Understanding the Unconscious

The unconscious is where most of the work of the mind gets done; it's the repository of automatic skills, the source of intuition and dreams, and an engine of information processing. Fleeting perceptions may register in the unconscious mind long before are aware of them.

The unconscious mind is not some black hole of unacceptable impulses waiting to trip you up, but it can be the source of hidden beliefs, fears, and attitudes that interfere with everyday life. Most forms of psychotherapy aim to bring into conscious awareness many of these hidden hindrances, so that we can examine them and choose how to deal with them.

Recent posts on Unconscious

A Farewell to Reality? Illusion in the 2016 Election

By Brenda Berger Ph.D. on December 04, 2016 in Hearts and Minds
Are you still shocked and confused about the results of the presidential election? Here are some thoughts about what might have been behind the outcome.

The Wizard of Oz

By Abigail Brenner M.D. on November 29, 2016 in In Flux
This beloved story is one of self-discovery and transformation. Every time we venture forward into unknown territory we change, transforming into a fuller expression of ourselves.

Can People Overcome Their Implicit Biases?

Vice President-Elect Mike Pence probably underestimates the pervasiveness and the near inevitability of implicit bias.

What Stress Can Do to You: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another." — William James

Linda The Bank Teller Case Revisited

The skill of providing answers on the basis of the meaning that is literally given to us is not typically a useful skill.

8 Ways to Trigger Lucid Dreaming

Ever wonder how you could induce a lucid dream? Here are 8 techniques supported by research.

The Technology of Dreaming in "Falling Water"

"Falling Water," new on the USA Network, goes further than any other television show in exploring the multiple dimensions of dreaming latent within the human mind.

Memory for Chaos

A hallmark of experts is that they recall domain-specific meaningful material better than non-experts. A new study shows that this superiority extends to meaningless material.

Harvard Study Decrypts the Ancient Mystery of Consciousness

By Christopher Bergland on November 05, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
In a groundbreaking new study, neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School may have unearthed the seat of human consciousness.
photo by pixabay

Tap Into Your Conscious Mind

By Matt James Ph.D. on November 04, 2016 in Focus on Forgiveness
Create a habit of healthy conscious thinking in just 10 minutes per day. Exercise and stretch your conscious mind.

Freud: Conservative Revolutionary

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on November 03, 2016 in This Is America
Sigmund Freud was a product of his time. In a new biography, Élisabeth Roudinesco assesses Freud's ideas about rationality, sexuality, and the unconscious.

Why Politics Makes People Crazy

Political alliances help us meet social needs, which stimulates our happy chemicals. But your survival-seeking brain sees political disappointments as survival threats.

Is Facebook the New Rorschach?

While Facebook is certainly not a valid and reliable projective testing instrument used by psychologists, it is a projective test nonetheless.

Depersonalization as Philosophical Awareness

By Elena Bezzubova on October 31, 2016 in The Search for Self
Depersonalization can appear as a "philosophical splinter in my head.”. Feeling unreal awakes philosophical awareness and pondering about world, self, consciousness and reality.

Is There a Physical Basis to the Notion of "Spirit"?

By Liane Gabora Ph.D. on October 26, 2016 in Mindbloggling
The feeling bears leave you with has little to do with how smart they are, or their demeanor. It’s more a sense of the essential life force they emanate from, corny as that sounds.
Pixabay are released under Creative Commons CC0

Why Is It Impossible to Not Judge People?

It is impossible to meet someone and make zero internal judgments about them. Just like it is impossible to look at a word and not read it.

Psychosis and the Creation of Poetry

By Albert Rothenberg on October 22, 2016 in Creative Explorations
Poetry creation is often thought to result from the upsurge of unconscious process. As characteristic of schizophrenic thinking, such upsurge must be molded by creative cognition.

The Impact of Death on our Everyday Lives

Defensive reactions to personal trauma, separation issues, and especially death anxiety impact our lives at three distinct levels.

Eye Rolls, Shrugs, and Why Trump Is So Provocative

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on October 03, 2016 in Full Living
Some folks have a knack for riling us up. It isn't magic.

Breakthrough Moments in Therapy: A Vignette

By Jean Kim M.D. on September 30, 2016 in Culture Shrink
Psychotherapy can be as delicate and dangerous as neurosurgery, sifting through psychic pain to find the mass within.

Trust Your Gut—There's Nothing Woo-Woo About the Vagus Nerve

By Christopher Bergland on September 23, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
A new study found that financial traders who trust their gut feelings and have grace under pressure are more successful. What is the physiological explanation for this phenomenon?

View Concussion as a “Brain Sprain”

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on September 20, 2016 in Brain Trauma
Defining concussions gets a variety of answers, so neurologist Harry Kerasidis outlines the brain injury and symptoms, by comparing it to the common ankle sprain.

Outta Control: Trump, Critics, and Circumcising Mosquitoes

By Gregg R. Murray Ph.D. on September 11, 2016 in Caveman Politics
We need some "mosquito surgery" in this year's presidential election. Calling all male mosquitoes.

Can Hollywood Shift Unconscious Bias?

By Tiffany McLain LMFT on September 08, 2016 in Living Between Worlds
Film and television often serves to reinforce racial stereotypes. But what if media was used to challenge our unconscious bias?

To See Ourselves as Others See Us

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on September 06, 2016 in A Sideways View
Have you completed a JoHari Window? How easy is it for other people to get to know you? Do you really have self-insight into your strengths and weaknesses
photo from pixabay

React vs Respond

By Matt James Ph.D. on September 01, 2016 in Focus on Forgiveness
A reaction and a response may look exactly alike. But they aren't the same. Which would you prefer to have?

A Better Way to Read People, and Trust That You're Right

Your body can be a better tuning fork for determining other peoples’ emotions than your mind.

Are Animals Conscious?

Are animals conscious? The implications are important.

Why Theological Waywardness Is Inevitable

Natural penchants of mind, such as anthropomorphism, dispose people to think about gods in ways that often conflict with their religions' doctrines.

Exploring Our Own Stereotypes and Biases

It is natural to want to deny our own biases, but trying to suppress negative thoughts doesn’t work. The good news is that you can have thoughts without being guided by them.