On cognitive tensions. The mediating function of a symbol through the lens of Kleinian psychoanalysis and Peirce semiotic


  • Marta Iwaszuk Institute of Cultural Studies, Faculty of Historical and Pedagogical Sciences, Wrocław University ul Szewska 50/51, 50-139 Wrocław, Poland https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7360-1769




Charles S. Peirce, Melanie Klein, symbolization, conscious, unconscious


Aim. The foundation of symbolization is a substitution: a mediation between a Representamen and Object. The paper leverages this core mechanic to examine the substitutions within the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind, which compose every act of thinking. Recognizing it is a single instance: the Ego, which regulates this parallel mediation, the paper focuses on the exploration of dichotomies that result from the necessity to perform two symbolizations simultaneously.

Concepts. The study’s theoretical framework is determined by Charles S. Peirce’s (1998) concept of sign and Melanie Klein’s (1948) psychoanalytic theory. From semiotic and psychoanalytic angles, this paper explores possible comprehensions of the object in the quasi-mind (Interpretant in infinite semiosis) and actual realization of code in the act of individual thinking (Ego mediating between conscious and unconscious symbolization).

Results and conclusion. The main result of the study is the exposure of dichotomies that structure the shared ground for the conscious and the unconscious symbolization. This, in turn, highlights tangible constraints that the mind is subjected to in the act of thinking.

Cognitive value. The study’s main contribution is the high-level scheme of dynamics that hold the Ego in reality through the means of unconscious and conscious symbolization. The study also incorporates into coherent model unexamined aspects of individual sign usage: it deploys psychic continuity into the conscious symbolization process (by basing the model on the instance of Ego), which allows addressing the issues arising at the border of conscious and unconscious symbolization.


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Author Biography

Marta Iwaszuk, Institute of Cultural Studies, Faculty of Historical and Pedagogical Sciences, Wrocław University ul Szewska 50/51, 50-139 Wrocław, Poland

Faculty of Cultural Studies, University of Wroclaw, Szewska 50/51, Wroclaw, Poland

Master of Polish Philology, Cultural Studies, and Psychology. Author of the several papers on Kleinian psychoanalysis and Charles Peirce semiotic, that examine interdependencies between conscious and unconscious aspects of the semiotic activity of human being. Currently preparing PhD dissertation based on “The Scrolls of Auschwitz”, which analyses relationships between mind, art and culture in their confrontation with genocide.


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How to Cite

Iwaszuk, M. (2021). On cognitive tensions. The mediating function of a symbol through the lens of Kleinian psychoanalysis and Peirce semiotic. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 12(2), 415–431. https://doi.org/10.15503/jecs2021.2.415.431