An Analogy: The Mind and Hydraulics
Inspired by the gardens of Versailles, Descartes compared the spirits of the body flowing through the nervous system to the water flowing through the hydraulic systems of the gardens. In the hydraulic system the fountains are controlled by a fountaineer much like Descartes’ view of the mind and body. Our mind serves the fountaineer for the rest of our body from which all else extends and is controlled.
Psychologists today still cannot fully distinguish whether the mind or brain are separate or unified; however, most psychologists as well as other scientists agree that mind’s workings lies within the anatomy of the brain. How our mental and physical health connect is even more complicated but what we do know is that a strong connection does exist.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, is known for his controversial theories, many of which have been discredited today. This includes his theory of repression. He believed that all of our unconscious was once part of our awareness but through repression our unconscious was formed. Freud’s theory of repression was inspired by Descartes’ hydraulic metaphor of the nervous system – pressure to relieve stress from our mind pushes unwanted thoughts into our unconscious. One of the many disputes that fueled the rivalry between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung included their differing beliefs on repression an the anatomy of the nervous system. Jung firmly stood by that part of our unconscious is innately part of our unconscious.
Collin, Catherine. The Psychology Book. New York: DK Pub., 2012. Print.