure essential truths do not make the slightest assertion concerning facts; hence from them alone we are not able to infer even the pettiest truth concerning the fact-world. Just to think a fact or to express it needs the grounding of experience [.....], so thought concerning pure essence [.....] needs for its grounding and support an insight into the essences of things" (Husserl, Ideas, p51).



Estelle: See case, Estelle.



Ethics, Aesthetics, and Law: This is one of the three classical branches of philosophy (the others being causation, logic, and scientific method and mental philosophy), and incorporates the study of what is moral, beautiful, and legal.



Ethnocentrism: See personality, authoritarian and ethnocentric.



Euphoria: [See firstly differential diagnosis, psychiatric.] [From the Greek eu = "(generic) good" + pherein = "to bear", via the derivative euphron = "cheerful, joyous" (O.C.G.D.).] Same as elevated mood. Euphoria is "the perfect ease and comfort of healthy persons, especially when the sensation occurs in a sick person" (O.E.D.). As such, euphoria is a clinical sign used in the differential diagnosis of-and-within the various mood disorders, personality disorders, and schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. First, Frances, and Pincus (1995) actually treat euphoria and irritability as a single sign, and provide a detailed decision tree (pp62-63) with major exit points for bipolar 1 disorder, bipolar 2 disorder, cyclothymic disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. [Contrast dysphoria and euthymia.]



Euthymia: [From the Greek eu = "(generic) good" + thymos = "emotional intensity".] This is the technical name for normal everyday non-depressed good mood, that is to say, not elevated as such, as in euphoria. [Contrast dysthymia.]



Event: In everyday usage, "anything that happens or is contemplated as happening; an incident, occurrence [.....]; that which proceeds from the operation of a cause; a consequence, result" (O.E.D.). In philosophy and science the same, but (1) as part of a more general search for the fundamental laws of causation in nature, (2) inspired by the belief that this search will proceed more profitably if guided by the scientific method (rather than, say, by meditation or oracular consultation), and (3) with a constant battle against "events" turning out upon closer inspection to consist of lesser events. Kim (1993, p4) reduces the philosophical issue to the following question: "In what relation must a pair of events stand to a law [i.e. of causation] if the law is to 'subsume' the events?". Kim also points to an interesting hole in the scientific method, namely that it is deceptively easy to overfocus on events to the exclusion of the matrix of states - the uneventful times - within which the events take place. [See now macrocausation versus microcausation.]



Event Memory: Another view of the episodic versus semantic memory distinction comes from Roger Schank of Northwestern University. Schank is a leading AI researcher who has been forced to postulate different subtypes of episodic memory in order to make progress with cognitive modelling on computers. To start with, he distinguishes between specific event memories (EMs), which he describes as "specific remembrances of particular situations" (Schank, 1982, p230), and generalised event memories (GEMs), which are abstractions from many EMs. A specific event is thus synonymous with Tulving's episode: GEMs, on the other hand, are what is left once the specifics of recurring EMs have been forgotten - they are the common features of those EMs. Schank also identifies intentional memories, which contain the rules for "getting people to do things for you" (ibid., p231), and scripts. In Schank's view, much of what we experience as simple acts of recollection are in fact a complex combination of both EMs and GEMs, supplemented by intentional memories, and influenced by the scripts for the situations and settings involved. Thus, if you can conjure up that isolated image of your primary school classroom, you can guess an awful lot as to what else must have been going on at the time from what you know about schools, teachers, classrooms, being young, and so forth. [Now see story memory.]



Evolution of Mind: See abstraction, phylogenetic limits of.



Exchanged Personality: See Gmelin, Eberhardt.



Excitatory Post-Synaptic Potential (EPSP): [See firstly post-synaptic potential.] A local 3-4mV depolarisation of the post-synaptic neural membrane, following the arrival of an action potential at the pre-synaptic side of the synaptic cleft, provided only that the neurotransmitter involved is excitatory. This depolarising event is important, because it moves the receiving neuron closer to its action potential threshold, thus making it more likely to fire. [Contrast inhibitory post-synaptic potential.]



Executive Function: [See firstly frontal lobe syndrome.] That which occupies the processor(s) at the top of the motor hierarchy, and therefore the faculty (or cluster of faculties) which is failing in dysexecutive syndrome. In fact, four major components of executive functioning may be identified, namely (a) orienting towards and attending properly to the things which really matter in one's surroundings, (b) inhibiting impulsivity of response, in favour of (c) appropriate forward planning, (d) executing - and meaningfully monitoring the execution of - the resulting plans. [See now frontal battery.] 



Executive Function Route Finding Test: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] This is a formally standardised and published psychometric test of executive function (and thus part of a typical modern frontal battery). It was devised by Boyd and Sauter (1985), and intended to quantify performance at the forward planning component of executive function.



Existent (1/2): (1) In everyday English, the word "existent" is used only as an adjective, as in "an existent [or non-existent] object". (2) In philosophical English, however, the word is also used as a substantive, to indicate "one that exists independently" (Houghton Mifflin), that is to say, as an entity occurrence. Here is an example of this latter usage .....


"If this is so, then it is also an indispensable law of empirical presentation of the time series that the appearances of past time determine every existent [Dasein] in the following time; and that these existents, as events, do not take place except insofar as their existence [Dasein] is determined in time ....." (Kant, Critique, p267).



Exocytosis: This is the technical name for the releasing of neurotransmitter chemicals into the synaptic cleft by passing "bubbles" of them - synaptic vesicles - out through the pre-synaptic cell membrane.



Experience: In everyday English, the word "experience" is used both as a verb and as a noun. It is also used in a number of subtly different senses, dealt with in this glossary under the fuller descriptors experience, experiential and experience, phenomenological.



Experience, Experiential: This is a more formally precise rendering of one of the two everyday usages of the word "experience" (the other being experience, phenomenal). The phrase is widely used in Husserl's Ideas (Husserl, 1913/1931) as a translation for the German word Erlebnis [although as such it presumably reflects the vocabulary of the translator, W.R. Boyce Gibson, rather than the author himself], and it refers in a general sense to the things we have learned by having lived through them. For Heidegger, the issue was just as fundamental, and he, too, grounds his analytic in an earlier observation by Dilthey on the "experiences of this life [die Erlebnisse dieses Lebens]" (Macquarrie and Robinson, 1962, p72 footnote). The notion of experience as an accumulation of some sort of life skills overlaps, in part at least, with Piaget's genetic epistemology, and the task of breaking that accumulation down into its component nodes and relationships (or whatever may yet prove to be required) is currently exercising the semantic network fraternity.



Experience, Phenomenal: This is the more precise philosophical term for one of the two everyday usages of the word "experience" (the other being experience, experiential). In this sense, experience is the end result of the process of aesthesis [see the G.2 pump-priming definitions]. It is "the fact of being consciously the subject of a state or condition, or of being consciously affected by an event" (O.E.D.). It is that which, in passing through the processes of perception, has just achieved phenomenal consciousness. Experience - both what it is and what it tells us about our minds - has been a central topic of enquiry since classical times. For Plato, for example, it was "the eye of the soul" (Hare and Russell, 1970, p20), giving us a point of contact with the outside world, and reflecting thereby "the ability of soul and body to come together in a single experience (pathos)" (Ostenfeld, 1982, p240). Kant, too, recognised phenomenal experience as the problem of mental philosophy. Indeed, the opening point in his Critique of Pure Reason (Kant, 1781, 1787/1996) was that you cannot extend the fact that all cognition "starts with experience" to the conclusion that it all "arises from experience" (p44). For Husserl, the notion is encapsulated in his term Erlebnis, with its connotations of events as things to be lived through, but then needing to be painstakingly subdivided into experience which can be bracketed off [see epoche] and pure experience, that which will remain once all possible bracketings have been carried out [see experience, primordial]. Coming right up to date, Nagel (1979) sees phenomenal experience as key to his "What's It Like to Be?" Test, thus: "The fact that an organism has conscious experience at all means, basically, that there is something it is like to be that organism" (Nagel, 1979, p166). For more recent views on what experience is and where it fits in to modern theories of consciousness, look firstly at the role of perception in constructing phenomenal consciousness, and then move on to consciousness, Metzinger's theory of to see how big the problem really is and where things might currently be leading.



Experience, Primordial: See consciousness, Husserl's theory of.



Experiential Experience: See experience, experiential.



Experiential Learning: Term devised by Kolb (1983) to refer to conceptual knowledge acquired over time from simple performance, and generally applied specifically within educational theory rather than within mainstream memory theory. The principle of experiential learning is that conceptual knowledge [ie. semantic memory] should not be taught explicitly, because that approach verges on rote learning, and is largely ineffective. Instead, it needs to be based on natural or contrived learning experiences. These experiences create a corpus of episodic memory, event memory, and procedural memory, which, over time, by processes of abstraction and reflection, create true understanding. Much of the critical acclaim for Kolb's approach derives from the fact that it integrates the various types of knowledge exceptionally well. Kolb's disciples Dennison and Kirk (1990) use the motto "Do - Review - Learn - Apply" to summarise the substages of the overall process.



Explanation: [See firstly construal.] An explanation is "that which explains, makes clear, accounts for [..... especially] with a view to adjust a misunderstanding and reconcile differences" (O.E.D.). Alternatively, it is "an argument to the effect that the phenomenon to be explained [.....] was to be expected by virtue of certain explanatory facts" (Hempel, 1965, p336), although you owe it to your audience (and yourself) to set the core explanation in as broad a context as possible. A good explanation thus provides a system of  proposed causal rules, which, taken together, states the "particular 'go'" of a natural phenomenon, and gives some insight into not just how something works, but of why it makes broad sense for it to work that way given what else we know about the world. This latter quality is akin to what Kant (1781/1787) called the "systematic unity" of the best scientific understanding: our cognitions, he warns, "must not amount to a rhapsody; rather, they must amount to a system" (op. cit., p755). [Example: To experience for oneself what is involved in producing a thorough explanation, try this long-running poser: How much does smoke weigh, and why (after Kant, 1781/1787, p255).] Reich (2004) offers a useful systematization of this broader process, in his eight-step "RCR" [Relational and Contextual Reasoning] heuristic.



Explanatory Gap: [See firstly explanation, mind-brain debate, and reductionism.] This is the name given to the conceptually grey area between what is explained by neurophysiological microdata and what is explained by mental world macrodata. It became a popular topic of scientific discussion following Levine's (1983) focus paper on the subject, and the central problem seems to be that our minds cannot grasp how something as intangible as a mind might be reduced to individually straightforward electrochemical events. Our minds do not feel reducible to neural crackle, and so, ignorant of the necessary mechanisms of supervenience, we convince ourselves that that cannot be how they work.


ASIDE: For our own part, we suggested in Smith (1998) that philosophy's explanatory gap could profitably be regarded as a "compiler gap", our point being that computer engineers in the 1950s had unwittingly solved the problem of reduction when they invented compilers, that is to say, systems software products which convert high-level generalities (known as "source code instructions") by the dozen into low-level specifics (known as "machine instructions") by the tens of thousand. Cognitive science would do well to note that source code supervenes precisely onto object code, and that object code supervenes precisely onto activity in the underlying circuitry (the non-biological equivalent of neural crackle), the very requirements of a workable reductionist theory.



Extended Present: See consciousness, Humphrey's theory of.



Extended Self: See self, extended.



Externality: [See firstly agency.] This is Russell's (1996) term for "what it means for a subject (a human infant in particular) to have a conception of objects existing in the external world independently from his or her experience of them" (p97).



Extracellular Fluid (ECF): This is the generic term for all non-cellular bodily fluids. There are three main types of ECF, two of which, lymph and blood, are confined into circulatory systems and do not concern us here. The third type, the interstitial fluid is not circulated as such, but simply fills in all the gaps between the other components of the body.



Extreme Transference: See transference, extreme.



Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): This is a recently developed psychotherapeutic intervention in which mild bilateral physical stimulation by the therapist is used to "stitch together" [our term] the current contents of consciousness and preconsciousness, and which, if properly prepared for and timed, is thus capable of reassociating previously dissociated memory fragments. The technique was developed by Francine Shapiro of the Mental Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA, and is now marketed by the EMDR International Association. In fact, Shapiro chanced upon the technique back in 1989 when she noted that a period of fortuitously vigorous later eye movements brought about a pronounced reduction in her personal stress levels. It subsequently emerged, however, that it was the bilaterality of the stimulation which mattered, and that tactile or auditory bilateral stimulation was just as effective. [See PubMed for individual papers on the EMDR technique.]



Eysenck, Hans J.: [British personality theorist and psychometrician (1916-1997).] [Click for external biography] Eysenck is noteoworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on personality and its measurement.



f-Awareness: See fact-awareness.



Fact-Awareness: [Or "f-awareness", for short.] This is one of the three subtypes of awareness suggested by Dretske (e.g., 1997) [the others being object awareness and property awareness]. For further details, see consciousness, Dretske's theory of.



Factitious Disorders: This is a psychiatric condition in which physical or psychological symptoms are feigned "in order to assume the sick role". The condition is more common in women than men except in its severest form, known as "Munchausen's syndrome", and lacks obvious financial or other tangible motivation. Feldman (2004) offers us case, Rhonda to illustrate.



Facticity: [Anglicisation of the itself-artificial German Faktizität.] This is Heidegger's term for the it-knows-it's-really-thereness of a knowing entity, although he puts it a lot better himself .....


"Dasein understands its ownmost Being in the sense of a certain 'factual Being-present-at-hand'. [.....] Whenever Dasein is, it is as a Fact; and the factuality of such a Fact is what we shall call Dasein's 'facticity'" (Being and Time, p82).



Fairbairn, William Ronald Dodge: [Scottish psychoanalyst (1889-1964).] [Click for external biography] Fairbairn is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on object relations theory, schizotypy, and splitting.



Fake Phantom Limb: See phantom limb.



Faktizität: Artificial German = "facticity", q.v.



Falcon, Jean Philippe: [French weaver (fl. 1728).] [No significant external biography available] See Materialism and underlying mechanism.



