Understanding The Conscious Mind

By: April Carson


The conscious mind is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about in a rational way. This part consists of everything inside of our awareness according to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory.


The conscious mind includes the sensations, perceptions, memories, feelings and fantasies that are currently in our awareness. The closely allied preconscious (subconscious) is all of the things we're not thinking about right now but can easily bring into consciousness if prompted to do so. The subconscious makes up a large part of our thought process.


It can be defined as "the state or quality of awareness, especially consciousness as it applies to sense perception, memory, libido , consciousness in thought", "awareness that results from psychological or physiological stimuli" .


People have a tendency to mistake consciousness for intelligence. The breadth of consciousness is much more nuanced than intelligence, largely because consciousness is about being conscious of something, rather than the substance of what we're conscious about. Thus consciousness often lags behind intelligence by at least a second. Intelligence can be defined as "The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills". Which is consciousness, but consciousness is more of a by-product than being the crux of intelligence.


In consciousness there are often minute details that may or may not be picked up on depending on how our consciousness works. An example would be a basketball player who isn't aware of a spot on their shorts, but sees it if someone points out to them. Charles Bonnet Syndrome is another example of consciousness thinking about something without the consciousness realizing it. This syndrome happens to those who have lost sight in one or both eyes, which causes the brain to create images based on memory and imagination because it can no longer take in new visual information. Since our consciousness constantly thinks, it has time to think about things we wouldn't normally admit or even notice. The consciousness can also re-interpret a situation and change our memories, which is why two people can see the same event but have different versions of what happened. Memories are stored throughout the brain, not just in one specific area.


The conscious mind, on the other hand, tries to keep negative memories from surfacing. Negative feelings, thoughts, urges, and emotions are repressed into the unconscious mind while we are unaware of them. According to Freud, while we are ignorant of these sentiments, they can cause neuroses and problems.


Unconscious ideas are only accessible to the conscious mind in disguise form. The contents of the unconscious might spill into consciousness in the shape of dreams, for example, according to Freud. People may identify unconscious influences on their conscious behaviors by analyzing the content of their dreams.


The consciousness is also the part of our mind that's aware of mistakes and remembers them through guilt or embarrassment. It also tries to keep unhelpful memories from affecting us too much, but it doesn't always work. These mistakes can haunt people who have psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), survivors of trauma, accidents, natural disasters.


Consciousness exists on a spectrum from no consciousness to full consciousness. A person loses consciousness when they are sleeping, faint or die; they lose the ability to be conscious. When consciousness is lost, our brain goes through five different stages of consciousness , which include: dreamless consciousness (sleep), brain wave consciousness (faint) consciousness of lack of content (glassy-eyed), automatic consciousness (semi-conscious) consciousness of content (disoriented, irritable). If someone wakes up from sleep and they are disoriented, this is because consciousness hasn't yet returned to normal.


Conscious vs. Preconscious


Consciousness is a term used to describe the awareness of our experiences and thoughts, whereas preconscious refers to mental processes that are always present but can be brought into consciousness with focus. The preconscious mind is a portion of the brain that corresponds to everyday memory. These memories are not necessarily aware, but we can bring them to conscious awareness at any moment.


The conscious mind is made up of all of the information and thoughts that you are currently aware of and thinking about. It has a limited capacity and is comparable to short-term memory. Your consciousness includes your awareness of yourself and the world around you.


The preconscious is a concept that can be difficult to grasp. It serves as a kind of gatekeeper between the conscious and unconscious aspects of the mind. Only certain pieces of information are allowed to pass through it and enter conscious awareness. It is an important concept, however, because it illustrates the existence of parts of consciousness that are not immediately available for conscious inspection.


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