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Unformulated Experience by Donnel B. Stern

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3 Familiar Chaos

Unformulated Experience as Defense

We know from everyday experience that we have at least some influence over what parts of our experience fail to develop into articulate form. Defensively motivated unformulated experience is a kind of "familiar chaos," to borrow a phrase from Paul Valery, a state of mind cultivated and perpetuated in the service of the conservative intention to observe, think, and feel only in the well-worn channels—in the service, actually, of the wish not to think. The "chaos" refers to the natural form of undeveloped thought. Experience maintained in this state can carry with it a comforting sense of familiarity. It may be banal and unquestioned, but it feels like one's own. Interpretation is avoided; familiarity ...

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