False Belief Task: The innocently named "false belief task" is in fact the basis of the one of the most theoretically incisive research paradigms in the entire field of social cognition. In its simplest form, the paradigm is a test of "social metacognition", that is to say, of the subject's understanding of another person's understanding. Looked at in a different way, it is a test of the "order" of a subject's belief, as explained and illustrated in the entry for meta-representation. The test was first devised by Wimmer and Perner (1983) as a puppet-play scenario entitled Maxi and the Chocolate. Here is how the task is structured .....


"A story character, Maxi, puts chocolate into a cupboard x. In his absence his mother displaces the chocolate from x into cupboard y. Subjects have to indicate the box where Maxi will look for the chocolate when he returns. Only when they are able to represent Maxi's wrong belief ('Chocolate is in x') apart from what they themselves know to be the case ('Chocolate is in y') will they be able to point correctly to box x. This procedure tests whether subjects have an explicit and definite representation of the other's wrong belief. Yet there is neither a problem in framing the test question by using mental verbs (e.g., 'What does Maxi believe?') nor are subjects required to verbalise their knowledge about other's beliefs since a mere pointing gesture suffices" (Wimmer and Perner, 1983, p106).


Wimmer and Perner carried out four complementary experiments around the general false belief theme. In Experiment 2, for example, they tested 92 children aged three years [n=20], fours years [n=42], and five years [n=30], on both the "standard" scenario (in which the children were presented with the scenario and then required to respond to the following Belief Question: Where will Maxi look for the chocolate?") as well as variants thereof. In what they described as a "stop and think" variant, they extended the standard question as follows: "Think carefully! What did Maxi do before he went off to the playground? Now he wants to eat the chocolate. Where will he look for the chocolate?" A selection of their findings appears in the table below .....


Age (Years)



Score = 0

Score = 1

Score = 2








"Stop and Think"












"Stop and Think"












"Stop and Think"






Note the impressive improvement in false belief test performance between age three and age five, and the advantage of including the "stop and think" warning. The generic approach then became popular in the late 1980s after Baron-Cohen, Leslie, and Frith [U.] (1985) deployed the Sally-Anne variant of it to investigate the meta-representative abilities of children with autism [for more on this see theory of mind theory of autism]. False belief tasks have also been extensively used in research into schizophrenia [see theory of mind theory of schizophrenia], and, increasingly, are being simulated in artificial intelligence [see theory of mind, artificial intelligence and].



False Belief Task, Artificial Intelligence and: [See firstly false belief task.] It is common practice for workers on the artificial intelligence (AI) side of cognitive science to borrow investigative techniques from their colleagues on the biological side of things. The false belief task is no exception, having been adopted as a demonstrable criterion of the existence of mindedness within such areas as robotics (we particularly like Kanda et al, 2006/2007 online, whose robot "pretends" to be listening to you), expert systems (see, e.g., Barnden and Peterson, 2007 online), ACT-R propositional network systems (see, e.g., Emond and Ferres, 2001/2007 online), and imitation learning in man-made systems (see Schaal, 1999).



False Negative: See the entry for diagnostic tests and screening procedures, and any relevant onward links, in the companion glossary on "Research Methods and Psychometrics". [Compare false positive.]



False Positive: See the entry for diagnostic tests and screening procedures, and any relevant onward links, in the companion glossary on "Research Methods and Psychometrics". [Compare false negative.]



False Self: See true self versus false self.



Familiar Pattern Not Recognised: [See firstly cognitive framing and discrimination errors.] This is one of the four types of discrimination error described by Rasmussen (1982) (the others being familiar short cut, stereotype fixation, and stereotype take-over). It is what happens when an operator fails to recognise that a known complex control procedure is appropriate to a particular situation.



Familiar Short Cut: [See firstly cognitive framing and discrimination errors.] This is one of the four types of discrimination error described by Rasmussen (1982) (the others being familiar pattern not recognised, stereotype fixation, and stereotype take-over). It is what happens when an operator fails to recognise that a exceptional control exception has no prepared exception procedure available to cover it, and uses an incorrect exception procedure instead. 



Family Resource Management: This is a set of techniques for consciously adjusting the everyday behaviour of family members so as to cope more effectively with the needs of a target individual. It is thus similar to, but less formally managed than, out-and-out family therapy.  Family resource management has been used, for example, in the management of learning disabled children. Heads of activity include avoiding labelling, giving unconditional positive regard, and setting clear, consistent, and reasonable disciplinary boundaries and standards.



Family Therapy: [See firstly interventions.] "Family therapists help family members find constructive ways to help each other. They work in ways that acknowledge the contexts of people's families and other relationships, sharing and respecting individuals' different perspectives, beliefs, views and stories, and exploring possible ways forward" (Association for Family Therapy, 2006 online). [See online case study] [Contrast family resource management.]



Fatalism: Fatalism is "the doctrine that all things are determined by fate" (O.E.D.). It is thus one of the two philosophical / religious systems which deny a role for free will in guiding human behaviour (the other being Determinism).



Fear of Failure (FF): See personality, motivation and.



Fechner, Gustav Theodor: [German physicist (1801-1887).] [Click for external biography] [See firstly psychophysics in general and the work of Weber therein in particular.] Although by first profession a physicist, Fechner contributed significantly both to the philosophy of science and to the psychology of perception. He was appointed professor of physics at Leipzig in 1837, but gradually became inspired by the work of Weber and Helmholtz. Studying the literature, he became fascinated by the relationship between brain and mind, and by 1850 had become convinced that the essence of this relationship "was to be found in the quantitative relation between stimulus and sensation" (Flugel and West, 1964, p81), using data like those coming out of Weber's laboratory. Fechner therefore took up psychophysical experimentation for himself, and in 1860 published his results in Elemente der Psychophysik, still widely regarded as the holy book of experimental psychology. The entire science is based upon operationalising biological activation against external stimulus intensity. That is to say, different levels of luminosity (light), volume (sound), dilution (taste), etc. have logical causal effects on the corresponding sensory system. To account for what we today still know as "subliminal" levels of stimulation, Fechner adopted Herbart's (1816) notion of the limen, or "threshold of awareness".



Fehlleistung: [German Fehl = "fault, blemish, flaw" + Leistung = "performance, execution" (C.G.D.).] See parapraxis.



Felida X: See case, Felida X.



Ferenczi, Sandor: [Hungarian psychoanalyst (1873-1933).] [Click for external biography] Ferenczi is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on introjection.



Fermion: [Physics term - Click for external definition] This category of subatomic particles is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary because it is invoked by consciousness theorists of the "Quantum Consciousness" School. [See now consciousness, quantum, and compare boson.]



Field (1/2): (1 - Psychology) One of the major conceptual legacies of the Gestalt School of psychology was the proposal that the physicist's concept of gravitational and other force fields could profitably be imported into psychological theory. Kurt Koffka discusses the value of the field concept at length in Chapter 2 of his Principles (Koffka, 1935), and dates the concept to a 1911 conversation between himself, Wolfgang Köhler, and Max Wertheimer, during which Wertheimer made much of the notion of an isomorphism existing between "consciousness and the underlying physiological processes" (p53).


ASIDE: Note, however, that Freud had used the word Rindenfelder [= "cortical fields"] 20 years before in precisely this context - see the entry for Freud's diagrams and illustrations (On Aphasia, 1891/1992, p126) for details.


Wertheimer saw the physiological processes as consisting of interacting neural fields and the psychological aspects as corresponding "behavioral fields". However, the term did not become popular until it was incorporated into second generation Gestaltism in Kurt Lewin's Feldtheorie (e.g., Lewin, 1935). Lewin saw brain fields as creating mental "forces", each, in turn, defined by a "valence" (its direction and strength) and a "point of application". Recent advances in neuroscience have given field theory a new lease of life. Prominent here is the fact that one of the key drivers of neuronal excitability is electrostatic force, by far the strongest of the forces in the electromagnetic spectrum. Similarly, the entire quantum field theory of consciousness has been predicated upon the nuclear physics of field effects of this sort, and McFadden (2002) has recently argued how admirably placed such theories are to explain the binding problem. For a recent review of this area, see Perlovsky (2001). (2 - Computing) One of the three levels of data conventionally recognized in computer system design (the others being file and record). Specifically, a bit (or several) or byte (or several) of encoded data, possessing an externally defined significance. EXAMPLES: One's surname, house number, a postal code, the number of cans of beans on a supermarket shelf, etc., etc.



Field-Dependent: See cognitive style.



Field-Independent: See cognitive style.



Figan: See impulsivity.



Figure-Ground: [See firstly field (1) and perception.] This important Gestaltist notion asserts that one of the early duties of any perceptual system is in some way to pre-process the incoming visual (or auditory, etc.) scene, so that whatever information then passes up the system for higher processing stands a proportionately better chance of being accurately identified. Perception's greatest practical problem, as the Gestaltists saw it, was that you needed to mark out the object(s) of your attention - the figure(s) - against their background - the ground, and the thrust of the half dozen or so "Gestalt Laws" is that they help the perceptual system to achieve this [remember that the Gestalt School is so named because Gestalt is the German word for shape or figure]. Unfortunately, the Gestaltist position on the figure-ground phenomenon conceals some nasty phenomenological complications, because it allows a peripheral cognitive process to dictate what the more central processes eventually become aware of [for more on which, see the discussion of background intuitions in the entry for consciousness, Husserl's theory of]. Bergson (1911) summarizes the underlying philosophical issue thus: "All division of matter into independent bodies with absolutely determined outlines is an artificial division" (Matter and Memory, p259). Merleau-Ponty adds: "The perceptual 'something' is always in the middle of something else, it always forms part of a 'field'" (Merleau-Ponty, 1945/1962, p4). [Compare also Husserl's notion of epoche.]



Figures of Speech: Students of rhetoric have long recognized how "figures of speech" can take a quite basic lexicon and put it to (perhaps infinitely) rich use. Around 50 figures of speech have been identified, of which four - litotes, metaphor, synecdoche, and prosopopoeia - warrant dedicated entries in this glossary. Indeed, litotes and synecdoche are so intricately involved with what the linguists now call deixis - the identification of the subject of a particular thought - that they are worth noting briefly before moving on. Figures of speech are central to the Aristotelian debate about the nature of substance and how best to refer to it verbally [for more on which, see the entry for category].



File: Insofar as the lexicon of computing is concerned, files are sets of records brought together because they belong together, and so that they can be managed as a coherent unit. Files can be further classified according to their file type, that is to say, what type of data they contain and the purpose to which this data is put.



File Types: [See firstly file.] See variously database dump, database file, and indexed sequential file.



Final Common Pathway: This is Sherrington's (1906) descriptor for the final stretch of a skeletomuscular efferent tract, his point being that this particular pathway has to be used to excite the muscle(s) in question regardless of whether the excitation was "authorised" [our term] by a simple reflex, a complex reflex, an instinct, a habit, or any form of higher volition. [For the impact this structural arrangement has on the organisation of the control hierarchy, see impulsivity.]



First Messenger Neurotransmission: See second messenger neurotransmission.



First-Person Perspective: This is the name given to the basic property of consciousness which centres all experience on the individual possessing it. It is thus one of three aspects of perspectivalness. One important corollary of this is that it skews the available data away from the sort of objective (i.e., "third-party perspective") data normally required for scientific proof. Here is how Metzinger (2003) explains what is at stake .....


"A conscious self-model is not yet a phenomenal subject, because arguably pathological configurations (as in akinetic mutism) do exist, where a rudimentary conscious self appears without subjectivity, in the absence of a phenomenal first-person perspective. In order to meet this constraint, one needs a detailed and empirically plausible theory of how a system can internally represent itself for itself, and of how the mysterious phenomenon today called a 'first-person perspective' by philosophers can emerge in a naturally evolved information-processing system" (pp156-157).



Flashbulb Memory: See episodic memory and imagery.



Flat File: Same thing as indexed sequential file.



Flat-File Database: [See firstly entity-relationship diagram.]. One of many possible computer file types. Flat-file databases are one of the two main types of computer database (the other being network databases). Fundamentally, they consist of an indexed-sequential file, accessed using a structured query language.



Flattened Affect: See affect, flattened.



Flavell, John H: [American developmental psychologist (1928-).] [Click for external biography] Stanford University's John H. Flavell [academic homepage] is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on children's cognitive development -  see the entry for theory of mind, and the several onward links.



Forms: See the pump-priming definitions at the head of this appendix.



Forensic Ergonomics: In the context of this glossary, forensic ergonomics is the science of cognitive ergonomics extended into the area of litigation. This might be necessary, for example, if a court of law could not decide without the expert testimony of an applied psychologist whether a particular "operator" had been culpably negligent in a given adverse event.



Forward Model: This is Jordan's (1990) term for an efference copy memory store functionally located in the motor hierarchy, where it serves to reduce the nervous system's reliance on centrally processed sensory feedback in favour of more peripheral processing [for the history and technicalities of the efference copy/reafference concepts, see Section 4 of our e-paper on  "Basics of Cybernetics"]. The notion was then adopted by Frith [C.], Rees, and Friston (1998) to explain defective self-monitoring behaviour in schizophrenia. These latter authors explain the basics of the arrangement as follows .....


"We can predict the sensory consequences of our own actions very precisely on the basis of the motor commands that were issued to produce those actions and a knowledge of the sensory state at the time the commands were issued. Such precise prediction is not possible for independent events in the outside world. The prediction of sensory changes on the basis of motor commands is known as the 'forward model' (Jordan, 1990; Wolpert et al, 1995)" (Frith, Rees, and Friston, 1998, p172; bold emphasis added). [Readers may find Russell's (1996) "Receiver" thought experiment informative at this juncture.]


Frith et al then considered how cognition as a whole would perform if there was an artificially induced  mis-match between expected and actual sensation. You might go to move your arm, say, but fail to feel the customary reafference. Or you might feel the "feedback" in the absence of the volition. And the implications of this particular mental "loose connection" are surprisingly far-reaching, thus .....


"In this case the perceiver would erroneously conclude that external influences were causing his experiences. If his ability to distinguish between self-generated and other-generated sensations was generally impaired, then in the long run, his ability to perceived himself as an agent would also become impaired" (op. cit., p173).


Frith et al then present clinical and experimental data in support of the thesis that precisely such a defect in the sense of agency [a cognitive deficit if ever there was one], brought about by prior defects in patients' forward modelling system, underlies such symptoms of schizophrenia as the hearing of voices. Here are their conclusions .....


