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

Sticky, Tricky, and Icky: Unconscious Parent-Child Dynamics

Emotional abandonment may manifest in parental coldness, but when the dynamic is operative, both parent and young child believe it is they who are internally, irreparably flawed.

Loving a Broken Body

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on August 13, 2017 in Obesely Speaking
I lost 290 pounds in six months by giving up rage, anger, humiliation, and suffering.

An Impactful Change You Can Successfully Make

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on August 11, 2017 in Full Living
You have a voice inside your head narrating your life and actions. Is it kind and supportive? Unless you have made a conscious effort, it is likely mean and hateful.

Diluting the Gold of Analysis

Not all psychotherapies are created equal.

Your Memories Make You Who You Are

Don't worry if can't remember the details of your first kiss that well. Your unconscious does it for you.

Your Marriage and Social Media: The Grass Isn't Greener

By Zack Carter Ph.D. on August 07, 2017 in Clear Communication
Do you compare your spouse with others' pictures when you're on social media? You may be inadvertently damaging your marriage. Here's why you need to stop the comparison game.

The Psychology of Experience in the Digital World

a single experience is made up of an infinite number of smaller experiences.
olegkalina/iStock

For, Not Against

By Matt James Ph.D. on August 02, 2017 in Focus on Forgiveness
Tired of all the negativity and contentiousness? Learn how to use "toward" motivation to be healthier and achieve your goals.

How Good Is Your Autopilot?

By Ira Hyman Ph.D. on July 30, 2017 in Mental Mishaps
Have you used autopilot when driving? I don’t mean a self-driving car; I mean those times when you space out for a moment, your mind wanders, and your autopilot keeps you moving.

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 12

By Michael Jawer on July 30, 2017 in Feeling Too Much
A life-threatening emergency can, in some cases, produce a veritable distress signal that communicates what is being experienced, physiologically and/or emotionally.

Sidestepping Into Addiction

By Holly Parker, Ph.D. on July 24, 2017 in Your Future Self
On the face of things, doesn’t it just seem like the answer to disagreeable feelings is to run for cover in our bat cave, where they can’t pester us anymore?

52 Ways to Show I Love You: See a Different Point of View

Our appreciation of ways in which thoughts can affect feelings and behaviors has evolved. It allows us to show love through appreciating each other's point of view.

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 11

By Michael Jawer on July 22, 2017 in Feeling Too Much
Some dreams can serve as a virtual x-ray, indicating what’s happening in the body. The process illustrates how life-threatening trauma may generate its own distress signals.
David Hellerstein

Unlocking the Unconscious: 30 Years Later

Thirty years ago Short Term Dynamic Therapy was poised to take over the world of psychotherapy. What happened?

Why Brilliant Girls Tend to Favor Non-STEM Careers

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on July 20, 2017 in Rabble Rouser
If there are bona fide gender differences in preferences and interests, equal opportunities may never translate into equal outcomes.

Is It Narcissism or Sociopathy?

By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. on July 19, 2017 in Evil Deeds
What is the nexus between narcissistic and antisocial personality?

Does the Unconscious Really Exist?

By David B. Feldman Ph.D. on July 17, 2017 in Supersurvivors
One of the oldest ideas in psychology is that we have an unconscious mind that, despite our best intentions, is the real controlling force in our lives. But is this really true?

Can Talking Cure? And If so, How?

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on July 12, 2017 in Insight Therapy
What we talk about when we talk about talk therapy.

5 Paradoxical Ways to Capture the Elusive Art of Creativity

Have you ever wondered how you can change your brain and lifestyle to be more creative?

Can Our Anger Be Explained by Global Brain Vulnerabilities?

Is it possible that our angry world reflects changing anger thresholds in our brains?

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.