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

Is Implicit Bias a Useful Scientific Concept?

Fewer people than ever before say they are racially prejudiced, yet racial disparities persist. Is implicit bias a viable scientific explanation?
istock photo

Hypnotherapy and Its Benefits for Autoimmune Disease

How you too can manage pain without medication and use hypnotherapy to manage many Autoimmune Disease symptoms.

What’s “Emotional Reasoning”—And Why Is It Such a Problem?

One of the most baffling psychological problems is to acutely feel the reality of something without its having any basis in fact. Here are some examples...

Hey, New Dads: Having Scary Thoughts Is Common

This Father's Day, let's challenge the most pervasive fantasy of all time — that fathers don’t need emotional support.
Perri Corvino/Used with permission

Hidden Bias and Racism

A social worker shares his struggle with unconscious attitudes. By Stephen Friedman, LCSW

The Difference Between Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

There are so many different types of psychotherapy. How do I tell the difference and find an approach that is right for me?

What Obesity and Interpersonal Conflict Have in Common

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on June 13, 2017 in The Squeaky Wheel
Our most basic physical activity impacts our mind in surprising ways.

When Fantasies Lead You Down the Wrong Path

By Amy Fries on June 09, 2017 in The Power of Daydreaming
If we don’t take a step back periodically and become conscious of the fantasies that fuel us, we can find ourselves ferociously marching down the wrong path.

The Unconscious Mind in Everyday Life

How does the unconscious influence why you do the things you do?

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 6

By Michael Jawer on June 04, 2017 in Feeling Too Much
Many creatures are known to become agitated before natural disasters. Emotional information – warnings – may be what they’re able to derive through infrasound or other means.
CC0 Public Domain

Projection: How We See Ourselves in the Outer World

We like to think we are in touch with objective reality. We could all benefit from looking at our how we project aspects of our inner selves onto the outer world.

Couples Who Fight as a "Way of Life"

By Susan Rako M.D. on June 03, 2017 in More Light
"Some couples get a lot of love out of fighting like hell for years." -- Elvin Semrad

Dating Asian-American Men

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on June 02, 2017 in Minority Report
Asian men rank lowest in terms of online desirability and part of the problem is...

This Is What Happens to Your Brain When You Fail

By Caroline Beaton on May 25, 2017 in The Gen-Y Guide
Not only is this kind of failure spiral common; it's biological.
Paul Nunez

What Makes the Human Brain “Human?” Part 2

How do “small world” connections contribute to brain complexity and a healthy mind?

Costly Curves

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on May 25, 2017 in Consumed
The thin ideal turns big people into big spenders.

Is Kinkphobia a Crisis in the Mental Health Field?

Qualitative studies show that kinkphobia is a pernicious and pervasive problem within the mental health field.
Inner City Books, used with permission

Jungian Analyst Marion Woodman on the American Psyche

By Pythia Peay on May 18, 2017 in America On The Couch
Your ancestors went through the anguish of breaking with their mother country [Britain], even fighting and killing the soldiers of “the mother.” Marion Woodman

The Personal Erotic Myth and the Rise of Fetishsexuality

A new sexual concept paves the way in understanding the role of the unconscious and psyche in exploring authentic sexuality.

Our Secret Life in Bathrooms

By Toby Israel Ph.D. on May 10, 2017 in Design on My Mind
The bathroom can conjure up images of birth, of the beginning, of water which we must cross, of water in which we may be purified: The bathroom of the hero/ine's journey.

What Millennials Learned About Bias From This Harvard Test

There's a lot we can all learn about the conscious and unconscious influencers of bias. Here's one way some people are becoming more aware.

52 Ways to Show I Love You: Honoring the Self

Honoring the self is an essential way we can show love to others. When we listen to our bodies, stream of consciousness, dreams, impulses and analyses, we have roadmaps to loving.

Psychodynamically Informed Clinical Work

A psychodynamic perspective can enhance and individualize non-analytic treatment — even "med checks."

Psychoanalysis? Is That Still Around?

Celebrating Sigmund Freud's birthday by honoring the profession he created.

Are Accusations of Cultural Appropriation Misguided?

By Liane Gabora Ph.D. on April 29, 2017 in Mindbloggling
When Newton said he saw further by standing on the shoulders of giants what mattered was that he assimilated these 'giants' ideas perhaps more deeply than their own biological kin.

The Hidden Tug of Marketing

By Holly Parker, Ph.D. on April 27, 2017 in Your Future Self
Thanks to diligent research, marketers know how to pull our strings while we don’t have a clue it’s happening.

To Affirm or Not Affirm?

By Leena S. Guptha DO on April 25, 2017 in Embodied Wellness
Struggling with negative thoughts? Use self-affirmations to rewrite the subconscious mind and start thinking positively!

If People Only Knew

So many of us fear what we - and others - will find at our core. Why is there such an epidemic of shame in our culture?

It's Not the Glass That's Half Full/Empty; It's the Breast

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on April 25, 2017 in Full Living
We judge others as dispositioned towards negativity or positivity, scarcity or abundance, as a chosen disposition. In truth, that disposition gets set in infancy.

The Dreams of a Religious Cult Member

What can a thirty-year long dream journal reveal about the life of an ex-member of a religious cult?