"We have suggested that many of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia can be explained in terms of failure in a 'self-monitoring' system. Although this system has its origins in a fairly simple scheme for the control and learning of motor responses, it has features that give it a key role in making a distinction between the self and the outside world. This is because the system can distinguish the perceptual changes which we control ourselves from those that occur independently. It is this experience that we can change so many of our perceptions 'at will' that provides the sense of agency that is a key component of the self" (op. cit., p177; bold emphasis added)



Forward, Susan: [American psychotherapist and author.] [See homepage] Susan Forward is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for her work on toxic parenting.



Fragile Self: See self, fragile.



Frame: [Psycholinguists, you may be better off with sentence frame; others, see schema and artificial intelligence (AI).] In everyday English, a "frame" is (amongst many other things) both "4. An established order, plan, scheme, system" and "11. A structure which serves as an underlying support" (O.E.D.). The word has thus been a natural alternative for psychological theorists wishing to convey the notion of cognitive structure without necessarily buying into any of the older schema-based systems. For example, Goffman (1974) used the term as such in his discussion of "frame analysis", and MIT's Marvin Minsky did likewise (e.g., Minsky, 1975/1977) when he was considering the knowledge representation structures which AI workers (not least roboticists) would need to build into the artificial minds of the man-made systems they were working on. AI's problem was how best to arrange for machine minds to encode and use their past experience, and the solution was to rely whenever possible on pre-formatting current sensory input along lines which had worked in the past. The process involves relying ultimately on the cognitive system's known powers of abstraction and association, and is best explained by example .....


 "A frame is a data structure for representing a stereotyped situation like being in a certain kind of living room or going to a child's birthday party. Attached to each frame are several kinds of information. Some of this information is about how to use the frame. Some is about what one can expect to happen next. Some is about what to do if these expectations are not confirmed. We can think of a frame as a network of nodes and relations. [.....] Collections of related frames are linked together into frame-systems. The effects of important actions are mirrored by transformations between the frames of a system. [.....] The frame-systems are linked, in turn, by an information retrieval network" (Minsky, 1975/1977, pp355-356; bold emphasis added).


The key elements within Minsky's notion of framing are (a) that a frame should allow for some sort of "conceptual viewpoint" (op. cit., p355) to be taken, and (b) that once a particular frame has been activated it should have "default assignments" at its "terminals" in case no specific current input for that terminal is yet available. The first of these elements, of course, implying as it does both a point of view (in space and time) and a sense of agency (in function), is the first-person perspective by another name, while the manipulating of terminal assignments is effectively what our supervisory attentional system does for us. Minsky's team at MIT proceeded to develop frame-based AI software for many years [see the Wikihistory].  


WHERE TO NEXT: It is important to realise that frame-assisted cognition comes at a distinct cost. It assists by not having us constantly repeat past problem solving, but the "top down" nature of the resulting expectations can be dangerous if not properly managed. Frames, in a word, are presumptive, and this regularly implicates them as causes of avoidable disasters. If interested in Minsky's work, per se, start with the entry for frame-system theory and then follow the link to the companion resource indicated. To explore the issue of avoidable disaster, start with cognitive framing and follow the onward links.



Frame Analysis: [See firstly frame.] This is Goffman's (1974) proposed system for the analysis of human social interaction in terms of pre-learned schemas. It is a frame theory as previously discussed, but it focuses on the management of behaviours appropriate to social interaction, not on behaviour in general [it would, for instance, exclude the sort of frame-driven interaction with the physical environment which is required by non-social activities such as walking, driving, programming video recorders, etc.]. Here is how Goffman introduces his system .....


"I assume that definitions of a situation are built up in accordance with principles of organisation which govern events [.....] and our subjective involvement in them; frame is the word I use to refer to such of these basic elements as I am able to identify" (Goffman, 1974, p10f, cited in König, 2007 online).


Goffman presented frame analysis as an integrated explanatory system, complete with its own vocabulary [click for detail, courtesy of Answers.Com].



Frame Error/ Framing Error: See cognitive framing.



Frame, Sentence: See sentence frame.



Frame-System Theory: [See firstly frame.] This is Minsky's (1975/1977) term for a theory of cognition based on frames and their manipulation [for a fuller discussion, see the companion resource].



Framework of Construal: See construal.



Free Association: This is the basic tactical tool of psychoanalysis as developed by Freud, probably around 1892 (Masson, 1985, p21n). The phrase itself is the standard (i.e., Strachey) rendering of the German term freier Einfall [= "spontaneous thought"]. Here are two extracts reflecting how Freud understood the technique .....


"The next day I made him [case, Rat Man] pledge himself to submit to the one and only condition of the treatment - namely, to say everything that came into his head, even if it was unpleasant to him, or seemed unimportant or irrelevant or senseless. I then gave him leave to start his communications with any subject he pleased ....." (Freud, 1909/1955, A Case of Obsessional Neurosis [Standard Edition (Volume 10)], p159).


"I and many others after me have repeatedly made such experiments with names and numbers thought of at random [.....]. Here the procedure is to produce a series of associations to the name which has emerged; these latter associations are accordingly no longer completely free but have a link, like the associations to the elements of dreams. One continues doing this until one finds the impulse exhausted. But by then light will have been thrown both on the motive and the meaning of the random choice of the name" (Freud, 1916/1962, Introductory Lectures (Lecture #6), pp136-137).


One of the "many others after me" mentioned above was Carl Jung. His preferred procedure was to use a stock list of 100 stimulus words, presented in two passes. On the first pass, he recorded the response word(s) [shown in the "reaction" column below] and the response time (RT), whilst on the second pass he was interested primarily in the items where the original response had been forgotten, and a different response word used [shown in the "reproduction" column below] [we recommend Winer (2002/2007 online) for a full tutorial on the technique]. Here is how Jung reported the associations of case, Miss E. in Jung (1918, p110) ..... 


Stimulus Word


Reaction Time (Seconds)


(If Different)

1. Head




2. Green




3. Water




4. Prick




5. Angel




6. Long




7. Ship





Jung's experience with this method was that the appropriate RT was 1.5 seconds, this being the figure he had obtained by averaging out data from "twelve educated persons" (Jung, 1918, p110). RTs markedly longer than this [items 4 and 6 above, for example] therefore attracted his analytical attention. Jung's experience was also that the second pass data could be clinically significant in their own right, in that if you combed out all of the incorrect items you would likely be looking at a complex. Jung assessed the impact of the method as follows ..... 


"All psychogenic neuroses contain a complex which is differentiated from normal complexes by being endowed with extremely strong emotional tones, possessing such constellating power that it brings the whole individual under its influence. The complex is hence the causa morbi (given, of course, the predisposition). The associations often enable us to recognise the nature of the complex, thus obtaining valuable clues for causal therapy. A by-product, not to be underestimated, is the scientific knowledge which we thus gain of the origin and inner construction of the psychogenic neuroses" (Jung, 1918, p108; bold emphasis added).


[There is a mention of the free association method in the entry for unthought known.]



Free Recall: This is a memory research paradigm in which stimulus items can be recalled in any order (as, for example, in the Brown-Peterson technique). (Those interested in studying free recall will find some useful standardised data on 925 English nouns in Rubin and Friendly, 1986.)



Free Will: [See firstly volition.] The notion of free will is relevant to both mental philosophy (does the thing in fact exist, and if so how does it work) and ethics (what should we be allowed to do with it if we decide we have it), but we shall here concern ourselves solely with the former, where it stands as the polar opposite to Determinism on the dimension of how much we are free to control our own behaviour. Classical interest in the topic can be traced to the Greeks. In the Republic dialogue, for example, Plato makes it very clear how easy it is for the trappings of power and self-interest to corrupt the path of purity and reason [which is why he lists desire (s) as one third of his soul, tripartite, and (b) as one of the two horses available to the "charioteer of the soul"]. We see much the same message in the standard Christian teaching that it is everyone's individual choice not to sin, thus (a long passage, heavily abridged) .....


"There are those who use the name 'destiny' to refer [.....] to the connected series of causes which is responsible for anything that happens [..... ascribing] this orderly series, this chain of causes, to the will and power of the supreme God [..... Unfortunately, i]f we choose foreknowledge, free will is annihilated ....." (St. Augustine, City of God, V.8-9; Bettenson translation, pp188-191).


Little then changed for more than a thousand years, and even when fresh minds did eventually come to look at the problem they were unable to shake off the straightjacket of religious orthodoxy. Descartes, for example, found it "so evident that we are possessed of a free will [.....], that this may be counted as one of the first and most ordinary notions that are found innately in us" (Descartes, Principles of Philosophy, ¶1; Haldane and Ross translation, p291), whilst for Leibniz "[God]  determines our will to choose what appears to be best, yet without necessitating it" (Leibniz, 1686, Discourse on Metaphysics; Woolhouse and Francks translation, p81). It remained for Kant, a century further down the line, to expose the real complication, namely that we had seriously underestimated how easy it was going to be to explain the sort of reasoning mind required for the exercise of free will. The pivotal concept for Kant was the "transcendental idea of freedom", as now defined .....


"Extremely noteworthy is the fact that the transcendental idea of freedom is the basis of the practical concept of freedom [.....]. Freedom in the practical meaning of the term is the independence of our power of choice from coercion by impulses of sensibility [giving us] a causality whereby we can begin a series of events entirely on our own" (Kant, 1787; Pluhar translation, p536).


After Kant, things started to hot up. In quick succession (and more or less coextensively with the lifetime of the Duke of Wellington, 1769-1852) Leibniz had (in a posthumous publication) raised the spectre of the unconscious mind (1765), Galvani had demonstrated the electrical nature of the electrical impulse (1791), the physicist Volta had devised the electrical circuit and the notion of electrical potential (1800), Herbart had come up with the notion of the threshold of consciousness (1816), Ørsted had devised a method of detecting a passing current using only its induced electromagnetic field (1820), an idea which Ampère immediately borrowed to develop the notion of electrical current (1820), Ohm had studied the phenomena of electrical resistance (1827), and Lordat had noted the sequence of processing involved in speech production (1843). By 1850, therefore, we had in place the basics of the modern conceptualisation of the mind as a hierarchical modular control system, grounded in our neuroanatomy and powered somehow by electricity. By the 1870s, indeed, it was time to update the textbooks, and two of the offerings from that period - those of Meynert in Germany and John Hughlings Jackson in Britain - may be regarded as wholly pivotal.


ASIDE: Readers wishing to gain a better appreciation of neuroscience as history, may care to peruse our Neuropsychology Timeline. Much of James' and Wundt's inspiration came from Meynert via Kussmaul, whilst the "Jacksonian model" inspires British cognitive neuropsychology to the present day.


But what, you might ask, is the relevance of a hierarchically modular cognitive architecture to the notion of free will? Well the answer lies in the principle that you can only have one conductor in an orchestra, because only one of the proposed modules can be allowed a will to exert.


ASIDE: For the purpose of the present entry alone, we present the above assertion as fact, although elsewhere we treat it as mere presumption. The idea of a will-module of some sort is certainly consistent with the data from split-brain studies [see the entry for consciousness, Gazzaniga's theory of], but equally there are many who reject the notion of neat modularity as overly simplistic.


There is also the problem posed by the unconscious, as characterised by Freud and Breuer's (1895) monograph on hysteria. Freud and Breuer took Leibniz's earlier suggestion of unconscious perception, and added in a welter of unconscious semantics and motivation as well, thus setting the scene for the emergence of psychodynamic theory during the first half of the 20th century. The picture they painted of an inner welter of emotionally charged content, clamouring to be heard but only if suitably camouflaged, still colours our everyday conceptualisation of free will. Indeed, one common modern view of free will is that it is at least in part just a "post-hoc rationaliser", a system which has no editorial control over what our deeper motivations have us do, but which can then explain the resulting behaviours away. It is a mechanism which thinks it is in charge, but is not. [For Fromm's particular contribution to this topic, see free will, Fromm's theory of, and for Ryle's see free will, Ryle's theory of.]



Free Will, Fromm's Theory of: [See firstly free will.] The Freudian tradition of psychoanalysis sees the mind as a slave more or less totally to its underlying biology. By contrast, Fromm (1941/1965) saw personal freedom as able to rise from and above the biology, thus defying the forces of determinism. Unfortunately, to many people the resulting freedom is itself a stressful state, so they typically put a lot of effort into trying to escape from it (it was no coincidence, for example, that ancient societies ended up doing much of your decision making for you). There are then several popular "mechanisms of escape" (p139) from the stress of being free, including conformity and submission to authority, even when this exposes you to the darker side of the human psyche. He identifies three factors as being particularly worthy of our attention, as follows .....


(1) Authoritarianism: This is "the tendency to give up the independence of one's own individual self and to fuse one's self with somebody or something outside of oneself in order to acquire the strength which the individual self is lacking" (p140). He coined the phrase "dynamic adaptation" (p14) to describe how repressed hostility - frequently directed originally against the father - becomes part of an individual's make-up, and he saw the same process at work in destructive or sadistic groups. New drives can emerge which fuel either masochism - a tendency to belittle oneself and make oneself weak - or sadism - a tendency to seek power over others and inflict mental and/or physical pain upon them. "Man's brain," he warns, "lives in the twentieth century; the heart of most men lives still in the Stone Age. The majority of men have not yet acquired the maturity to be independent, to be rational, to be objective" (foreword to the 1965 edition, xvi).


(2) Destructiveness: This, too, is rooted in feelings of individual powerlessness and isolation, but extends beyond achieving power over others to eliminating them altogether. This creates a state of "splendid isolation" (p177) in which the threatening forces can no longer threaten. Fromm warns us not to underestimate the destructiveness of humankind, and notes how many justifications people can find to carry out destructive acts, justifications such as love, duty, conscience, and patriotism.


(3) "Automaton Conformity": This is when "the individual ceases to be himself [and] adopts entirely the kind of personality offered to him by cultural patterns" (p184). It is the most common escape mechanism chosen in modern society, and its success depends upon the ability it gives to the fearful self to be identical with "millions of other automatons around him" (p184). The ploy works, but at a high price, namely the loss of self. Fromm sees this as the suppression of the powers of critical thinking because this is the faculty which best detects painful/stressful contradictions in the outside world.


