The Preconscious Mind is an element within Sigmund Freud’s well-known theory of the mind. It is an important area.

The theory suggests the mind consists of three parts. The unconscious and the conscious mind are the two most well-known areas, though the preconscious mind is also an important part.

The preconscious mind forms part of Freud’s theory on the mind


In simple terms, the preconscious mind refers to the part of the mind that contains information that a person doesn’t always actively think about – though given a trigger, a person will be able to recall the information.

A good example would be a password to an online site, or a pin number. During everyday tasks, a person won’t be actively thinking about a password for a website, but when they come to using said website, they will then think about it.

As mentioned, the other areas of the mind are the Conscious and Unconscious minds. You can read about the differences of these three levels of the mind by reading our article here.

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.

A visual representation of the levels of the mind in terms of an iceberg

The scale of the preconscious mind

The preconscious mind clearly is an amazing thing to have. Past memories – whether happy or sad – are stored, along with strange trivia, passwords and any other relevant information.

Trying to even comprehend the mind is difficult, given its incredible complexities. If you stop and try and think about things you know about, but aren’t actively thinking of, the possibilities are likely endless! It’s crazy to think about how much we know!

The preconscious mind’s role in mental health

In terms of mental health, the preconscious mind plays an important role. A therapist that is trained professionally in psychoanalysis may be able to use various techniques to extract information from the unconscious mind into the conscious mind.

The preconscious mind can act as somewhat of a buffer to the conscious mind, and keep out irrelevant information.

Certain pieces of information or experiences revealed during therapy can often provide insight into deeper feelings – including those that have been blocked out by a person.

This can help an individual overcome these issues during talking therapy. As a person will typically then have past experiences in their conscious mind, they will know the impact of certain stimuli.

While Freud made the distinction between the preconscious and the unconscious parts of the mind, others have suggested that there may not be any difference between them.


While the preconscious mind isn’t as well-known as the conscious and unconscious mind, it still plays an important role in brain function.

In order to build this theory, Freud continued work done by Josef Breuer – whom Freud was the protégé of – with the theory since becoming very well-known.

See Also


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