Understanding the Unconscious

Freud divided the mind into its conscious and unconscious states. The conscious mind contains all the thoughts, feelings, cognitions, and memories we acknowledge, while the unconscious consists of deeper mental processes that are not readily available to the conscious mind. However, the unconscious is where much of the mind’s work gets done; it's the repository of automatic skills, the source of stored and often repressed memories of traumatic experiences, intuition, fantasy and dreams, and an engine of information processing. 

While it is difficult to measure what exists in the unconscious, we know that even fleeting perceptions can leave lasting imprints on the unconscious mind long before one becomes aware of them. What lives in the unconscious mind can also eek out at any time, in different ways, from misspoken comments to random behaviors. From these unconscious “leaks” one may gain a clearer understanding of his inner state and deeper motivations.

Into Conscious Awareness

The unconscious is sometimes referred to as the “shadows of the mind,” but it is not some black hole of unacceptable impulses waiting to trip a person up. It can, however, be a source of hidden and often disturbing beliefs, fears, and attitudes that affect people's everyday thinking and behavior. We may hold these thoughts down because they feel threatening, yet we know suppression isn’t a long-term solution. Most forms of psychotherapy aim to bring into conscious awareness many of these hindrances, so that we can examine them, choose how best to deal with them, and perhaps rise above them.


Dreaming, Cognition

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