More positively, Fromm also had a vision of how the character might be strengthened, a task in which educators must be expected to play a large part. Both helplessness and doubt paralyse life, he writes, and the cure is self-realisation, that is to say, "the active expression of his emotional and intellectual potentialities" (p257). We possess these potentialities but "they become real only to the extent to which they are expressed". Behaviour, for Fromm, must be spontaneous, a quality which is easily in children when they say and think "that which is really theirs", but which is lost somewhere during adolescence. Thus .....


"In all spontaneous activity the individual embraces the world. Not only does this individual self remain intact; it becomes stronger and more solidified. For the self is as strong as it is active. [.....] The inability to act spontaneously, to express what one genuinely feels and thinks, and the resulting necessity to present a pseudo self to others and oneself, are the root of the feeling of inferiority and weakness. Whether or not we are aware of it, there is nothing of which we are more ashamed than of not being ourselves, and there is nothing that gives us greater pride and happiness than to think, to feel, and to say what is ours." (pp260-261.)



Free Will, Ryle's Theory of: [See firstly free will.] The notion of "the Freedom of the Will" was described by Gilbert Ryle (as part of his sustained attack on Descartes' myth) as a "tangle of spurious problems" (Ryle, 1949, p69). Indeed, he compared the value of the term volition to philosophy to that of phlogiston to chemistry, for the simple reason that we do not know "how to use it" properly! Volition is, he claims, "an artificial concept" (p61), for which he blames Hamilton's triad, that is to say, the notion that the mind-soul has three distinct parts to it, namely thought, feeling, and will. The will, thus conceived, automatically requires an "I" to do the willing, and so is "an inevitable extension of the myth of the ghost in the machine" (p62). He challenges his doubters to describe the volitions of which they are so fond in more detail, thus .....


"Can they be sudden or gradual, strong or weak, difficult or easy, enjoyable or disagreeable? Can they be accelerated, decelerated, interrupted, or suspended? [Etc.] Champions of the doctrine maintain, of course, that the enactment of volitions is asserted by implication, whenever an overt act is described as intentional, voluntary, culpable, or meritorious [..... but when] asked how long ago he executed his last volition, or how many acts of will he executes in, say, reciting 'Little Miss Muffet' backwards, he is apt to confess to [not knowing]" (p63; we recommend the backwards reciting task as a surprisingly powerful thought experiment).



Frege, Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob: [German philosopher and mathematician (1848-1925).] [Click for external biography] Frege joined the lecturing staff at the University of Jena in the mid-1870s, moving gradually from mathematics into the realms of logic. He is famous for having developed the Begriffsschrift (Frege, 1879), a set of fundamental logical axioms complete with a supporting shorthand which has been the basis of modern formal logic ever since. Here is Klement (2006 online) on this .....


"Frege concurred with Leibniz that natural language was unsuited to [mathematical thinking]. Thus Frege sought to create a language [.....] in which logical relations and possible inferences would be clear and unambiguous. Frege's own term for such a language, 'Begriffsschrift', was likely borrowed from a paper on Leibniz's ideas written by Adolf Trendelenburg. Although there had been attempts to fashion at least the core of such a language made by Boole and others [..... Frege found these] to be imprecise and antiquated" (Klement, 2006 online, ¶2) [click here to be transferred to Klement's introduction to the further technicalities of Frege's Begriffsschrift].


With the Begriffsschrift in place, Frege moved next into the mental philosophy by which both mathematics and logic were enabled in the first place. He laid out his conclusions in works such as Funktion and Begriff ("Function and Concept") (Frege, 1891), Űber Sinn und Bedeutung ("On Sense and Reference") (Frege, 1892), and Űber Begriff und Gegenstand ("On Concept and Object") (Frege, 1892), and is now acclaimed for coining the notions of sense and reference, and for building a workable "theory of meaning" around them.



Freier Einfall: [German frei = "free, independent" + Einfall = (in one of several usages) "sudden idea, brainwave, fancy, notion" (C.G.D.).] See free association.



Freud, Anna: [Austrian child psychoanalyst (1895-1982).] [Click for external biography] Anna Freud is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for her general support for Freudian theory, but more specifically for her work on defense mechanisms.



Freud, Dreams and: Freud's "The Interpretation of Dreams" (Freud, 1900/1953) was one of his first major works as a psychoanalyst. It is a long book [our paperback copy runs to 783 pages of primary content], and is crammed with vivid examples of how Freud believed the unconscious elements of the mind were capable of expressing themselves indirectly whenever the conscious mind let its defensive guard down in sleep or under hypnosis. The book begins with a substantial review of the literature on the interpretation of dreams, and a discussion of the key theoretical issues. Here are some of the points raised .....


  • Are dreams true mental acts or mere physical processes? (p169)


  • Is their content "symbolic"? (p170)


  • If it is symbolic, how may it be interpreted? What is the "'decoding' method" (p171) to be?


  • What is the role of "involuntary ideas" in all this? How do they generate the "visual and acoustic images" (p176) which make up the dream/


 Freud's basic position on all these issues is clear. Having analysed one of his own dreams [night of 23rd-24th July 1895], he wrote .....


"When the work of interpretation has been completed, we perceive that a dream is the fulfilment of a wish" (pp198-199).



Freud, Sigmund: [Austrian neurologist and class-defining psychoanalytic psychotherapist (1856-1939 [reputedly by physician-assisted suicide]).] [Click for external biography] Freud is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary on two counts, firstly as neurologist [see, for example, Freud (1891)], and secondly as psychoanalyst [see all entries beginning Freud .....].



Freudian Mental Architecture, the: See indents (1) and (2) in the entry for Freudian theory.



Freudian Theory: The basic essence of "Freudism" [or "Freudianism"] consists of four linked theoretical assertions, namely (a) that the mind has both unconscious and conscious domains, with only a fraction of what goes on in the former being available to the latter [for the pre-Freudian background to this assertion, see unconsciousness, the], (b) that much of what we do is driven by instinctive forces arising in the unconscious domain, (c) that the activation of these forces inherently brings either pleasure or unpleasure, and (d) that the unpleasant forces are so unpleasant that the conscious mind develops strategies - known as "defense mechanisms" - either to hold them safely at bay, or else to allow them some form of vicarious indirect expression [as to why this should be necessary, see the separate entry for unpleasure, why it has to be so unpleasant.] These four basic assertions then operate in a processing environment which is traditionally divided up according to two distinct but simultaneously valid sets of considerations, namely "cognitive structure" and "mental topography", as follows .....


(1) The Structural Divisions of the Mind: The most fundamental structural component of the mind is our instinctive being. Freud called this the "id" [Latin = "it"], and regarded it as representing the animal within us. The id is the only system active at birth, and is responsible (along with an array of brainstem and spinal reflexes) for keeping us alive. It is capable only of what Freud called "primary process thinking", that is to say, unplanned and unstrategised thinking, motivated by some immediate outcome on the pleasure-unpleasure continuum. At birth, for example, the id knows only what its infant body is telling it at a particular moment in time (whether it is hungry, say, or too hot or too cold, or in pain, etc.), and it responds to said input in a primitive instinctual way, by crying, or by sucking, or by eliminating waste, or by whatever else our biological hard-wiring has predetermined as appropriate. Gradually, however, our brains and minds become more mature, and our particular individuality - our "ego" - starts to develop. Where the id had all along been providing the mind's emotional and appetitive component, the ego now starts to provide it with its "cognitive" component [compare the Platonic notion of soul, tripartite]. The ego does this by creating and manipulating a storehouse of mental concepts in the interests of "reality testing", and its relative success at this task depends on how accurately the mental (or "internal") "objects" reflect the properties of the physical (or "external") objects they are representing [compare what cognitive science has to say about mental models in general]. Note that as cognitive structures [that is to say, as components of a functional architecture rather than a physical one], neither the id nor the ego maps down onto a simple brain location in which they might be said to reside. A third structure, the "superego", is introduced in a page or so.


(2) The Topographic Divisions of the Mind: Freud also broke the mind down into spatially distinct functional zones, the same way a building has different rooms or a landscape has different geographical regions. He had arrived at this belief in his early theorising about the stages of aesthesis, and in Freud (1896) he identified five stages of perception, with sensory information being passed from one stage to the next, starting with the most consciously inaccessible and culminating in full conscious awareness. These were, in ascending order, Wahrnehmungen (or perceptions), Wahrnehmungszeichen (or indications of perception), Unbewusstsein (or unconsciousness), Vorbewusstsein (or preconsciousness), and Bewusstsein (or consciousness). 


ASIDE: Freud introduced the term "topographical" [= "concerning the describing of locations"] in his book The Interpretation of Dreams (Freud, 1900/1958), describing it as "the schematic picture of the Ψ-systems" (p699) [we explain what Ψ-systems are in the entry for Freud's Project]. Anticipating modern stage-processing multi-modular theories of perception by nigh on a century, he was explicitly asking us to regard the "mental apparatus" as "a compound instrument" with the five component "systems" of aesthesis "in a regular spatial relation to one another" (p685). 


Now as we have explained elsewhere [see aggression, psychodynamic theory and], Freud insisted in his early writings that there was only one instinctive force. He called this the "libido", and he saw it as being made up of a number of lesser "life instincts", the most important of which is the sex drive (which is why one regularly sees the term "psychosexual development" used to indicate the totality of child development). Later, however, he came to recognise a set of "death instincts", operating alongside the life instincts and powering the destructive side of human behaviour. Here is how Freud explained the interplay of the two sets of forces in 1923 .....


"Recognition of Two Classes of Instincts in Mental Life: Though psychoanalysis endeavours as a rule to develop its theories as independently as possible from those of other sciences, it is nevertheless obliged to seek a basis for the theory of the instincts in biology. [Having considered] the processes which go to make up life and which lead to death, it becomes probable that we should recognise the existence of two classes of instincts, corresponding to the contrary processes of construction and dissolution in the organism. On this view, the one set of instincts, which work essentially in silence, would be those which follow the aim of leading the living creature to death and therefore deserve to be called the 'death instincts'; these would be directed outwards [.....] and would manifest themselves as destructive or aggressive impulses. The other set of instincts would be those which are better known to us in analysis - the libidinal, sexual, or life instincts, which are best comprised under the name of Eros; their purpose would be to form living substance into ever greater unities, so that life may be prolonged and brought to higher development. The erotic instincts and the death instincts would be present in living beings in regular mixtures [and] life would consist in the manifestation of the conflict or interaction between the two classes of instinct; death would mean for the individual the victory of the destructive instincts, but reproduction would mean for him the victory of Eros. [.....] This view would enable us to characterise instincts as tendencies inherent in living substance towards restoring an earlier state of things" (Freud, Libido Theory, 1923/1955, [Standard Edition (Vol. 18)], p258; bold emphasis added).


When Freud eventually brought these various theoretical building blocks together, he found that they could support both (a) an integrated theory of normal and abnormal psychosexual development, and (b) an associated clinical practicum by which the abnormalities - the "neuroses" - might be at least partly mitigated. The theory is known as "psychoanalytic theory", and the clinical practice is known as "psychoanalysis".


ASIDE: Readers will encounter both one- and two-word hyphenated versions of the term "psychoanalysis". Google currently [June 2007] returns around 12 times as many hits for the former as the latter, and so this glossary follows that precedent. For exhaustive searches it may nevertheless be wise to keyword both forms.


As for psychosexual development, Freud saw this as a logical progression through a series of stages common to all humankind, each stage being given a particular shape and flavour by the particular libidinal subsystem predominating at the age in question. He identified five such stages in all, as follows .....


(1) The Oral Stage: The "oral stage" lasts from birth to about one year of age, during which period sensations of taste and oral exploration are presumed to dominate the infant's experiences. This is not to say that vision and hearing are not important, but rather that they exist to support the functioning of the ego, not that of the id. Thus while the ego is busily conceptualising the world as internal objects, the id is working to the rules of orality in coding the resulting semantic content on the approach-avoidance dimension. As explained in Freud's Project, Freud believed that a biologically fundamental process known as "cathexis" was responsible for "attaching" - or "cathecting" - instinctive energy to learned conceptual memories.


TEST YOURSELF NOW: The following personality traits are often cited as in some way "oral". Do they describe you, perhaps? Being overweight; Acquiring non-food possessions (including knowledge and money); Being more than normally determined or stubborn; Using "biting" wit or sarcasm; Sulking.


(2) The Anal Stage: The oral stage is then followed by the "anal stage" of development, lasting from one to three years of age, during which period sensations of bladder and rectal distension and release dominate the infant's experience. Freud made much of the child's involvement at this stage in "potty training", seeing this set of experiences as an opportunity for the child either to cooperate with (and please) its mother, or not. The anal stage is thus when the child begins to understand that it has a will of its own, and that its actions have predictable social consequences to go with the physical consequences it already knew about [for the cognitive and philosophical issues here, start with the entry for agency and follow the onward links].


TEST YOURSELF NOW: The following personality traits are often cited as in some way "anal". Do they describe you, perhaps? Frugality and miserliness; Neatness AND messiness; Creativity.


(3) The Phallic Stage: The anal stage shades in due course into the "phallic stage", from three to five years of age, during which period sensations of genital sensitivity dominate the child's experience, and [genitally derived?] feelings of attraction - which we like to call "love" - start to emerge. And because most cultures have extremely strict rules controlling the expression of interpersonal attraction, things suddenly start to become heated. To start with, as the id starts making its disallowed demands for adult attention, it starts to attract explicit censure from those very adults, especially where expressions of penile excitement are directed at the mother or expressions of clitoral excitement at the father. This exposes for the first time a serious failing on the part of the ego, namely that the definition of reality it has built into its system of internal objects (the child's conceptualised parents) suddenly no longer matches the reality being imposed by those external objects (the child's physical parents). Up until now the child has probably known only minor disciplinary action from its carers, because it had never before wished for anything of particularly high value. Now, however, it gets baulked forcefully and consistently in perhaps the highest-value wish it has ever had. So with the id wanting what it cannot have, and the ego equipped neither to deliver what the id wants nor to protect itself from the emotional turmoil of failing to do so, a crisis point arrives at which the child's feelings for the opposite sex parent become ever more firmly blocked by the same sex parent, leading to feelings of intense hostility towards them. This sudden affective turmoil is called the "Oedipus complex" in boys, and the "Electra complex" in girls, and it can only be properly resolved if something can hoodwink both ego and id into believing that they have won when in fact they have lost. The solution lies in the process of "identification", the ability to take parts of other persons' personalities as your own. Boys thus identify with their fathers and girls with their mother, and this identification brings with it a vicarious satisfaction of the id's need to possess the other parent. The process also creates the third of our mind structures, namely the "superego", a derivative of the internalised adult whose inner voice henceforth acts as our conscience. It is possible that boys, during the confrontation with their father, will develop "castration anxiety", whilst girls, when they eventually discover that they lack a penis (a discovery they are presumed to find traumatic), will develop "penis envy".


