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The Conscious and Unconscious mind

Conscious and Uncounscious

There are differing theories of what the (total) human mind comprises.
In one of its simplest forms, there are three parts to our mind.

The conscious, preconscious, and unconscious.

Note: No one has seen the conscious or unconscious mind. Researchers only observe areas of the brain light up on a screen when thinking takes place. 

The iceberg diagram is a visual representation of the conscious, pre-conscious, and ‘hidden’ unconscious. The unconscious is considered larger the conscious (and pre-conscious) mind. i.e. The greater part of our mind is beneath the surface.

We are emotional beings, and even the most ‘logical’ or objective of us, is influenced knowingly or unknowingly by instincts, emotions and feelings.

Model of Conscious and Uncounscious mind

Note: The unconscious mind contains instincts, and both positive and negative forgotten memories, with their emotions and feelings.
Therefore it can be a source of: guidance, intuition, wisdom, spontaneity and great creativity – not just issues.

The Unconscious Mind

The unconscious mind is a repository of processes that are deep and not readily accessible. Yet has a more powerful effect on our thoughts and actions than do the conscious and preconscious. It holds within it, our instincts, forgotten information, and repressed memories from our childhood and later.
If the repressed memories are negative, they may give rise to the issues we seek counselling for. These memories are there because they are too unpleasant or threatening, and so are not in our awareness. see Transpersonal counselling.

The conscious or thinking processes are influenced by the unconscious, at times to the to the extent that it can control or take them over. When this happens it can make us act in uncharacteristic, unexplained and on later reflection in undesireable ways. e.g. Anxiety attacks, unexpected outbursts. It can also influence in the longer term. e,g, panic attacks, self-esteem issues, imagined fears and blocks which prevent us from achieving.

In these situations,Transpersonal counselling sees the unconscious as attempting to protect the us from imagined harm, due to past traumatic and threatening or unpleasant experiences, held in the repressed memories. Counselling reframes these memories in the unconscious, to create a more balanced perspective so the issues can resolve.  see also Trauma/Shame/Guilt.

It is not all bad news – to the contrary – The unconscious is also a source or contributor to our imagination and creativity. Creativity in all areas, whether, the arts, professions or trades, and everyday activities. It provides us with dreams when asleep, flashes of insight, as well as where our passion and direction in life may lie. It is connected with intuition, motivation and decisions.

Awareness of the unconscious, allows us to recognise its influence and interact consciously, with what it has to contribute.

In mythological and symbolic terms, the unconscous is the unknown territory where we can discover our inner demons (to meet and bring healing), and also meet our wise muses (inspiration).

The Preconscious mind

The pre-conscious mind contains thoughts and feelings just below awareness, but which can be called upon when needed. An example is remembering someone’s name when we see them, but not thinking about it until then. In an even simpler model, the preconscious is included as part of the unconscious.

The Conscious Mind

The conscious or cognitive mind or ego is the mental processes of which we are aware. It contains the thought processes we use to read, plan, carry out actions, and how we navigate our way in an aware manner. It controls the image of ourselves we present to society.

The conscious (cognitive) mind is ‘blind’ to the unconscious.

Therefore depending how aware a person is, they may or may not understand or recognise its influence on their feelings, decisions and actions.