Info from for the post Three Subconscious Levels
The unconscious mind might be defined as that part of the mind which gives rise to a collection of mental phenomena that manifest in a person’s mind but which the person is not aware of at the time of their occurrence. These phenomena include unconscious feelings, unconscious or automatic skills, unnoticed perceptions, unconscious thoughts, unconscious habits and automatic reactions, complexes, hidden phobias and concealed desires.
The unconscious mind can be seen as the source of night dreams and automatic thoughts (those that appear without apparent cause). It can be seen as the repository of memories that have been forgotten but that may nevertheless be accessible to consciousness at some later time. It can be seen as the locus of implicit knowledge, i.e. all the things that we have learned so well that we do them without thinking. A familiar example of the operation of the unconscious is the phenomenon where one thinks about some problem, cannot find a solution but wakes up one morning with a new idea that unlocks the problem.
Observers throughout history have argued that there are influences on consciousness from other parts of the mind. These observers differ in the use of related terms, including: unconsciousness as a personal habit; being unaware and intuition. Terms related to semi-consciousness include: awakening, implicit memory, the subconscious, subliminal messages, trance, hypnagogia, and hypnosis. Although sleep, sleep walking, dreaming, delirium and coma may signal the presence of unconscious processes, these processes are not the unconscious mind. Science is in its infancy in exploring the limits of consciousness.
The idea of an unconscious mind originated in antiquity and has been explored across cultures. It was recorded between 2500 and 600 B.C in the Hindu texts known as the Vedas, found today in Ayurvedic medicine. In the Vedic worldview, consciousness is the basis of physiology and pure consciousness is “an abstract, silent, completely unified field of consciousness” within “an architecture of increasingly abstract, functionally integrated faculties or levels of mind”.
Paracelsus is credited as providing the first scientific mention of the unconscious in his work Von den Krankeiten (1567), and his clinical methodology created an entire system that is regarded as the beginning of modern scientific psychology. Shakespeare explored the role of the unconscious in many of his plays, without naming it as such. Western philosophers such as Spinoza, Leibniz, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, developed a western view of mind which foreshadowed those of Freud. Schopenhauer was also influenced by his reading of the Vedas.
Articulating the idea of something not conscious or actively denied to awareness with the symbolic constructs of language has been a process of human thought and interpersonal influence for millennia.
The resultant status of the unconscious mind may be viewed as a social construction – that the unconscious exists because people agree to behave as if it exists. Symbolic interactionism goes further and argues that people’s selves (conscious and unconscious) though purposeful and creative are nevertheless social products.
Unconscious processes and the unconscious mind
Neuroscience supports the proposition of the unconscious mind. For example, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have found that fleeting images of fearful faces – images that appear and disappear so quickly that they escape conscious awareness – produce unconscious anxiety that can be detected in the brain with the latest neuroimaging machines. The conscious mind is hundreds of milliseconds behind the unconscious processes.