People are like an iceberg, everything we really are … it is not seen at first glance. According to the psychoanalytic theory of personality according to Freud, the unconscious mind is a collection of feelings, thoughts, impulses and memories that are outside the known consciousness. According to Freud, many of these contents of the unconscious are unpleasant, such as anxiety or pain. The unconscious includes in people’s behavior despite not being aware of these influences on ourselves.

What’s under the tip of the iceberg

To better understand the unconscious mind, it is a good idea to compare it to an iceberg, everything that is above the sea represents consciousness and what is not seen, what remains under the water would be the unconscious.

Only a small part of that iceberg is visible above the water, and what is not seen is a large amount of ice that makes up most of the iceberg … because it is submerged in the cold sea. Your consciousness is therefore the tip of the iceberg, and your unconscious … everything else. According to Freud, many of people’s feelings, desires and emotions are repressed or kept out of consciousness. This occurs because at first they feel like too threatening for the emotional well-being of the person. Freud thought that sometimes these wishes are hidden and made known through dreams or unconscious phrases that are said almost without thinking.

According to Freud, the most basic instincts and impulses were also contained within the unconscious mind (sexual instincts, aggressions, etc.). These impulses are kept out of consciousness because the conscious mind regards them as unacceptable or irrational. Freud maintained that people use internal defense mechanisms to prevent the unconscious mind from becoming conscious.

The unconscious mind can take consciousness

There are different ways that the unconscious mind can get to the conscious mind. These ways are as follows:

    • Free association. Become aware of unconscious feelings with free association. Freud asked his patients to relax and say whatever came to mind regardless of how trivial, irrelevant, or embarrassing it might be. By following these streams of thought, Freud believed that he could discover the contents of the unconscious mind where repressed desires and painful childhood memories existed.
  • Dream interpretation. Freud also suggested that dreams were another route to the unconscious. While information from the unconscious mind can sometimes appear in dreams, he believed that it was often in disguise. Dream interpretation often involves examining the literal content of a dream (known as the manifest content) to try to discover the hidden and unconscious meaning of the dream (the latent content). Freud also believed that dreams were a form of wish fulfillment. Because these unconscious impulses could not be expressed in waking life, he believed that they found expression in dreams .

You criticize Freud’s theories of the unconscious

The very idea of ​​the existence of the unconscious has not been without controversy.  It has gotten many criticisms about it and the dispute that there is actually a continuous unconscious mind in force today. More recently, in the field of cognitive psychology, researchers have focused on automatic and implicit functions to describe things that were previously attributed to the unconscious. According to this approach, there are many cognitive functions that take place outside of our consciousness. This research may not support Freud’s conceptualization of the unconscious mind, but it does offer evidence that things that we are not aware of can have an influence on our behaviors.

Unlike early psychoanalytic approaches to the unconscious, research in the field of cognitive psychology is based on scientific research and empirical data that support the existence of these automatic cognitive processes . 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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