The Conscious Mind is a complex concept, but it generally refers to everything that we are aware of in regards to our existence.
Defining the mind, and explaining its elements is something that has perplexed philosophers since the dawn of civilisation.
In terms of mental health, the conscious mind is very important, and is linked to mental illness – which affects so many people.
One prominent theory put forward by Sigmund Freud – the celebrated psychologist – suggests that the conscious mind is one of three parts of the mind.
The idea is that what we think about, the way we analyse something, or deciding a course of action all relate to the conscious mind. The unconscious mind and the preconscious mind are the other areas of the mind in Freud’s theory.
We have an article that provides an overview and explores the differences of these three levels of the mind, as well as looking at how areas in the unconscious mind can reach the conscious mind.
Freud’s Mind Analogy
Freud used an iceberg to explain his theory of the mind. He explained that when a person sees an iceberg, all that is visible to them is whatever is above the water. Anything underwater cannot be seen.
Freud argued that this is like the human mind. The tip of the iceberg refers to the conscious mind, with the remainder of the iceberg out of view under the water – which refers to the unconscious mind.
One is never truly aware of how much of the iceberg is out of view – the unconscious mind may be very, very deep.
The other area is the middle-ground of the two – and known as the preconscious. It is the part of the iceberg that is mainly submerged below the water, yet still visible from above.
The Conscious Mind
It appears that all manner of elements make up the conscious mind – which is unsurprising given the complexities of the human mind.
You could think about how all of our knowledge, things we automatically do and say, are all in our conscious mind. We are aware of it all.
Freud suggests though that as a defence mechanism, that a person will often block out traumatic feelings, thoughts or experiences. These repressed areas are consequently located in the unconscious.
But a person will continue to be affected by these experiences. Freud’s theory proposes that most mental health conditions can be accredited to these repressed feelings.
Therefore, to help treat mental disturbances, it is important to access the unconscious mind. Freud pioneered talking therapy, which would help achieve this – using his theory of Psychoanalysis.
How does the unconscious become conscious?
Freud suggested that there were certain ways that the unconscious can become conscious. Freud argued that certain techniques could be used through therapy to achieve this.
- Word association: Where a person freely talks their mind can lead to themes and patterns identified by a therapist.
- Freudian slips: Also known as “Slips of the tongue”, these are very important to note and look out for, as they could be the feelings and thoughts that a person truly has – yet is consciously unaware of.
- Dream analysis: The idea that dreams can be analysed in a way that uncovers feelings and desires of the unconscious.
We have an article that explores these techniques in more detail here.
In the modern age, the two main therapies that use these techniques are Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
The Conscious mind is an interesting idea, and one that has caused significant debate for hundreds of years. Agreeing on how the mind works is difficult!
The importance of a person processing past traumas cannot be understated in mental health, but it is unknown if Freud’s theory is an accurate depiction of what actually happens.
- Overview of Sigmund Freud’s Theories
- Freud’s Theory of the Unconscious, Conscious and Preconscious Minds in Mental Health
- What is the Unconscious Mind in Mental Health?
- What is the Preconscious Mind in Mental Health?
- What is the Conscious Mind in Mental Health?
- What is the Difference Between The Unconscious and Conscious Mind in Mental Health?
- How Can You Reach the Unconscious Mind in Mental Health Therapy?
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