ASIDE: Freud is regularly (and vigorously) accused of overplaying the issue of a genuinely "sexual" component to early child-parent attachment. He quite explicitly believed that children wanted adult-style sexual relations with their opposite-sex parent, in direct contravention of cultural prohibitions and regardless of their actual physical immaturity. Others [e.g., Jung (1906)] proposed merely that the child sought only exclusivity of access to that parent's time and attentiveness; genitality - even in scaled down form - was neither necessary nor sufficient. Had Freud survived to witness Harlow's (1958/2007 online) demonstration of an instinct just for physical contact-comfort in non-human primates, he might have softened his line a bit. For our own part, we suspect some form of cognitive triggering condition for the Oedipus complex [readers are reminded that in the Piagetian theory of cognitive development the child is currently at the stage of pre-operational thought]. Specifically, the child, through play and sustained observation, gradually acquires enough of a concept of pair-bonding to want to possess an emotional partner of its own; and it picks, naturally enough, on the one who has been closest until then. There is no "sexual urge" as such in this attraction, just a heavily emotionally invested model of a potentially ideal relationship. 


(4) The Latency Stage: The phallic stage is then followed by a "latency stage", from five years to puberty, during which period nothing further of interest seems to happen and the earlier structures have an opportunity to consolidate.


(5) The Genital Stage: The latency stage is then followed by the "genital stage", from puberty and through adolescence, during which period genital sexuality is now accompanied by the physical changes of early adulthood which allow full physical expression to the capacity for possessive love which emerged in the phallic stage.


Now the point about the stages described above is that the shape and flavour of a given type of libidinal cathexis tends to endure beyond the stage in which it was first established. This becomes important when the conflicts inherent to that stage or a later one are poorly resolved. When this happens, an individual can "fixate" at (or "regress" to, if already past it) the stage in question, and thereafter work to a basis of cathexis which becomes progressively out of date with respect to chronological age. It is perfectly possible, for example, to have an "orally fixated" old-age pensioner, say, in whom the rewarding powers of oral stimulation have persisted (for whatever reason) all the way down from infancy. Perhaps the best known of all the "fixations" of this sort is the "anally retentive" person. Freud thought he recognised a deeply ingrained "anal character" in adults who collected things (including other human things) in later life, seeing in such habitual behaviours a residue of the wilful withholding of excreta during potty training; that is to say, of over-using the newly acquired sense of control as a weapon against its parents.


WHERE TO NEXT: Readers seeking more than the above introductory sketch will have to put it together from a number of separated entries, as follows .....


hysteria [exemplified by case, Anna O and case, Elisabeth von R.


Freud's diagrams and illustrations


Freud's Project and unconscious, the 


Freud, dreams and 


The Oedipus complex [exemplified by case, Little Hans and resolved by the processes of identification]


Defense mechanisms



Freud's Diagrams and Illustrations: [See firstly Freud, English versions of.] Freud was not a prolific diagram-drawer, but on several of the occasions that he resorted to them they have distinct historical significance. Here is a list of his graphical output, (a) within the 1891 monograph On Aphasia, and (b) within the 24 [!] volumes of the Standard Edition (SE) of his works …..


On Aphasia (1891/1992 [German]): [This monograph was reportedly withheld from the SE at Freud's personal instruction.] The following diagrams are in our 1992 Vogel edition of Zur Auffassung der Aphasien (Freud, 1891/1992) …..


pp42-43 The Wernicke (1874) Diagram: On p42 (labeled Figure 1) and p43 (labeled Figure 2), there are two diagrams setting out Wernicke's (1874) view on Der Aphasische Symptomencomplex [= "The Aphasic Syndrome"]. Figure 1 is a simple three-arrow flow diagram showing the logic of Leitungsaphasie [conduction aphasia]. Figure 2 is the same, but superimposed over a lateral aspect anatomic sketch of the cerebrum and brainstem. This latter is an historically important early diagram, and we have ourselves already reproduced it online, with supporting notes, in Wernicke (1874).


p45 The Lichtheim (1885) Diagram: On p45 (labeled Figure 3) there is a reproduction of Lichtheim's (1885) Schema des Sprachapparates [= "Schema of the Speech Apparatus"]. Often referred to as "Lichtheim's House", this is another historically important early diagram, and we have ourselves already reproduced it online, with supporting notes, in Lichtheim (1885).


p47 (labeled Figure 4) is a variant of p45, enhanced with what would today be called a visual input lexicon and an orthographic output lexicon. p63 (labeled Figure 5) is an anatomical diagram referred to from the text.


p75 The Grashey Diagram: Labeled Figure 6, this is a reproduction of Grashey's (1885) circle-and-arrow flow diagram of the brain's language areas. This is another historically important early diagram, and we have ourselves already reproduced it online, with supporting notes, in Grashey (1885).


p87 The Wernicke (1881) Diagram: Labeled Figure 7, this is a reproduction from Wernicke's (1881) Lehrbuch der Gehirnkrankheiten [= "Textbook of Brain Diseases"]. It is basically the same as p43 above, but with more detailed identification of the brain areas under discussion.


p121 Freud's Word Complex Diagram: Labeled Figure 8, this is Freud's own synthesis and interpretation of the foregoing diagrams and the available case literature. It is a very important early diagram in the aphasiology literature, and we have ourselves already reproduced it online, with supporting notes, in Freud (1891).


p126 Freud's Cortical Fields Diagram: Labeled Figure 9, this is Freud's own suggested explanation for the association of ideas between the various separate modules of the p121 diagram. It depicts the outward radiation of Rindenfelder [= "cortical fields"] from the separate modules, which, where they intersect, interact to set up a Zentrum [= "centre"] for the storage of the associational links between the otherwise separate types of information.


p138 Wernicke's (1886) "Schema of Disturbances of Reading": Labeled Figure 10, this is a reproduction of Wernicke's (1886) Schema der Lesestörungen [= "Schema of Reading Disturbances"].


Standard Edition, Volume 1 (1886-1899/1966): Volume 1 of the SE was first published as such in 1966, and contains a number of small early papers, followed by Extracts from the Fliess Papers (1892-1899) and Project for a Scientific Psychology (1895). It also includes the editorial team's General Preface to the SE as a whole. It does not include Freud and Breuer’s (1893-1895) writings on hysteria, since these had already been dealt with separately in Volume 2 [see below], nor his early writings on psychoanalysis, which are in Volume 3 [see below]. The Fliess Papers contain diagrams as follows .....


p202 [Draft G, headed “Melancholia”, possibly 7th January 1895]: This sketch, under the title "Schematic Picture of Sexuality" (and labeled as Figure 1), is part force field diagram, part neuropsychological flow diagram, and shows how a number of factors act in concert to modulate the state of excitement of a "psychical group" of sexually charged memory units.


p205 (upper and lower) [ditto]: These two sketches, not explicitly titled (but labeled as Figures 2 and 3), are referred to in the accompanying discussion as showing how neurons close to said psychical group lose excitation into that group, thereby producing the experience of pain which can motivate a consequent psychopathology.


p211 [Draft H, headed "Paranoia", 24th January 1895]: This is a "Summary Table" (labeled as Figure 4) comparing ego defenses for hysteria, obsessionality, hallucinatory confusion, paranoia, and hysterical psychosis.


p229 [Letter 46, 30th May 1896]: This is a table (labeled as Figure 5) showing six developmental ages, or “periods of life” or "epochs" (p229), namely Ia, Preconscious (up to 4 years), Ib, Infantile (4 to 8 years), Transitional “A” (8 to 10 years), II, Prepubertal (11 to 13 years), Transitional “B” (13 to 17 years), and III, Mature (18 years and over).


p230 [ditto]: Using the headings introduced on p229, this is a continuation table (labeled Figure 6) which indicates how sexual "scenes" and repression cross-relate differently to hysteria, obsessional neurosis, and paranoia.


p234 [Letter 52, 6th December 1896]: This is another "Schematic Picture" (labeled Figure 7), this time of the successive "registrations" of input during the end-to-end process of perception. This is another historically important early diagram, and we have ourselves already reproduced it online, with supporting notes, in Freud (1896).


p236 [ditto]: This is a table (labeled Figure 8) showing the four non-transitional developmental epochs introduced on p229 cross-map differently onto the psychical and sexual phases of development, although the only point being made is that epochs Ia and Ib are separate psychologically but merged sexually.


p237 [ditto]: This is a table (labeled Figure 9) which takes the successive registrations of perceptual input introduced on p234 and cross-relates them to hysteria, obsessional neurosis, paranoia, and perversion.


p241 [Letter 55, 11th January 1897]: This is a sketched family tree (labeled as Figure 10) of the "degeneracy" in "one of my male hysterical patients" (p240). It is historically important to the extent that it includes an early differentiation of the aetiologies of a neurosis and a psychosis.


p251 [Draft M, 25th May 1897]: This sketch, under the title "The Architecture of Hysteria" (labeled as Figure 11), depicts four stratifications of consciousness, numbered I (most superficial) to IV (most deep), and shows how different grades of repression are supported by each, resulting in different clinical pictures.


ASIDE - Masson (1985): When dealing with the Fliess correspondence, the Masson edition (Masson, 1985) is the more complete record. This contains the following variations of, and editorial omissions from, the SE  …..


p100 - as SE p202 above, but depicting the end organ as T (for terminal organ) [Freud himself used E in his sketches, so go with the SE on this]. p102 (left and right) - as SE p205 (upper and lower), again depicting the end organ as T.


p103/4 [not in SE]: This two-sided photographically reproduced sketch, in its native German under the title Normalschema, was enclosed with Draft G [see SE p202 above] and is therefore provisionally dated 7th January 1895. Masson suggests that it was excluded from the SE because it was "too difficult to understand" (p105), but at first sight it is similar enough to the p100 diagram, only with different annotation. We cannot trace a formally published translation.


p111 - as SE p211 above. p187 - as SE p229 above. p188 - as SE p230 above. p207 - as SE p234 above. p210 (upper) - as SE p236 above. p210 (lower) - as SE p237 above.


p211 [Letter 52, 6th December 1896; not in SE]: This table supports a textual argument in which Freud attempts to correlate "the derivation of the different epochs" (p210) to multiples of 23-day cycles of physiological state in males and 28-day cycles in females.


p222 - as SE p241 above. p247 - as SE p251 above.


Unnumbered insert between p266 and p267 [Letter 69, 21st September 1897; not in SE]: This is a photographic reproduction of this eight-page letter (complete with envelope face and verso).


The Project contains two graphs of little significance on p313 (both labeled as Figure 12), and a schematic explanation (labeled Figure 16) on p354, which we have already reproduced in case, Emma. It also contains three primitive nerve net sketches (respectively, Figures 13, 14, and 15) on p314, p324, and p341, which are well worth a look, because they are not dissimilar to those subsequently popularised in Hebb's (1949) description of the cell assembly.


Standard Edition, Volume 2 1893-1895/1955: Volume 2 of the SE was first published as such in 1955, and contains Studies on Hysteria (Freud and Breuer, 1893-1895). This work included detailed patient histories for case, Emmy von N., case, Lucy R., case, Katharina, and case, Elisabeth von R. It contains neither diagrams nor illustrations.


Standard Edition, Volume 3 (1893-1899): ENTRY TO FOLLOW.


Standard Edition, Volume 4 (1900): ENTRY TO FOLLOW.


Standard Edition, Volume 5 (1900-1901): ENTRY TO FOLLOW.


Standard Edition, Volume 6 (1901): ENTRY TO FOLLOW.


Standard Edition, Volume 7 (1901-1905/1953): This volume contains Fragments of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905) [this being the primary report of case, Dora], Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) [this being the primary source for such eminently "Freudian" notions as infantile sexuality and penis envy, as well as for his early views on perversions and inversions [i.e., homosexuality], On Psychotherapy (1905), and a number of lesser writings. It contains neither diagrams nor illustrations.


Standard Edition, Volume 8 (1905): ENTRY TO FOLLOW.


Standard Edition, Volume 9 (1906-1908):  ENTRY TO FOLLOW.


Standard Edition, Volume 10 (1909/1955): This volume contains Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy (1909) [this being the primary report of case, Little Hans] and Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis (1909) [the primary report of case, Rat Man]. The Little Hans account contains the following diagrams …..


p13 (labeled as Figure 1) is a sketch by Hans' father of a giraffe, on which the youngster had insisted that the animal's Wiwimacher [literally, "wee-wee-maker", hence translated into informal English as "widdler"] be added, p46 and p48 (labeled Figures 2 and 3, respectively) are maps supporting the text, and p49 (labeled as Figure 4) is a sketch by Hans' father of a horse's head, complete with heavy mouth harness, one of Hans' particular phobias.


Standard Edition, Volume 11 (1910): ENTRY TO FOLLOW.


Standard Edition, Volume 12 (1911-1913/1958): This volume of the SE contains Psychoanalytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (1911), The Dynamics of Transference (1912), Dreams in Folklore (1911), and a number of lesser writings. It contains neither diagrams nor illustrations.


Standard Edition, Volume 13 (1913-1914): ENTRY TO FOLLOW.


Standard Edition, Volume 14 (1914-1916/1957): This volume contains On the History of the Psychoanalytic Movement (1914), On Narcissism: An Introduction (1914), Instincts and Their Vicissitudes (1915), The Unconscious (1915), Mourning and Melancholia (1917), and a number of lesser writings. Instincts and Their Vicissitudes has a diagram on p130 which is set out like a mathematical equation using words rather than numbers, and supports a textual explanation of the "scopophilic instinct". The Unconscious re-publishes (p214) the 1891 Word Complex diagram (the p121 diagram in On Aphasia, above).


