Tag Archives: conscious and unconscious
Words to consider as we prepare to take a closer look at Carl Jung’s unique view of the human condition as expressed in the Jung’s Individuation Process. There have been similar undertakings into the minds of Freud, Rogers, Adler and other forefathers of modern psychology. Each of these theories offer a unique perspective on the human personality.
What is presented is an overview of the thinking from what we call today the classic schools of psychology. These schools of thought or psychological theories were all developed in the first half of 20th century. Most of these theories had a shared paradigm, which is the multi-tier view of the human mind.
That paradigm includes the long-standing acceptance of a conscious/sub-conscious world at work within us. In addition to a shared paradigm, the methodology used by these psychologists includes to varying degree both scientific study and practical case experience. The results of combining their theories are additive rather than paradigm shifting.
With this as the backdrop we enter the world of the Swiss psychiatrist/psychotherapist Carl Jung. He is best known for his work in developing the field of analytical psychology. We will see that the concept of Individuation holds center stage in Jung’s analytical psychology. According to Jung, it is individuation that is the central process of human development
Individuation – A Definition
From a linguistic point of view definition of terms and meaning introduces the potential for understanding. While individuation has become the property of the world of psychology it is worth noting that Jung intended for it to be a much more than that. For him it encompasses the philosophical, mystical, and spiritual areas of the human being.
The word itself has roots going back to the 1600’s when it was used to identify a person as an individual or individuation. Here again, Jung applied another of the elements of the classic psychology paradigm; the freedom to rename and redefine within a limited scope those terms that apply to the work at hand.
In the broadest possible way, individuation can be defined as the achievement of self-actualization through a process of integrating the conscious and the unconscious. Once again, any accurate understanding of Jung should come from him.
While some doubt its existence for others the unconscious mind is considered to be a cornerstone of the psychoanalytic process. Within the unconscious mind is the processes believed to occur automatically in the mind. By definition the use of the term unconscious suspends introspection about them, while including related behaviors, thought processes, memory, affect, and motivation.
Much of the current empirical research into the unconscious mind, or automatic thoughts strongly suggests that theorists such as Freud, Schelling, and Coleridge were on the mark in their inclusion of this phenomenon into the analytic lexicon.
With the names of more modern era thinkers attached to its ideology it would be easy to overlook the importance of the idea of the unconscious mind on the views of the world held by much of humankind. For some cultures it has served as a way of explaining ancient ideas of temptation, divine inspiration, and the predominant role of the gods in affecting motives, actions. evil, bad dreams, or other catastrophes of life.
Dating back to between 2500 and 600 BC the experience of the unconscious mind can be found in Hindu texts. Whatever name is attached to it, the idea of unspoken thought as an integral part of the functions of the mind continues to be important in the psychoanalytical world.
In the 21st century any definition of the unconscious mind must rely on language, and in particular the metaphor to be valid. There are so many words and phrases used interchangeably with the unconscious mind that one can easily lose track of what it is being must discussed. Among these words and phrases are:
- The subconscious
- The Id
Of equal importance is to distinguish between unconscious process (psychoanalytic stimuli) and the unconscious mind (the reaction to that stimuli). Recent studies seem to support that while unconscious processes occur as though they were in a vacuum the human reaction to them is measurable and real. How is this explained? Let’s look at these three approaches.
Understanding the human mind is at the core of psychoanalytic theory. Since the introduction of the theory of Sigmund Freud in the early 1900’s and despite the many advancements in the study of psychoanalytic theory Freud’s basic thoughts retain a strong hold on the shaping of views regarding the theory of the human mind.
At the center of Freud’s theory are psychopathologies that result in a mental illness within a subject. It is Freud’s premise that within the human mind is contained in three levels of awareness or consciousness. It is the introduction of these psychopathologies that affect people, thus requiring more than simply talking about them. The effective treatment of these deep seated psychopathologies is psychoanalysis.
In the illustration below is Freud’s division of these three levels and the estimated usage of each level. They are the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious. Working together they create our reality.
Although acceptance of Freud’s psychoanalytical theory has ebbed and flowed over time few professionals would suggest dismissing it. Within it is a model or concept that has withstood the many tests of time.
The origin of the meaning of the mind offers a long and rich history. Unlike many other words and phrases there is no clear evolution given for its use. Its meaning was more dependent on the context of its usage rather than any single meaning.
If spoken of by a philosopher the mind may well mean one’s personality, identity, and their memories. For the religious the mind houses the spirit, an awareness of God, or to the scientist the mind is the generator of ideas and thoughts. The mind has carried with it many diverse labels. In its infancy references to the mind truly were metaphoric.
It was not until the 14th and 15th centuries that the generalization of mind to include all mental faculties, thought, volition, feeling, and memory gradually developed.
In the late 19th and early 20th century brought psychology to the forefront as a respected science. Due in no small part to the work of Freud and others, the popular focus on the human mind, its role in the behavioral sciences, and the mind/body question solidified. Today, the concept of the mind and its functions is almost always discussed from a scientific point of view.
Fasten your seat belt and join me as we take a trip through the history of psychology. I spent over three decades as a clinician, a researcher, and an educator. As a part of my ongoing professional interest in mental health, or as it is often called today behavioral health, I looked into the history, the contemporary work, and the introduction of up and coming approaches. It became apparent that the field of psychology has three distinct eras.
Pre-Modern Psychology: This era takes us back many centuries to a time when psychology was viewed as a philosophy and not a science. The transition from the pre-modern to the modern was slow in coming, but come it did.
Modern Psychology: In the late 19th century, this transition from pre-modern to modern psychology took on a life of its own. The speed at which this change occurred was dramatic. The stamp of approval for psychology to move from a philosophy to a science was given. With it came the hope of providing a more meaningful life to those suffering mental deficiencies.
Post-modern Psychology: With new theories, energy, and vision, there were those in the psychological community that sought clarity to what had gone on before them. In particular was the search and research for a more integrative understanding of the human mind than those offered by Freud and others who remained committed to the psychoanalytic view of the mind.