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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

The Protective Function of the Unconscious Mind

A common complaint of patients during psychotherapy is wishing that they had the greater self-knowledge they now possess as a youth. This universal longing reflects both the benefit of life experience and the protective function of the unconscious mind.


The psychological damage from an unhealthy childhood can be great. Sensing this, the unconscious mind creates false explanations to protect self-esteem and avoid the despair which might cause suicide. Only after positive development has occurred can many tolerate realizing their earlier emotional deficits.


And not only of psychotherapy patients is this true. Many, at the end of their education or working career, are amazed by how they endured the difficult, painful course over which they traveled.

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