The unconscious mind (or the unconscious) consists of the processes in the mind which occur automatically and are not available to introspection, and include thought processes, memories, interests, and motivations.
Even though these processes exist well under the surface of conscious awareness they are theorized to exert an impact on behavior. The term was coined by the 18th-century German Romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Empirical evidence suggests that unconscious phenomena include repressed feelings, automatic skills, subliminal perceptions, thoughts, habits, and automatic reactions, and possibly also complexes; hidden phobias and desires.
The concept was popularized by the Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. In psychoanalytic theory, unconscious processes are understood to be directly represented in dreams, as well as in slips of the tongue and jokes.
Thus the unconscious mind can be seen as the source of dreams and automatic thoughts (those that appear without any apparent cause), the repository of forgotten memories (that may still be accessible to consciousness at some later time), and the locus of implicit knowledge (the things that we have learned so well that we do them without thinking).
It has been argued that consciousness is influenced by other parts of the mind. These include unconsciousness as a personal habit, being unaware, and intuition. Phenomena related to semi-consciousness include awakening, implicit memory, subliminal messages,trances, hypnagogia, and hypnosis. While sleep, sleepwalking, dreaming, delirium, and comas may signal the presence of unconscious processes, these processes are seen as symptoms rather than the unconscious mind itself.
Some critics have doubted the existence of the unconscious.
Understanding the Unconscious
The unconscious is where most of the work of the mind gets done; it's the repository of automatic skills (such as riding a bike), the source of intuition and dreams, the engine of much information processing. Fleeting perceptions register in 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.
Unconscious - adjective
- not conscious; without awareness, sensation, or cognition.
- temporarily devoid of consciousness.
- not perceived at the level of awareness; occurring below the level of conscious thought: an unconscious impulse.
- not consciously realized, planned, or done; without conscious volition or intent: an unconscious social slight.
- not endowed with mental faculties: the unconscious stones.