Understanding the Unconscious

The unconscious is where most of the work of the mind gets done; it's the repository of automatic skills (riding a bike), the source of intuition and dreams, the engine of much information processing. Fleeting perceptions register on the unconscious mind long before we may be 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

Who Says Wanting Control is a Bad Thing?

Yet, when it comes to our bodies, wanting to feel in charge is completely normal. But as we age it becomes less likely that we can control our bodies.

Happy Pie

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on March 04, 2015 in One Among Many
Some say that 50% of happiness is due to genes, 10% to circumstance, and the rest to what you do. I want to believe that but can’t.

Make Choices Today That Will Help You Thrive Tomorrow

If you always give in to what feels best in the moment, it will be hard to ever have the life you really want.

Balancing Inhibition and Exhibition

By Gregg Levoy on March 03, 2015 in Passion!
The desire to keep your spark, your life-force, intact, will always have to contend with agents of decay and distraction. All the forces of resistance and inhibition, from within and without, that can rob you of your vitality if you let them. Here's how to referee that boxing match.

A Response to Sam Harris's Writings on Moral Truth Pt 2 of 3

By John A. Johnson Ph.D. on March 03, 2015 in Cui Bono
In August of 2013, Sam Harris issued a challenge to refute the central thesis of his book, The Moral Landscape. This thesis is that "questions of morality and values must have right and wrong answers that fall within the purview of science." This is part 2 of a 3-part post explaining why I agree with everything in his book except the central thesis.

Why You Should be More Grateful

By Neel Burton M.D. on March 01, 2015 in Hide and Seek
Despite its many benefits, gratitude is hard to cultivate.

Why We are all More Rational than Mr. Spock

By Eyal Winter on February 28, 2015 in Feeling Smart
Mr. Spock, Emotions, Super Rationality, Leonard Nimoy

Our Top-Down Brains and How They Help Us Adapt to the World

What you see is often not a matter of the stimuli that are in front of you, but a matter of your expectations. The “affair of the dress,” and whether you see it as white-gold or blue-black is just another example of our top-down brains.

On Art And Madness

By Sheila Kohler on February 27, 2015 in Dreaming for Freud
My mother would often warn me, “Now Sheila, you don’t want to be too clever for your own good.” Obviously she equated “cleverness” with something dangerous. She was much more interested in how people had reacted to my dress after a party, “Did they like your dress?” she would ask, rather than my report card.

Intimate Partner Abuse: Walk Away Before the Cycle Starts

We should never live in fear of the people who say they love us.

A Mother's Love: Myths, Misconceptions, and Truths

By Peg Streep on February 26, 2015 in Tech Support
Commonly held ideas about motherhood shape the dialogue we have culturally, get in the way of understanding parent-child conflict, and affect each of us individually by setting a high and sometimes impossible standard. Why it's time to banish some of the myths that animate the discussion and start a new conversation.

Red vs. Blue: Which Should You Choose?

By Jamie Madigan Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Mind Games
Has anyone ever done research on whether playing on the red team or the blue gives one a mental edge in games? Yep.

Some Things Get Better With Age

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on February 26, 2015 in Off the Couch
My ninety year old aunt complains that she does not have much energy anymore. She doesn’t like it that she can’t remember what day it is, or the names of new acquaintances. But when it comes to emotional advice, there’s no one better to ask. Research has shown that as we age, not all of our cognitive abilities are on a steady downward path.

5 Steps from Fear to Freedom

By Lissa Rankin M.D. on February 25, 2015 in Owning Pink
The journey from fear to freedom, which is all about coming into right relationship with uncertainty, is a predictable journey, one that many have traveled before you and many will travel after you.

Is Sadomasochism a Uniquely Human Form of Sexuality?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Animals and Us
From an evolutionary point of view, the enjoyment of pain would seem to be maladaptive. Is there an animal analog of finding sexual satisfaction in being whipped, poked with needles, or having hot wax dripped on your skin?

You Can't Be Mad at Your Mind - Part 2

By Elizabeth R Thornton on February 25, 2015 in The Objective Leader
How often do you do this? You have the power to do this less by learning to be more objective!

Personality Disorders Explained 2: Origins

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on February 24, 2015 in Feeling Our Way
Every cognitive map of the social world also defines a role for the person to play; a personality disorder implies a limited number of acceptable roles.

How to Encourage Non-Liberal Students in Psychology

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on February 23, 2015 in Rabble Rouser
How do you encourage non-liberal students to pursue careers in the social sciences? It is simple. Stop being hostile to them and their ideas. What a shock. If one creates an environment safe and supportive for all students, regardless of their politics, non-left students become interested in psychology.

There Is No Choice but to Trust

By Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. on February 23, 2015 in Am I Right?
Whenever we lie to a friend or don’t keep our word to colleagues or jump the line at the checkout counter, we undermine the very thing that makes life doable.

Who Was George Washington?

By Gregg Henriques on February 22, 2015 in Theory of Knowledge
An analysis of George Washington's character and relational strivings on what would have been his 283rd birthday.

How to Dream Like Salvador Dali

By Michelle Carr on February 20, 2015 in Dream Factory
A brief nap, less than a second long, can be used as a source of artistic inspiration and creative resolution.

Emotions As a Second Language - Or Should They Be Our First?

Emotional literacy is being able to feel and identify one’s feeling states. This fluency enhances emotional self-regulation, lessens over-reactivity to negative emotions such as anger, and is the basis of interpersonal emotional modulation.

How Old Is Language?

By Vyv Evans Ph.D. on February 19, 2015 in Language in the Mind
Can the time-depth of language be uncovered without a time-machine? Recent evidence, ranging from genetic dating, to new archaeological finds, is transforming what we know about language's vintage.

He Who Loves Will Be Conditioned to Show it

Love is not a disposition but it can occur below conscious awareness.

12 Ways to Spot a Misogynist

The misogynists. You may have heard of them. But what you may not know is that they can be anywhere around you. They are notoriously hard to spot. They do not come with a label attached to them, and they may even come across as woman lovers.

Can a First Language Be Totally Forgotten? II

By Francois Grosjean Ph.D. on February 18, 2015 in Life as a Bilingual
There is new evidence that a first language that is forgotten is still present in the brain. Neural representations acquired early in life do not seem to be overwritten and can be shown to be present if the right approach is used.

The New Pleasure Principle

By Gayil Nalls Ph.D. on February 17, 2015 in Sensoria
Looking at sexual practices through the lens of geosocial sexual networking apps.

Why We Remember What We Want to Remember

When public figures erroneously report on events that didn’t actually happen in their lives, the whole world knows about it. However, false memories are a common occurrence in everyone’s day-to-day thinking. Remembering what you want to remember may be more a matter of identity than of failing memory.

Body Language

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on February 17, 2015 in In Excess
Muscle Dysmorphia describes a condition characterised by a misconstrued body image in individuals interpret their body size as both small and weak even though they may look normal or even be highly muscular. But could it be classed as an addiction to body image?

Lincoln the Manipulator?

By Tim David on February 16, 2015 in The Magic of Human Connection
The Gettysburg Address. In just the first sentence alone, Lincoln delivers four distinct psychological strategies designed to persuade and influence his audience. Here are the four hidden "magic words" he placed there.