subconscious or unconscious

Subconscious or Unconscious difference

Subconscious or Unconscious. is there a difference?

Recently I have been revising some pages I have not looked at for a while. I noticed that sometimes I use the word 'subconscious' and sometimes I use 'unconscious'. I realized that I do not actually know when to use subconscious or unconscious. On looking into it, I discovered that no one else does either.

Consciousness is an emergent property

There are no shortages of definitions or prescriptions, but there appears to be as many different meanings for these words as there are people writing about them. Almost all of the meaning assigned is based on metaphor, or arguing by analogy. There appears to be virtually no scientific agreement on either term. The basic problem is that "consciousness" itself does not have a clear definition. If you dissect a brain you will not find "consciousness". Consciousness is an emergent property.

This is the same as your voice. You make the voice with your breath and the muscles of your throat. But you cannot investigate the voice itself. It is an emergent property. Your voice is not part of your body. In the same way, consciousness is not part of your brain. Therefore, trying to be exact about subconscious or unconscious is not possible. If you don't know what "consciousness" is, then you cannot really know what its opposite is.

According to Wikipedia, when used in general conversation the words subconscious or unconscious are interchangeable. You can use either of them to refer to the causes of behavior you are not aware of doing. For most purposes this is good enough.

Subconscious or unconscious

The term unconscious was introduced by Freud. He regarded the unconscious as a part of the mind in which primitive drives, demands, feelings and memories exist. The unconscious is different from the conscious because no amount of introspection, no amount of thinking, will allow you to access the contents of the unconscious. He believed that the contents of the unconscious could be hinted at through dreams, hypnosis or free association.

In psychology, the term subconscious is used to refer to whatever part of your consciousness you are not currently paying attention to. Psychologists today do not really accept Freud's view of the non-conscious part of the mind. Even the term "mind" is contentious and difficult to define. Modern psychology tends to avoid addressing or studying the "subconscious".

So the best technical definition would be at the unconscious is totally unknowable, while the subconscious is simply that part of the brain's normal function that you are not aware of at the moment, but which you can become aware of if you direct your attention to it.

David Mason

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