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Ignacio Matte Blanco (October 3, 1908 – January 11, 1995) was a Chilean psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who developed a rule-based structure for the unconscious which allows us to make sense of the non-logical aspects of thought. Born in Santiago, Chile, Matte Blanco was educated in Chile, trained in psychiatry and psychoanalysis in England and worked in the United States, Chile, and Italy, where his family now lives. He died in Rome at the age of 86.

Matte Blanco studied Freud's five characteristics of the unconscious [1] and deduced that if the unconscious has consistent characteristics it must have rules, or there would be chaos. However the nature of the characteristics indicate that the rules differ from conventional logic. In The Unconscious as Infinite Sets Matte Blanco [2] proposes that the structure of the unconscious can be summarised by the principle of Generalisation and the principle of Symmetry.

Under the principle of Generalisation the unconscious perceives individual objects as members of classes or sets which are in turn grouped into more general classes. This is compatible with conventional logic. The discontinuity is introduced by the principle of Symmetry under which relationships are treated as symmetrical, or reversible. For example an asymmetrical relationship, X is greater than Y, becomes reversible so that Y is simultaneously greater than X.

The principle of Symmetry is clearly outside of conventional logic, consequently Matte Blanco suggests that this alternative logic be called Symmetrical Logic. He points out that "We are always, in a given mental product, confronted by a mixture of the logic of the unconscious with that of the preconscious and consciousness" [3]. Matte Blanco gives this mixture of two logics the name bi-logic and points out that our thinking is usually bi-logical, expressing the both types of logic to differing extents.

Matte Blanco hoped that his logical underpinning for the unconscious would contribute to the development of pyschoanalytic and other areas of knowledge. His ideas have been used to illuminate thinking in psychotherapy, [4] and theology [5] as well as art and literature. An International Bi-logic Conference takes place every two years; in 2010 it will be held in London.


  1. Freud, S. (1933) New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. New York: Norton
  2. Matte Blanco, I. (1975) The Unconscious as Infinite Sets. London: Karmac
  3. Matte Blanco, I. (1988) Thinking, Feeling and Being London and New York: Routledge
  4. Rayner, E. (1995) Unconscious Logic: An Introduction to Matte Blanco's Bi-logic and Its Uses. London and New York: Routledge.
  5. Bomford, R. (1999) The Symmetry of God. London: Free Association Books

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