|One of the most curious ideas is being inserted almost "between the lines" in this affair.|
The strange idea is that the subconscious does not exist - and that the Brandens have inserted it into Objectivism. (I believe I read something explicitly to that effect by Firehammer.)
That notion is completely false, though.
Having read a great deal of Nathaniel Branden's works, I can vouch for the fact that his standard of mental health is equivalent to Ayn Rand's, which includes the subconscious. (The very concept of psycho-epistemology is based on the interaction between the conscious and the subconscious.) Here is a quote from Ayn Rand in her essay, "The Psychology of Psychologizing" in The Objectivist - March 1971.
The task of evaluating the processes of man's subconscious is the province of psychology. Psychology does not regard its subject morally, but medically—i.e., from the aspect of health or malfunction (with cognitive competence as the proper standard of health). Branden also includes self-esteem as a proper standard of health. Although I cannot find an explicit statement that Ayn Rand also does, her work is peppered with allusions to self-esteem as if it were a standard of mental health. To be fair to Branden's assertion that she wrote very little on self-esteem, she actually did not write very much on the topic itself. Her work, however, contains countless references to self-esteem - usually in passing and implying that self-esteem is a psychologically healthy state or one to be sought. Here is a typical such statement from "The Comprachicos," The Objectivist - September 1970.
... if he [a child] chooses to place some value above his own sense of himself, what he gradually kills is his self-esteem. Thereafter, he is left without motivation to correct his psycho-epistemology; he has reason to dread reason, reality and truth; his entire emotional mechanism is automatized to serve as a defense against them. Rand's works are so saturated with references to the subconscious, I wonder where all this came from.
Her theory is that the conscious mind has much more control over the subconscious through volition than the standard psychology approach, but you can still find phrases like "subconscious urges" and such all throughout her writings.
Edit - I looked up Firehammer's view on the subconscious and his explicit statement is, "I know there is no such thing as a subconscious. All of the things attributed to that pseudo-concept (invented by Sigmund Freud) are explained by well understood attributes of consciousness, memory, and habituation."
He explicitly states that Rand was influenced into using the concept of subconscious by Nathaniel Branden, and that her use of the word "integration" was precise sometimes, but used "in an almost 'mystical' way in other contexts." On how integration works (for percepts, for example), Firehammer's opinion of Rand's view is "blank-out." Also, he thinks she used the word subconscious "in a somewhat confused way." (See this thread, http://usabig.com/wowbbforums/view_topic.php?id=28&forum_id=6, for concrete examples, including all of the above Firehammer quotes.)
Basically, Firehammer's view of the subconscious has little to do with Objectivism - as given in the works of Ayn Rand. He appears to merely want to set up Nathaniel Branden as a promoter of Freud's ideas, which he wasn't. Branden's concept of the subconscious (including repression) differs vastly from Freud's.
(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 10/18, 3:39pm)
(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 10/18, 4:22pm)