The Freud Museum


Is the unconscious good or bad?

The unconscious can't be said to be 'good' or 'bad' – it doesn’t have any kind of built-in moral compass. Moral judgements are only passed on unconscious ideas insofar as they cross into the preconscious or consciousness. Unconscious ideas can influence people to act in ways that might be regarded as immoral (such as shoplifting in order to get caught and punished), but they can also be seen at work behind acts that are regarded as morally virtuous (such as devoting one's life to helping the poor in order to compensate for one's father's failure to achieve his ambitions of wealth).

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