In the wake of psychoanalytic thought, under the influence of 19th century idolatry, the unconscious has ordinarily come to be thought of as below, as either a dark cellar of repression or the source of geological forces working upon us in subterranean ways. Barfield would change and expand our understanding of the unconscious.

And so we find Barfield pointing out (in "The Son of God and the Son of Man") how D. H. Lawrence and his followers--those espousing sexuality as liberation--"tacitly assume that the unconscious is rooted, not in mental or spiritual but in bodily energies, the divine origins of the body itself." Thus, "they forget that man is, precisely in his physical organism, already a 'son of god'" (RM 252).

Though he would change our understanding of its nature, Barfield certainly does not undervalue its significance. As early as Poetic Diction, for example, he writes: "The possibility of man's avoiding self-destruction depends on his realizing before it is too late that what he let loose over Hiroshima, after fiddling with its exterior for three centuries like a mechanical toy, was the forces of his own unconscious mind" (35-36).

See in particular Unancestral Voice, passim, Romanticism Comes of Age, passim.