Psychology is a fairly young science, but of so much important in our lives if we want to be balanced and well adjusted. Psychology seeks to understand the laws and processes that underlie behavior, cognition, and emotion.
It is thought that only 5% of our brain function is conscious, the rest resides in an area we call our subconscious and unconscious. Why do you think advertisers spend so much money on making ads? They have found out how to manipulate our desires and actions at these levels below awareness, making them a profit.
Sigmund Freud delineated the mind in the distinct levels, each with their own roles and functions:
- The preconscious consists of anything that could potentially be brought into the conscious mind.
- The conscious mind contains all of the thoughts, memories, feelings, and wishes of which we are aware at any given moment. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally. This also includes our memory, which is not always part of consciousness but can be retrieved easily and brought into awareness.
- The unconscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict.
Freud likened the three levels of mind to an iceberg. The top of the iceberg that you can see above the water represents the conscious mind.
The part of the iceberg that is submerged below the water but is still visible is the preconscious. The bulk of the iceberg that lies unseen beneath the waterline represents the unconscious.
Your subconscious mind is like a huge memory bank. Its capacity is virtually unlimited. It permanently stores everything that ever happens to you.By the time you reach the age of 21, you’ve already permanently stored more than one hundred times the contents of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.Under hypnosis, older people can often remember, with perfect clarity, events from fifty years before. Your unconscious memory is virtually perfect. It is your conscious recall that is suspect.
he function of your subconscious mind is to store and retrieve data.Its job is to ensure that you respond exactly the way you are programmed. Your subconscious mind makes everything you say and do fit a pattern consistent with your self-concept. This is your “Master Program.”
It tends to keep you thinking and acting in a manner consistent with what you have done and said in the past, to keep you in your comfort zone. But you can train you conscious mind to instruct the subconscious to go out of its patterns and comfort zones so that you can change and grow.
It is often hard to access what is in the unconscious. One way is what is called a Freudian slip or a slip of the tongue. When speaking of your wife, you may be accident say your old girlfriend’s name. This is thought not to just be an accident, but a psychological link between the two in your unconscious.
Dreams are an amazing way to find out what is in areas not normally accessible to the conscious mind. It is good to train yourself to record the dreams that you remember when you awaken, especially if you conscious mind finds them distasteful or strange. It is in a language that is unfamiliar with the conscious mind, but is still part of us.
Carl Jung proposed the idea of the collective unconscious. His theory was that it is made up of a collection of knowledge and imagery that every person is born with and is shared by all human beings due to ancestral experience. For instance many children have a fear of snakes, even in places that snakes don’t live.
Jung believed that the collective unconscious is made up of instincts and archetypes that manifest basic and fundamental pre-existing images, symbols or forms, which are repressed by the conscious mind. Humans may not consciously know of these archetypes, but they hold strong feelings about them.
Some examples of archetypes that Jung proposed include: The mother, Birth. Death. Rebirth, The anima, Power. The hero and The child
Freud postulated that we have 3 structures of our self. The id which is primary and contains a seething cauldron of desire, such as sexual desire and aggression. Then we have the super ego, which is like our downloading the image of our parents voice as a conscience that says “thou shalt not”. This is also called introjection, where we take on the images and feelings of others into ourselves and make them part of us. Then we have the ego, the constructed conscious self that tries to balance all these parts of ourself into a seeming whole complete person..the me.
You may have heard the terms suppression and repression. The main difference is that while the suppression involves denying the impulses at a conscious level, repression involves denying impulses at a subconscious level. In suppression, one is aware of those impulses, whereas in repression, one might not even be aware of these.
Jung spoke on the concept of the shadow, where all the parts we repress becomes a part of ourselves which our conscious self would deny, but is in fact a subconscious personality. So when we find out that the televangelist went to a prostitute, it is the unconscious drives of his id, shadow and repressed sexuality in his shadow that made him do it. He may even project this outward and say the devil made him do it.
So projection is when we project what is hidden within us onto the outer world and other people. Often couples, fall in love and project the ideal image and fantasies onto the other. After a while, this doesn’t hold, then they can project all their negative unconscious feelings, often about their opposite sexed parent, onto the partner. And magically intense love is transformed into total antipathy.
There is a type of projection that occurs when working with a therapist called transference. You start projecting people from your past onto the psychologist. If he or she reminds you of someone that was trustworthy from your past, then you will trust the therapist even more.
Neurosis is a mental disorder that causes a sense of distress and deficit in functioning. Neuroses are characterized by anxiety, depression, or other feelings of unhappiness or distress that are out of proportion to the circumstances of a person’s life.
These are seen as very typical, as you know most people have anxiety, but psychosis is seen as being much more serious mental disorder. Psychosis is characterized by an impaired relationship with reality. People who are experiencing psychosis may have either hallucinations or what is commonly called crazy thoughts. These thoughts are known as delusions.
Abraham Maslow posited that we have a hierarchy of needs, that progressives upwards like a pyramid. One needs to have some of the lower level needs met before striving for higher level needs.
on the bottom is Physiological needs – these are biological requirements for human survival, for example. air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, sleep. all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.
then comes Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
– after physiological and safety needs have been fulfilled, the third level of human needs is social and involves feelings of belongingness. The need for interpersonal relationships motivates behavior. Examples include friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (such as with family, friends, work).
Fourth comes Esteem needs – which Maslow classified into two categories: (i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and two, the desire for reputation or respect from others (for example: status and prestige).
Maslow indicated that the need for respect or reputation is most important for children and adolescents and precedes real self-esteem or dignity.
Lastly were Self-actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. A desire “to become everything one is capable of becoming”
So now you know a bit about the giant field of study known as psychology. It is wise to put some effort into resolving one’s own psychology, either through reading and self development and self analysis or with a therapist, so that you can become a whole, self realized, self actualized self. A whole person.