The uncanny is a Freudian concept which discusses that which is unnatural, strange or uncomfortable to us but seems familiar and foreign at the same time, causing intellectual uncertainty. The term Canny is from Anglo-Saxon origin, it means knowledge, understanding or awareness. In other words canny is mental perception. Therefore the term uncanny means something outside one’s familiar knowledge or perceptions.
Sigmund Freud, a psychologist of the early twentieth century, investigated many theories and concepts within the inner workings of the human mind. One of these aspects he explored was the Uncanny. In 1919, Freud wrote an essay on the Uncanny called “Unheimliche” which means "the opposite of what is familiar”.
The uncanny has not only been discussed by Sigmund Freud, but also by Friedrich Nietzsche and Ernst Jentsch have also explored that which can be considered uncanny. Friedrich Nietzsche, constructed the phrase "European nihilism" to explain his view condition that afflicts those Enlightenment ideals that seemingly hold strong values yet undermine themselves. He wrote that this is the "uncanniest of all guests" when he was talking about nihilism in "The Will to Power" manuscript. Ernst Jentsch who was a German psychiatrist, wrote "On the Psychology of the Uncanny" in 1906 where he defines the uncanny as being a product of "intellectual uncertainty; so that the uncanny would always, as it were, be something one does not know one’s way about in. The better orientated in his environment a person is, the less readily will he get the
impression of something uncanny in regard to the objects and events in it." These ideas, and more, revolving around the concept of the uncanny were continued on by Sigmund Freud who further developed the theories.
The following website consists of a slideshow presentation which explains Freud's Uncanny. Written by Dr. Rob McMinn.