Standard Edition, Volume 15 (1915-1916): ENTRY TO FOLLOW.


Standard Edition, Volume 16 (1916-1917): ENTRY TO FOLLOW.



Freud's Project:


"Let us picture the ego as a network of cathected neurons" (Freud, 1895, p323).


Freud's (1895/1966) Project for a Scientific Psychology [Entwurf einer Psychologie], was written before (and in many important respects inspired) the main body of his psychoanalytical theory. It presents Freud's early-career conclusions as to the structure and function of the nervous system, and was informed in this by his clinical experience using hypnosis and free association in cases of hysteria (as set out in Freud and Breuer, 1893-1895), as well as by his work with acquired language disorders such as aphasia (as set out in Freud, 1891). The Project uses abbreviations to identify its most important theoretical constructs, as follows .....


M      Motor Image. Freud uses this code to refer to the mental content capable of initiating a discrete piece of behaviour.


N       Neuron. [It was only in the 1880s that chemically-minded neurologists like Golgi had developed tissue staining techniques to the degree of sophistication needed to detect neural dendrites and synaptic "knobs" under the microscope. Freud was therefore one of the first to base a full theory of neuropsychology on the long-hypothesised, but at the time only recently observed, neuron.]


Q       Quantity of Neural Excitation. Freud uses this code to refer to the physiological processes - whatever they were -  which made neurons "excited" when stimulated, compared to what was going on while they remained "at rest". [Freud knew from the late 19th century physiological literature that neural tissue had a peculiar "tonic" quality - a resting level of excitement (much like muscle tone), which was free to increase or decrease within certain limits "without necessarily initiating transmitted impulses" (Pribram, 1969, p399). We know this as the "graded response" of excitable tissue rather than the all-or-nothing action potential, or "spike". Given what Freud suspected was going on in the minds of his hysteria patients, it was not difficult to attribute concealed and secret motivations to these background activations.]


    This is Q, as above, but now subscripted by the Greek letter eta (non-aspirated inflection) [we suggest reading it as "queue-eater", therefore, rather than "queue-heater"]. Freud used this term to refer to "quantity of the intercellular order of magnitude" (Strachey, 1966, in Freud, 1895/1966, p294), but the definition has to be accepted as vague because is further described [and Strachey was then the leading editorial scholar on Freud's work] as Q's "mysterious companion" (p289), in whose usage "Freud himself sometimes seems inconsistent" (ibid.).


Q'n   This is a font-simplified alternative to , sometimes seen in type-written (as opposed to word-processed) manuscripts. Comments as for .


V       Idea [see Vorstellung].


W      Perception [see Wahrnehmung].


Φ      This is the Greek letter phi, which, as the first letter of the word phusica, is a common abbreviation for words beginning "physio-". Freud uses it throughout the Project to indicate a physical system of "permeable neurons".


Ψ      This is the Greek letter psi, which, as the first letter of the word psuche, is a common abbreviation for words beginning "psycho-". Freud uses it throughout the Project to indicate a system of "impermeable neurons", because he conceived of this system as being the seat of the ego.


ω       This is the Greek letter omega (lower case). Freud uses it throughout the Project to indicate a particular subsystem of the Ψ system which supports consciousness. 


The Project recognises three distinct systems of neural organisation, based partly upon anatomical considerations and partly on the "permeability" of the neurons involved, that is to say, how readily they transmit excitation rather than store it as a change in graded potential. The first of these systems, the "spinal projection system", is a permeable tissue system, and consists anatomically of the spinal tracts. The second system, the "nuclear system", is far less permeable, presumably because it exists to keep hold of information brought to it. It consists anatomically of the nuclei and ganglia of the brainstem and cerebrum, and its function is to cathect the mental content which at that moment in time most demands cathecting [more on what this involves below]. The third system is needed to make sense out of the information available to the other two, especially where this information relates to the "qualities" of ongoing sensation. Based in the cerebral cortex, or "pallium", it is called the "cortical system".


ASIDE: Readers unfamiliar with basic spinal cord neuroanatomy may care to glance at the diagrams in the companion resource "The Pyramidal and Extrapyramidal Motor Systems" before proceeding. Fancher (1976/2007 online) reminds us that Freud had not long earlier been a student both of Ernst Brücke and Theodor Meynert. From Brücke he seems to have acquired the microanatomical notions of neural excitation, and from Meynert he seems to have acquired the macroanatomical model of nervous system organisation.


Against this basic framework, Freud then put a number of extremely fundamental propositions across. The first of these dealt with the notions of Q and, the main assertion being that neurons which become active by receiving a quantity of excitation Q immediately do their best to "divest themselves" (p296) of it, in a self-correcting process akin to that we know nowadays as homeostasis. Thus .....


"A primary nervous system makes use of this which it has thus acquired, by giving it off through a connecting path to the muscular mechanisms, and in that way keeps itself free from stimulus. This discharge represents the primary function of the nervous system" (Freud, 1895/1966, Project for a Scientific Psychology [Standard Edition (Volume 1)], p296).


ASIDE: This self-correcting pattern of functioning was particularly noticeable, Freud argued, with "endogenous" stimulation, that is to say, stimulation which derives from sensory systems directed internally, within our own bodies. He observed that where sensations pertained to a physiological state such as hunger, they were invariably calling for behaviour of some sort. Such excitation-reducing behaviours are called "primary functions" or "secondary functions", depending on how directly the behaviour is linked to the triggering condition.


The second fundamental proposition had to do with how neurons of different types related to each other when necessary, and avoided doing so the rest of the time. The argument runs as follows .....


"The Neuron Theory: The idea of combining with this theory the knowledge of the neurons arrived at by recent histology is the second pillar of this thesis. The main substance of these new discoveries is that the nervous system consists of distinct and similarly constructed neurons, which have contact with one another through the medium of a foreign substance, which terminate upon one another as they do upon portions of foreign tissue, [and] in which certain lines of conduction are laid down [.....]. They have in addition numerous ramifications of varying calibre. If we combine this account of the neurons with the conception of the theory, we arrive at the idea of a cathected neuron filled with a certain while at other times it may be empty. The principle of inertia finds its expression in the hypothesis of a current passing from the cell's paths of conduction or processes to the axis-cylinder. A single neuron is thus a model of the whole nervous system" (op.cit., pp297-298; emphasis added).


Freud went on to discuss the mechanism by which one neuron transmitted its excitation to another "through the medium of the foreign substance" mentioned above. He called this mechanism the contact-barrier" [Contactschranke] - what we know today as the synapse. Here is how he introduces (a) the construct, and (b) its implications for biological theories of memory ..... 


"The Contact-Barriers: The first justification for this hypothesis arises from the consideration that there the path of conduction passes through undifferentiated protoplasm instead of (as it otherwise does, within the neuron) through differentiated protoplasm, which is probably better adapted for conduction. This gives us a hint that conductive capacity is to be linked with differentiation [.....]. Furthermore, the theory of contact-barriers can be turned to advantage as follows. A main characteristic of nervous tissue is memory: that is, quite generally, a capacity for being permanently altered by single occurrences. [.....] The theory of contact-barriers, if it adopts this solution, can express it in the following terms. There are two classes of neurons: those which allow to pass through as though they had no contact-barriers and which, accordingly, after each passage of excitation are in the same state as before, and those whose contact-barriers make themselves felt, so that they only allow to pass through with difficulty or partially. [.....] Thus there are permeable neurons (offering no resistance and retaining nothing), which serve for perception, and impermeable ones (loaded with resistance, and holding back ), which are the vehicles of memory and so probably of psychical processes in general. Henceforward I shall call the former system of neurons Φ and the latter Ψ. [..... The Ψ neurons] are permanently altered by the passage of an excitation. If we introduce the theory of contact-barriers: their contact-barriers are brought into a permanently altered state [.....] less impermeable, and so more like those of the Φ system. We shall describe the state of the contact-barriers as their degree of facilitation [Bahnung]. We can then say: Memory is represented by the facilitations existing between the Ψ neurons [..... indeed] by the differences in the facilitations between the Ψ neurons" (op. cit., p298-300; bold emphasis added).


ASIDE: The word "synapse" comes from the Greek synapsis [= "connection"]. Modern techniques have taught us a lot about the microstructure of the synapse, and yet the original concept goes back to the closing years of the nineteenth century. The concept itself has been credited to the French physiologist Dubois-Reymond (1875), but the precise term was not coined until later (Foster and Sherrington, 1897). Sherrington then made much of synaptic mechanisms in his now classic discussions of the nature of the reflex arc (Sherrington, 1906). For further historical background, see Section 2 of the companion resource "Hebbian Theory".


Freud even hazards a guess at the general location of "the Ψ system", identifying it with the grey matter of the brain, because it involved, of necessity, impermeable neurons (p303). He also suggests why some systems have impermeable neurons and others do not, thus .....


"But how did Ψ arrive at the characteristics of impermeability? After all, Φ too has contact-barriers; if they play no part whatever, why should  Ψ's contact-barriers? [..... We] attribute the differences not to the neurons but to the quantities with which they have to deal. It must then be supposed that quantities pass on to the Φ neurons against which the resistance of the contact-barriers does not come into account, but that only such quantities reach the Ψ neurons as are of the same order of magnitude as that resistance" (op.cit., pp303-304).


However, Q alone was unable to explain the problem of phenomenal quality [readers unfamiliar with the qualia debate within mental philosophy should spend a few minutes on the separate entry before proceeding]. In Freud's judgment, it required a particular system design, one in which different components were carefully integrated, for qualities to emerge, thus .....


"The Problem of Quality: Hitherto, nothing whatever has been said of the fact that every psychological theory, apart from what it achieves from the point of view of natural science, must fulfil yet another major requirement. It should explain to us what we are aware of, in the most puzzling fashion, through our 'consciousness'; and, since this consciousness knows nothing of what we have so far been assuming - quantities and neurons - it should explain this lack of knowledge to us as well. [After all], it follows, from the postulate of consciousness providing neither complete nor trustworthy knowledge of the neuronal processes, that these are in the first instance to be regarded to their whole extent as unconscious [.....]. In that case, however, a place has to be found for the content of consciousness in our quantitative Ψ processes. Consciousness gives us what are called qualities - sensations which are different in a great multiplicity of ways and whose difference is distinguished according to its relations with the external world. Within this difference there are series, similarities, and so on, but there are in fact no quantities in it. It may be asked how qualities originate and where qualities originate. [.....] Where do qualities originate? Not in the external world [where] there are only masses in motion and nothing else. In the Φ system perhaps? That tallies with the fact that the qualities are linked with perception, but is contradicted by everything that rightly argues in favour of the seat of consciousness being in the upper stories of the nervous system. In the Ψ  system then. [Again no] Thus we summon up courage to assume that there is a third system of neurons - ω perhaps [we might call it] - which is excited along with perception, but not along with reproduction, and whose states of excitation give rise to the various qualities - are, that is to say, conscious sensations" (op.cit., pp307-309; bold emphasis added).


With these basic building blocks in place, Freud then turned to motivation, the topic which would make his Interpretation of Dreams a best-seller only five years later. The core constructs here were (a) "wishful attraction",  and (b) the "defenses" which would be needed to cope with any hostile thoughts arising. These constructs were introduced together, as follows .....


"Wishful attraction can easily be explained by the assumption that the cathexis of the friendly mnemic image in a state of desire greatly exceeds in the cathexis which occurs when there is a mere perception, so that a particularly good facilitation leads from the Ψ  nucleus to the corresponding neuron of the pallium. It is harder to explain primary defence or repression - the fact that a hostile mnemic image is regularly abandoned by its cathexis as soon as possible. Nevertheless, the explanation should lie in the fact that the primary experiences of pain were brought to an end by reflex defence. The emergence of another object in place of the hostile one was the signal for the fact that the experience of pain was at an end, and the Ψ  system, taught biologically, seeks to reproduce the state in Ψ  which marked the cessation of the pain" (op.cit., p322; bold emphasis added).


As for the ego, this too could be reproduced to issues of Q, etc., properly arranged. Here is how Freud saw it happening .....


"[The states of] 'wishful attraction' and of the inclination to repression we have already touched on a state of Ψ which has not yet been discussed. For these two processes indicate that an organisation has been formed in Ψ whose presence interferes with passages [of quantity] which on the first occasion occurred in a particular way [i.e., accompanied by satisfaction or pain]. This organisation is called the 'ego'. It can easily be depicted if we consider that the regularly repeated reception of endogenous in certain neurons (of the nucleus) and the facilitating effect proceeding thence will produce a group of neurons which is constantly cathected and thus corresponds to the vehicle of the store [we like this phrase - Ed.] required by the secondary function. Thus the ego is to be defined as the totality of the Ψ cathexes, at the given time, in which a permanent component is distinguished from a changing one. [.....] While it must be the endeavour of this ego to give off its cathexes by the method of satisfaction, this cannot happen in any other way than by its influencing the repetition of experiences of pain and of affects, and by the following method, which is described generally as inhibition. [.....] Therefore, if an ego exists, it must inhibit psychical primary processes" (op.cit., pp322-324; bold emphasis added).


Freud even drew circuit diagrams of the neuron arrangements by which this course of events could be instantiated. Here is the captioning text for his Figure 14 .....


"Inhibition [is] a decided advantage to Ψ . Let us suppose that a is a hostile mnemic image and b a key-neuron to unpleasure. . Then, if a is awakened, primarily unpleasure would be released [.....]. With an inhibitory action from α [see sidenote below - Ed.] the release of unpleasure will turn out very slight and the nervous system will be spared the development and discharge of Q without any other damage. It is easy now to imagine how, with the help of a mechanism which draws the ego's attention to the imminent fresh cathexis of the hostile mnemic image, the ego can succeed in inhibiting the passage [of quantity] from a mnemic image to the release of unpleasure by a copious side-cathexis which can be strengthened according to need. Indeed, if we suppose that the original release of unpleasure is taken up by the ego itself, we shall have in it itself the source of the expenditure which is required by the inhibiting side-cathexis from the ego. In that case, the stronger the unpleasure, the stronger will be the primary defence" (op.cit., p324).


