Eng. 102 sec#3017 E2
26 February 2013
Understanding the Personal Unconscious
Below the waterline of the conscious mind dwells the unconscious. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the unconscious as, “the part of the mind that is inaccessible to the conscious mind but which affects behavior and emotions”. People should hold a higher understanding of their unconscious so they can understand themselves more fully. According to Sigmund Freud, the unconscious contains repressed thoughts and memories, motivations, and thought processes, which are not accessible to the conscious mind (Hockenbury 462). Even though one is not fully aware of the unconscious, unconscious thoughts affect an individual’s emotions and behavior. An individual is able to consciously access the unconscious by reaching a state of near consciousness, and by doing so, is even able to address previously unknown issues through acceptance and expression.
The unconscious is the septic tank of the mind, where suppressed thoughts, traumatic memories, as well as desires lie. These thoughts make up a large portion of an individuals personality, even though they may not even be aware of it. Underneath all of ones conscious desires and goals, lies many much more sinister desires that the conscious expends a great deal of energy suppressing. For example, Freud explained that the developing frontal lobe represses the natural infatuation one has with their parent of the opposite sex (Freud 483). These thoughts are believed to be repressed by the newfound morals and judgments adopted from ones environment (Freud 483). Repressing unconscious thoughts can lead to neurosis, an excessive and irrational anxiety or obsession, which can cause psychological and even physiological symptoms.
The conscious mind, also known as the ego, undergoes constant conflict with the unconscious. When the ego is overwhelmed by the demands of the unconscious, the end result is anxiety. The ego may attempt to reduce anxiety by distorting thoughts or perceptions of reality, these attempts are known as ego defense mechanisms, the ten major ego defense mechanisms being; repression, displacement, sublimation, rationalization, projection, reaction formation, denial, undoing, and regression (Hockenbury 464-5). Most people are not aware of the impact that these defense mechanisms have on their conscious mind and physical body. By understanding these defense mechanisms and what causes them, an individual is able to cope more effectively with their anxiety.
When in a state of near consciousness, an individual is able to consciously acknowledge their unconscious mind. A person can reach this state of near consciousness through the acts of meditation, hypnotism, psychoactive chemicals, or dreaming. Dreaming is the self-expression of the unconscious through symbolism and emotion, and is also the most accessible method for reaching a state of near consciousness. By interpreting the symbols and feelings conveyed through ones dreams, it is possible to grasp a rough concept of ones unconscious mind.
To truly understand oneself, an individual must truly be aware of their unconscious. Repressed thoughts, desires, fears, and memories, are buried beneath the conscious mind in the unconscious. These thoughts effect the emotions and behavior of an individual even though they are not consciously aware of them. One is able to access these thoughts by reaching a state of near consciousness, and by doing so understanding the very source of their mental and even physical woes. The unconscious is the very core of ones being, and thus their true self.
Hockenbury, Don H., and Sandra E. Hockenbury. Psychology. New York, NY: Worth, 2010.
Freud, Sigmund. The Oedipus Complex. 1953. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College
Writers. By Lee A. Jacobus. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. 478-84. Print.
"unconscious". Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford
University Press. 04 March 2013