If “wrong” could be finished with just by saying so, the child could be finished with his wrong impulses. But no, it is not finished, so the child begins to repress it. Repression begins, and whatever the parents and society call wrong the child pushes into the basement of his mind. And it is all this hidden away stuff that becomes the unconscious. This is how the unconscious is born. Whatever is kept in the back cellar the child has no wish to see, because if it is seen the child will become restless and troubled. So the child begins to create an inner blindness so that he cannot see the bad things in himself..
You may have noticed that at the first sign of fear children close their eyes. Perhaps they think that if they cannot see then the fear will go away. This is the logic of the ostrich. Seeing an enemy, the ostrich buries its head in the sand. This way it cannot see the enemy, so it thinks there is no enemy there. What is not seen does not exist. Only what is seen, exists. What is the child to do? We have no idea of the child’s dilemma. The things that he has been told are bad are now hidden within himself; he stops looking at them, turns his back on them. It is this turning of the back that gives birth to the unconscious.
Thus, you will be surprised to know, you cannot go back into your memory earlier than when you were four years old. Go back and you will find that your memory stops at a certain point, and you cannot go beyond that point. Five years, four years, three for those who can look back furthest – that’s all. There it stops. You have completely wiped out those three or four years at the beginning of your life. But if you are hypnotized and asked, those memories reappear. It is not that the memory had been really erased but just that you had turned your back on it.
Why should you be unable to remember the first four years of your life? Psychologists have been very anxious to know. After all, you were conscious. The child less than four years old lives in a world of conscious experiencing; there are events happening, there are happinesses and unhappinesses happening. Why is their remembrance of them lost? The scientific finding of psychologists is that we turn our backs on that which makes us unhappy – this is our way of getting rid of unhappiness. But everybody says that the childhood days were such happy days! Had they really been happy those memories of the first four years would be available – because we preserve the memories of happiness, it is the unhappiness that we tend to forget. Had our childhood been happy it would have crystallized in our memory; we would never have lost sight of it. But it is not the whole of our childhood that we remember, and herein lies the reason why we have the idea that childhood was such happiness – because the unhappiness is forgotten. Those four years that we have forgotten have become our unconscious.