ASIDE: The Greek letters α, β, etc., denote "side cathexis" of a, b, etc. Freud is here anticipating the sort of "spreading excitation" referred to by Dell (1986) in his theory of word activation during lexical search [for more on which, see Section 1 of the companion resource "Speech Errors"].


The famous psychoanalytic notions of "primary process" and "secondary process" also both derive from the Project, thus .....


"It is probably the ω neurons which furnish this indication: the indication of reality. In the case of every external perception a qualitative excitation occurs in ω, which in the first instance, however, has no significance for Ψ. It must be added that the ω excitation leads to ω discharge, and information of this, as of every discharge, reaches Ψ. The information of the discharge from ω is thus the indication of quality or of reality for Ψ. [.....] Wishful cathexis to the point of hallucination [and] complete generation of unpleasure which involves a complete expenditure of defence are described by us as psychical primary processes; by contrast, those processes which are only made possible by a good cathexis of the ego, and which represent a moderation of the foregoing, are described as psychical secondary processes. It will be seen that the necessary precondition of the latter is a correct employment of the indications of reality, which is only possible when there is inhibition by the ego" (op.cit., pp325-327).


To bring Part 1 of the Project to a close, Freud then comments briefly on how the basic constructs can be applied to explain complex psychological phenomena such as judgment, thinking, and dreaming, as the following three snippets respectively illustrate .....


"The perceptual complex [.....] can be dissected into a component portion, neuron a, which on the whole remains the same, and a second component portion, neuron b, which for the most part varies. Language will later apply the term judgment to this dissection [.....]; it will call neuron a the thing and neuron b its activity or attribute - in short, its predicate. Thus judging is a Ψ process which is only made possible by inhibition by the ego and which is evoked by the dissimilarity between the wishful cathexis of a memory and a perceptual cathexis which is similar to it" (op.cit., p328).


"The process of thought consists in the cathexis of Ψ neurons, accompanied by a change, brought about by side-cathexis from the ego" (op.cit., p334).


"It is an important fact that Ψ primary processes, such as have been biologically suppressed in the course of Ψ development, are daily presented to us during sleep [..... one precondition of which] is a lowering of the [endogenous] load in the Ψ nucleus, which makes the secondary function superfluous. In sleep an individual is in the ideal state of inertia, rid of his store of . In adults this store is collected in the 'ego'; we may assume that it is the unloading of the ego which determines and characterises sleep. And here, as is immediately clear, we have the precondition of psychical primary processes" (op.cit., p336).


In Part 2 of the Project, Freud turns to the problems of psychopathology, specifically those associated with hysteria. On the phenomenon of "hysterical compulsion" he notes as follows .....


"An idea will, for instance, emerge in consciousness with particular frequency without the passage [of events] justifying it; or the arousing of this idea will be accompanied by psychical consequences that are unintelligible. The emergence of the excessively intense idea brings with it consequences which, on the one hand, cannot be suppressed and, on the other hand, cannot be understood - release of affect, motor innervations, impediments. The subject is by no means unaware of the striking character of the situation. Excessively intense ideas also occur normally. They lend the ego its individuality. We are not surprised at them if we know their genetic development (upbringing, experiences) and their motives. We are accustomed to regarding such excessively intense ideas as the product of strong and justifiable motives. Hysterical excessively intense ideas strike us, on the contrary, by their oddity; they are ideas which in other people have no consequences and of whose importance we can make nothing. They appear to us as intruders and usurpers, and accordingly as ridiculous" (op.cit., pp347-348; bold emphasis added). 


And as to the essentially hysterical feature of "hysterical repression", he adds .....


"As we know, the outcome of hysterical repression differs very widely from that of normal defense, of which we have precise knowledge. It is quite generally the case that we avoid thinking of what arouses only unpleasure, and we do this by directing our thoughts to something else. If, however, we accordingly manage to bring it about that the incompatible [idea] B seldom emerges in the consciousness, because we have so far as possible kept it isolated, yet we never succeed in forgetting B in such a way that we could not be reminded of it by fresh perception. Now an arousal of this kind cannot be precluded in hysteria either; the difference consists only in the fact that then, instead of B, A always becomes conscious - that is, is cathected" (op.cit., pp351-352).


Freud then dwells on the motivated irrationality of the hysteric's thought processes. He begins by presenting case, Emma [q.v.], and by then invoking the Aristotelian notion of the proton pseudos, the principle that "a false statement is the result of a preceding falsity" (op.cit., p352; editorial footnote). He sees the proton pseudos at work in Emma's case in the way her present behaviour was inappropriate because the prior affect had itself been inappropriate, thus .....


"The position can only be pictured as follows. Originally, a perceptual cathexis, as inheritor of an experience of pain, released unpleasure; it [the cathexis] was intensified by the released, and the proceeded towards discharge along pathways of passage that were in part pre-facilitated. [.....] Nevertheless, the stronger the release of unpleasure [the prior affect referred to above - Ed.], the harder was the task of the ego, which, with its side-cathexes, can after all only [achieve so much]. Furthermore, the greater the quantity that is endeavouring to effect a passage, the harder for the ego is the activity of thought [the present behaviour referred to above - Ed.], which, as everything goes to show, consists in an experimental displacing of small s. 'Reflecting' is a time-consuming activity of the ego's, which cannot occur when there are strong s in the level of affect" (op.cit., p358).


This, in turn, has implications for the entire organisation of the ego [what many refer to nowadays as its "functional architecture"], thus .....


"That is why when there is affect there is over-hastiness, and  a choice of pathways similar to the primary process. Thus it is the ego's business not to permit any release of affect, because this at the same time permits a primary process. Its best instrument for this purpose is the mechanism of attention" (ibid., p358; bold emphasis added).


Freud immediately returns to the topic of attention as he enters Part 3 of the Project, which he devotes to the workings of the mind during normal cognition. He reviews a number of areas of cognition, including attention, memory, phenomenal consciousness, understanding, and reasoning, and as far as attention is concerned he observes as follows ..... 


"If I have on the one hand the ego and on the other hand perceptions - that is, cathexes in Ψ coming from Φ (from the external world) - then I require a mechanism which causes the ego to follow the perceptions and to influence them. I find it [such a mechanism] in the fact that, according to my presuppositions, a perception invariably excites ω and thus gives rise to indications of quality. To put it more accurately, it excites consciousness (consciousness of a quality) in ω, and the discharge of the ω excitation will, [like] every discharge, furnish information to Ψ, which is in fact the indication of quality. [.....] This would seem to be the mechanism of psychical attention. [.....] The outcome of psychical attention is the cathexis of the same neurons which are bearers of the perceptual cathexis.[.....] Attention thus consists in establishing the psychical state of expectation even for those perceptions which do not coincide in part with wishful cathexes. [..... I]t is only a question of guiding the ego as to which expectant cathexis it is to establish and this purpose is served by the indications of quality" (op.cit., pp360-361; bold emphasis added).


As for the processes of thinking, Freud recognises a major interplay between what we would nowadays call the lexical and the semantic aspects of language, thus .....


"[Speech association] consists in the linking of Ψ neurons with neurons which serve sound-presentations and themselves have the closest association with motor speech-images. These associations have an advantage of two characteristics over the others: they are limited (few in number) and exclusive. In any case, from the sound-image the excitation reaches the word-image and from it reaches discharge. [.....] If now the ego precathects these word-images as it earlier did the images of ω discharge, then it will have created for itself the mechanism which directs the Ψ cathexis to the memories emerging during the passage of . This is conscious, observing thought" (op.cit., p365; bold emphasis added).


ASIDE: In On Aphasia (Freud, 1891), Freud had already written a full monograph on the organisation of language processing in the brain. Readers unfamiliar with the terms "sound-presentation" and "motor speech-image" may find value in the introductory companion resource Freud (1891). It is important to note that the mechanisms described - albeit rather datedly - in the first three sentences above are now subsumed into the modularity proposed by most modern psycholinguistic models, not least those, like Ellis (1982), which have been based on the work of Morton (e.g., 1979) and Marshall and Newcombe (1973).


During his discussion of the mechanisms of speech association Freud detected a problem at the point where a particular thought could either be routed through to become speech or else withheld as thought. To get around this problem, he presumed that the neural excitations would need to be considerably amplified if actual muscle movements were required. This raised, in turn, the requirement that the amplified excitation should not just trickle away, and to get round this subsidiary problem he invoked the still-popular term "binding". Here is how he explained it .....


"It is probable that in the process of thought the displacement-quantities too are not large. In the first place, the expenditure of large is a loss for the ego which has to be restricted as far as possible [.....]. In the second place, a large would pass along several associative pathways simultaneously and leave no time for thought-cathexis [.....]. No doubt, therefore, the current of   during the thought-process must be small. Nevertheless, on our hypothesis, perception and memory during thought must be hypercathected more strongly than during simple perception. [.....] Here we have two apparently opposing requirements: strong cathexis and weak displacement. If we want to reconcile the two, we arrive at the hypothesis of what is, as it were, a bound state in the neuron, which, though there is a high cathexis, permits only a small current" (op.cit., p368; bold emphasis added).


Finally, Freud turns to the generic problem of error, devoting his closing five pages to the topic which six years later, with the publication of Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Freud, 1901), would resurface in the form of the famous "Freudian slip", or "parapraxis". Here is his initial review of the problem [we have colour-highlighted the core problem] .....


"The further question now arises of how error can occur in the course of thought. What is error? The process of thought must now be considered still more closely. [..... For example, i]t is an obvious advantage if the arranging of thought [.....] need not wait to occur till the state of expectation but can have occurred already. [.....] If the thought-process lasts too long, its product will have become useless in the meantime. For that reason we 'think ahead'. The beginning of the thought-processes which have ramified [from practical thought] is the forming of judgments. The ego arrived at this through a discovery in its organisation - [.....] that perceptual cathexes coincide in part with information from one's own body" (op. cit., pp383-384; bold emphasis added).


ASIDE: The basic notion here is that one part of a modular brain can be thinking while another part is doing what has already been thought about. This property is now presumed in all modern models of the motor hierarchy, either for behaviour in general [see, for example, Norman (1990)] or for speech behaviour in particular [see, for example, Garrett (1990)]. It is also - perhaps significantly - one of the fundamental design principles of modern electronic computers [compare pipelining and buffering].


..... and here is his analysis of the types of error which may arise in consequence .....


"As a consequence, the perceptual complexes are divided into a constant, non-understood, part - the thing - and a changing, understandable, one - the attribute or movement of the thing. [.....] Error can already make its way in during the creating of a judgment. For the thing-complex and movement-complex are never quite identical, and among their divergent components there may be some the neglect of which disturbs the outcome in reality. [.....] These are mistakes in judgment or faults in the premises. Another ground for error may lie in the fact that the perceptions of reality have not been completely perceived because they were not within range of the senses. These are errors of ignorance, which no human being can avoid. Where this determinant does not apply, the psychical precathexis may be defective [.....] and inaccurate perceptions and incomplete passages of thought may result. These are errors due to insufficient attention" (op.cit., pp383-384). 


Finally, Freud turns to the processes by which the system monitors its own successful execution of all which has gone before, observing as follows .....


"We have still to consider one kind of thought: critical or examining thought. This is occasioned when, in spite of all the rules having been observed, the process of expectation, followed by the specific action, leads to unpleasure instead of to satisfaction. Critical thought seeks [.....] to repeat the whole passage of in order to detect some fault in thought or some psychological deficit [note this term - Ed.]. [It] is cognitive thought with a given object - namely, a series of thoughts. [.....] Action, again, we can only picture as the full cathexis of those motor-images which have been brought into prominence during the thought-process, in addition, perhaps, to those which (if there was a state of expectation) formed part of the volitional component of the specific action. Here the bound state is renounced and the cathexes of attention are withdrawn" (op.cit., pp385-386; bold emphasis added).


WHERE TO NEXT: For a concise summary of the Project's basic concepts and propositions, see the quotation from Pribram (1969) in Freud's Project, Later Commentaries on. For an alternative main narrative, see Fancher (1976/2007 online). For more on Freud's later conceptualisation of consciousness and "the Unconscious", see unconscious, Freudian. For equivalent modern models, begin with cell assembly, follow the onward links to connectionism, and then see both Edelman and Tononi's (2000) theory of neuronal group selection and Frith [C.], Rees, and Friston's (1998) forward model. For more on speech association as speech, see the basics of Dell's (1986) spreading activation theory of lexical access in Section 3.1 of the companion resource on "Speech Errors". For more on speech association as association, see semantic networks in general and free association in particular. For more on binding, see binding problem. There are further short extracts from the Project in the entries for identification (0) and inner speech.



Freud's Project, Later Commentaries on: [See firstly Freud's Project.] The 1895 Project was one of the last of Freud's writings to be translated into English. Strachey produced a version in 1954, choosing the English title as he did so, and then revised the text for the popular marketplace in 1966, nearly 30 years after Freud's death. By then, of course, the practice of drawing neural circuit diagrams had become rather commonplace - not only was Hebb's (1949) cell assembly already nearly 20 years old, but Connectionism was beginning to develop working "Perceptrons" [rudimentary neural networks] built out of assemblies of artificial neurons. The Project therefore generated a lot of analysis and comment, led by the respected neuropsychologist Karl H. Pribram. Pribram began this in journal articles (Pribram, 1962, 1969), and followed it up with a full monograph written as a cross-disciplinary collaboration with the veteran psychoanalyst Merton M. Gill (Pribram and Gill, 1976). These later works provide useful perspective comment. For example, Pribram summarises the final architecture as follows .....


"There is a direct projection system. This is connected with exteroceptors which act as 'sieves that let through' certain quantities of excitation with specific frequency characteristics. Because of repeated bombardment, the synapses between projection system neurons have a low resistance. This system acts essentially as a conduction pathway for the transmission of neural impulses. Both the quantity and the patterns of frequency of excitation are transmitted. The connections of the projection system are both with a nuclear system and with a cortical system. The nuclear system is directly influenced as well by the internal environment of the organism through centrally located neuroreceptors. [.....] Quantity of excitation in the projection system can be recorded in the form of neural impulses - in the nuclear system this same neural activity becomes cathected, i.e. bound, nontransmitted excitation, and is recordable as a graded potential charge" (Pribram, 1969, p406).


