Suppose I unconsciously want to sleep with my mother (I'm not sure I do: it's just a hypothetical). Can that unconscious wish to do so be fulfilled by sleeping with yours, if I consciously or unconsciously identify with you?

What is the word for that process?

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    $\begingroup$ This sounds like you may be basing your question on Freud; Freud is not particularly scientific; though there are some modern aspects of psychoanalysis that are more interested in being evidence based, and though Freud is highly influential in psychology, he also just plain made a lot of stuff up. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 6:39

1 Answer 1


Catharsis is the technical term for the "release" of an unconscious conflict.

According to the definition, conflict may or may not be "resolved" if acted upon. For instance, consider someone who is primarily homosexual, has a brief homosexual encounter after coming out of the closet, but then proceeds to marry someone of the opposite sex (because that is what their family wants them to do).

  • $\begingroup$ are you talking about unconscious attraction to the same sex there? $\endgroup$
    – user29757
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ @anon The example is intended to illustrate whether (or not) an unconscious conflict is resolved when experienced or acted upon. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 1:48
  • $\begingroup$ oh right. why think that that conflict is unconscious in these cases. I guess it could be? $\endgroup$
    – user29757
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ @anon A little more nuanced than simply committing to either unconscious, conscious, or sub-conscious. Same goes for the example you proposed of a parent-child incest relationship. For example, in my example what is conscious is later repressed (or dissociated from) into sub-conscious. Whereas, your example seems to be conveying unconscious to conscious. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ yeah that makes sense. I remember reading the unconscious is out of time, actually. so what we repress was never full conscious? $\endgroup$
    – user29757
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 19:35

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