It’s one of the oldest ideas in psychology. Humans have a subconscious mind, which is to store and retrieve data. It ensures that you respond exactly the way you should do is its main mission. Your subconscious mind makes everything you say and do fit a pattern consistent with your self-concept, your “master program.”
Could such a subconscious mind really exist?
To answer this question, we need to consider what means by the “subconscious mind”. The famous Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud who introduced the 3 level mind model was the one who developed and extensively studied the idea of deeper levels of information processing. According to his model, we can divide the mind into the following levels: conscious, subconscious, and unconscious. In which, subconscious specifically defines all reactions and automatic actions we can become aware of if we think about them.
Let’s step back and ask what it means for something to “exist”. How do you know it exists or not when you can’t touch it? You infer its existence and make a model of the world more parsimonious with that thing in it than not.
Or think about our ability to ride a bike, once we are familiar with it, we would stop thinking about how to balance, how to pedal, yet can always become aware of what was done once we think about it.
As a result, it turns out that people routinely report doing things, knowing that they did them, having clear evidence that they did them, but not understanding why. We all have dreams, these abnormal phenomena which seem to come from nowhere, these carnival shows put on for a confused audience of one.
The subconscious mind does exist, both on the individual and collective scale
During deep sleep(NREM), it is only subconscious, which exists in an individual.
As you wake up, in presence of waking consciousness, this subconscious psychic stuff, gets illuminated by our average waking consciousness. In other words, a small area of the subconscious comes under consciousness, which is called the conscious mind, and the rest of the area is still known as the subconscious.
Before we move ahead, it is interesting to note that, our average waking consciousness is gifted by nature. This is observed nearly equal amongst all waking human beings.
A man enjoys free will/freedom, derived out of this average waking consciousness and he is left free to grow his consciousness to higher consciousness, by conscious efforts. If he raises his consciousness, he raises his conscious mind area in its strength/field, and accordingly, his subconscious will narrow. If a man raises his consciousness 100%, he will have a 100% conscious mind and reciprocal, 0% subconscious mind. This is the phenomenon of enlightenment.
Scientific Detection of the Subconscious Mind
To untangle how one level of thought influences others, scientists must be able to detect different depths of the mind. A recent psychological study showed how irrelevant cues shape learning. They suggested that the effect of conscious, subconscious, and unconscious thoughts can be modeled varying presentation times of emotional faces.
In this experiment, we set the participants with a set of pictures of human faces. They have to determine whether the facial expression in a previous picture mimicked the same emotion. This way, research demonstrated a clear differentiation of conscious and unconscious influence of thoughts. This is people were only able to give error-free answers if the picture could reach the level of conscious awareness. Surprisingly, the duration of pictures, shown for as long as 0.027s – 0.033s, couldn’t be sufficient for stimulus verbalization at the level of conscious awareness, yet had a measurable influence on behavior. Specifically, the rate of correct responses decreased just by half, meaning that participants were still partially able to provide correct responses and indicate the presence of the subconscious mind.
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