Pribram and Gill did more than just present the technicalities of Freud's scheme, for they saw the Project as something far more significant for psychoanalytic theory, that is to say, as a body of theory capable of bringing it nothing less than scientific respectability. For one thing, the Project [and we would ourselves have preferred it had Strachey translated the Entwurf of Freud's German manuscript as "design" (a perfectly legitimate alternative German usage)] was part of science's continuing search for "a cognitive and control theory which could become clinically relevant" (p9), and for another, it elevated psychoanalysis to the status of empirical science by virtue of its ability to generate empirically testable "neurobiological hypotheses". Pribram also led the contributors at the 1995 Centennial celebrations of the Project's publication, subsequently compiled as Bilder and Lefever (1998).


ENDNOTE: But what of Freud himself? It is routinely reported (after Strachey, op. cit., p290n) that Freud was strangely reluctant in his later academic life to invoke the Project; perhaps no longer happy that it held together theoretically. Perhaps he no longer felt confident at being able to reconcile the microstructures of cathected with the macrostructures (ego, etc.) which they eventually gave rise to. It is a shame that in his final years he could not have seen the computer pioneers Konrad Zuse (in Germany) or George Stibitz (in America) busily at work on their prototype automatic computing systems [for more on which, see Smith (2004 online; Section 3)], or lived long enough to read about McCullough and Pitts' (various from 1943) "neurodes" [see Smith (2004 online, Section 1)]. He would have been instantly at home with what he would have seen.



Friston, Karl J.: [British neuroscientist] [Homepage] Friston is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for inspiring state-of-the-art research into functional connectivity.



Frith, Christopher, D.: [British neuropsychologist.] [Academic homepage] Christopher Frith is noteworthy within the context of the present glossary for his work on cognitive deficit - see particularly the entry for theory of mind theory of schizophrenia.



Frith, Uta: [British neuropsychologist.] [Academic homepage] Uta Frith is noteworthy within the context of the present glossary for her work on cognitive deficit - see particularly the entry for theory of mind theory of autism.



Fromm, Erich: [German (later American) psychoanalytic theorist (1900-1980).] [Click for external biography] See free will, Fromm's theory of. Fromm was a self-proclaimed "mystic", and a student of how humans are actually very afraid of "freedom", often preferring to run away from it, or otherwise corrupt it.



Frontal Amnesia: See frontal lobe syndrome.



Frontal Battery: [See firstly frontal lobe syndrome and dysexecutive syndrome.] A loose collection of psychometric tests - both adhoc and formally standardised - applied over a period of time to build up a bigger picture of a frontal patient's executive function. To do the frontal assessment properly, therefore requires tests of each executive processing component (attention, planning, execution, etc.). Here are some typical tests, and the components they are supposed to be assessing. [For a specimen clinical application of this method, see Van der Linden, Coyette, and Seron (1992).]


Orienting to Time, Person, and Place: Price Estimation Tasks; Cognitive Estimates Test; Mannikin Test


Cognitive Flexibility (Avoidance of Perseveration): Self-Ordered Pointing Task; Weigl Sorting Task; Wisconsin Card Sorting Test; Delayed Alternation Test


Controlling Impulsivity: Stroop Task


Forward Planning: Multiple Errands Test; Porteus Maze; Six Elements Test; Tower of Hanoi; Tower of London



Frontal Lobe Syndrome: Neurologists and neuropsychologists use this term to describe a typical package of deficits and dysfunctions associated with acquired or developmental malfunction of the frontal lobe [for a full introduction, see Sections 1 and 2 of our e-resource "From Frontal Lobe Syndrome to Dysexecutive Syndrome"]. Alternatively, it is "the intriguing but puzzling pattern of deficits sometimes associated with damage to the frontal lobes" (Baddeley, 1986, p236). One of the earliest accounts of the effects of a frontal lobe lesion is Bigelow's (1850) [timeline] account of the brain-injured American railway labourer Phineas Gage. This was followed by investigations of deliberately inflicted frontal lesions in animals by the likes of Ferrier (1886) [timeline] and Bianchi (1895, 1922). Bianchi (1922) summarises the animal studies as showing five areas of frontal deficit, namely (a) loss of "perceptive power", leading to defective attention and object recognition, (b) reduction in memory, (c) reduction in "associative power", leading to lack of coordination of the individual steps leading towards a given goal, and thus to severe difficulty solving anything but the most simple problems, (d) altered emotional attachments, leading to serious changes in "sociality", and (e) disruption of focal consciousness and purposive behaviour, leading to apathy and/or distractibility. Similarly, Denny-Brown (1951) surveyed frontal lobe problems in humans, and found much the same pattern of deficit, concluding, therefore, that memory defects were common enough following frontal damage, but were far from being the primary characteristic. Frontal amnesias, in other words, are not as immediately obvious as those arising from temporal lobe damage. Nor do many memory tests readily detect frontal lobe damage, for which reason clinical neuropsychologists have devised special frontal lobe tasks, or frontal batteries, to be selectively sensitive to frontal lobe damage.



Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis: See aggression, frustration and.



Function: In everyday English, "function" is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, "a function" is "the special kind of activity proper to any thing; the mode of action by which it fulfils its purpose" (O.E.D.). As a verb, "to function" is "to fulfil a function; to perform one's duty or part; to operate; to act" (O.E.D.). The word has acquired a similar range of usages in mental philosophy. We see it, for example, as that which a neuroanatomical structure is for in the intact and integrated central nervous system, and the localisation of function debate has a particularly long history. However, it was not until the arrival of Darwin's (1859) "Origin of Species" that scientists began to appreciate the importance of the "survival value" of this or that anatomical structure in having determined (in geological time) what the organism as a whole currently looks like and how it currently works. Organisms exist to survive, and it is down to their subsystems to help them do so. The function of any given structure had to fit in with the function of the subsystem as a whole, and "pull its weight". Nevertheless, an academic schism soon opened up. Those who thought that mechanism was paramount were called "Structuralists", while those who thought that mechanism's function was paramount were called "Functionalists". Husserl, for example, came down on strongly in favour of function, as may be seen from the following .....


"[The] greatest problems of all are the functional problems [.....]. They concern the way in which, for instance, [noeses] so bring into being the consciousness of something, that in and through it the objective unity of the field of objects (Gegenständlichkeit) may permit of being consistently 'declared', 'shown forth', and 'rationally' determined. 'Function' in this sense [.....] is something wholly unique, grounded in the pure essence of the noeses. Consciousness is just consciousness 'of' something; it is its essential nature to conceal 'meaning' within itself [.....]. The viewpoint of Function is the central viewpoint of phenomenology [.....]. Instead of the single experiences being analysed and compared, described and classified, all treatment of detail is governed by the 'teleological' view of its function in making 'synthetic unity' possible" (Ideas, pp230-231).



Functional Architecture: [See firstly function.] The functional "architecture" of a system (as opposed to its physical architecture) is the purpose, arrangement, and organisation of its inner processes as opposed to their structure. It is the sense behind any one component part, rather than its physical dimensions. For a little on the functional architecture of the ego, see Freud's Project. [See now and compare functional decomposition, functionality, functional primitive, etc.]



Functional Connectivity: [See firstly interface and parallel distributed processing.] This is Friston's (1994) term for the extent to which the modules of a parallel distributed brain are successfully able to talk to each other. It is a thus a measure of the mental left hand knowing what the mental right hand is up to; of the mental whole to be greater than the sum of its neural parts. It is "the mechanism for the coordination of activity between different neural assemblies in order to achieve a complex cognitive task or perceptual process" (Fingelkurts, Fingelkurts, and Kahkonen, 2005 online abstract). What we have with functional connectivity, therefore, is a new name for a very important old notion, one which goes back at least to Descartes and his "tubules". What is uncontrovertibly new, of course, is the scanning technology available to today's neuroscientists, and the power this gives them of displaying the co-activity of brain areas graphically. As to the neural substrate of this connectivity, there are only three physical transmission options available, and it is likely that all three combine in some as-yet-undetermined way. Historically speaking, the first connection system to be discovered was the brain's "white matter", that is to say, the bundles of axons which interlink the main areas of cerebral cortex [to see cross-sectional sketches of these, click here]. More recently, there has been a lot of interest in the brain's "lateral connectivity" system, that is to say, the ultrafine system of dendrites running horizontally through the surface layers of the cerebral cortex [to see cross-sectional sketches of these follow the links in the lateral connectivity entry]. The third method of transmission - usually ignored by theorists - is (macroscopic) electrostatic induction. Working together in ways not yet fully understood, these substrates allow an activated brain area to recruit the areas it needs to have working with it on the task at hand, and to suppress those which it does not need. This helps to create what Cherry (1957, p16) termed the "cooperative link".  [See now functional connectivity analysis. For a reader-friendly introduction to the application of functional connectivity neuroimaging in the area of speech and language, we recommend the website of the University of Cambridge's Centre for Speech, Language, and the Brain [take me there]. For a technical analysis of the functionality required during intermodular telecommunications, see OSI Reference Model. For the part played by functional connectivity in the psychiatric clinic, see functional connection and dissociation.]



Functional Connectivity Analysis: [See firstly functional connectivity.] This is the formal term for the systematic investigation of the brain's functional connectivity when performing a given task, with a view to identifying the comparative health of the inter-modular connections needing to be activated during that performance. [For a list of specific techniques and an overview of typical research, see the programme for the 2002 Düsseldorf conference on the subject - take me there.]



Functional Connectivity and Dissociation: [See firstly functional connectivity and functional connectivity analysis.] When two mental modules fail to interface normally, they may legitimately be described as "dissociated", and, as set out in the entry for dissociation (1/2/3), there is a significant history to this term. Psychoanalysts, for example, have discussed dissociation as a defense mechanism, psychiatrists have used the word to describe the sort of memory/personality dis-integration seen in certain mental health and learning disability conditions, and neurologists and neuropsychologists have used it to describe the selective effect of localised brain lesions on the overall integrity of cognition. The recent upsurge in functional connectivity research therefore did not go unnoticed by those who had long been trying to understand "dissociative phenomena". The University of Western Ontario's Ruth Lanius is typical of the new "neuropsychiatry", having applied the functional connectivity paradigm to the study of traumatic memory. For example, Lanius et al (2004) found that different brain regions were activated in the recall of traumatic memories depending on whether or not the person concerned had developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as now summarised [click here to print off a map of Brodmann's areas before you proceed] .....


"The most striking findings arose from the connectivity analyses originating from activation in the cognitive division of the right anterior cingulate gyrus (Brodmann's area 32) []. The affective division of [this] gyrus has been shown to be involved during the recall of traumatic material in PTSD [..... and to play] a role in the conscious experience of emotion and in linking autonomic changes to emotional stimuli []. PSTD subjects did not show similar patterns of alterations in brain activation during recall of a neutral autobiographical memory. [.....] All PTSD patients experienced the traumatic memories in the form of flashbacks, whereas the comparison subjects recalled the traumatic events as ordinary autobiographical memories. Re-experiencing of traumatic events in the form of flashbacks is very different from the recall of events as ordinary autobiographical memories []. Flashbacks often occur spontaneously and are triggered by internal or external events, and their occurrence usually cannot be controlled. Flashbacks also involve a subjective distortion in time. They are much more vivid in nature and are often experienced as though the event were happening again in the present. [..... T]he comparison subjects had greater levels of brain activation in the left superior frontal gyrus (Brodmann's area 9), left anterior cingulate gyrus (Brodmann's area 32), left striatum (caudate), left parietal lobe (Brodmann's areas 40 and 43), and left insula (Brodmann's area 13). [.....] The functional connectivity analyses for PTSD patients revealed a much more nonverbal pattern of memory retrieval" (pp39-40).


[To see the press release announcing this research, click here.]



Functional Decomposition: This is one of the two basic domains of modern systems analysis [the other being entity-relationship modelling]. The term refers to the recursive analysis of the sub-processes within a process, beginning ideally at the very top, and continuing down the hierarchy of processes until one of two things happens - either (a) you reach the level at which you have understood enough, or (b) you reach a level beyond which no further decomposition is possible (the processes at this level being known as functional primitives). The decomposition begins with a context diagram and continues down the hierarchy of processes until one of two things happens - either (a) you reach the level at which you have seen enough, or (b) you reach a level beyond which no further decomposition is possible (the processes at this level being known as "functional primitives"). The beauty of this approach lies in the fact that it works for all systems, functions, and processes, including biological and psychological ones [for more on the pivotally important role of functional decomposition in the design of successful commercial computer systems, see Yourdon and Constantine (1979), De Marco (1979), Martin and McClure (1985), or Longworth (1989)]. It is lack of progress with the functional decomposition of cognition in the broad which is to blame for the explanatory gap in the mind-brain debate. [For practical guidance with this technique, see our e-tutorial on "How to Draw Cognitive Diagrams" (Section 3).]



Functional Primitive: See functional decomposition.



Functionalism: Functionalism is one of the poles on the Structuralism-Functionalism dimension, one of the five bipolar dimensions by which Flugel and West (1964) categorise late 19th century schools of psychology. It was the name given to the philosophical doctrine that the mind's mental operations exist thanks to their practical value in satisfying the needs of a vulnerable organism in a hostile environment. The term became popular around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries from the writings of John Dewey and James Angell at the University of Chicago, but did not directly address mental information processing as we would nowadays understand it. The coming of the computer age changed all this, and more recently the term has been extended to include the belief that there is value to be had from analysing cognitive processes in isolation, i.e. separated from considerations of brain anatomy. In this respect, modern philosophies of mind borrow heavily from computer science. The first stirrings of modern functionalism can be seen in the early 1950s, in computer-influenced theories of attention and memory [e.g. Cherry (1953), Broadbent (1958), and Sperling (1960)], and came to full fruition in the writings of David Marr, and in his notion of the computational level of cognition (see below) in particular. [For a nice introduction to Marr's work, we recommend McClamrock (1991/2004 online).]



Functionality: The overall benefit accruing from, or provided by, a system. That which a system does or exists to provide, and therefore the sum total of products or services specified in that system's Requirements Specification, if one exists.




See the Master References List