And our emotions and behaviors are governed by the unconscious mind more than we think. In fact, Freud contends that humans have developed defensive mechanisms inside their minds to guarantee that their unconscious intentions are never revealed. These mechanisms include ideas such as guilt and remorse to keep us from doing things we want to avoid and pride to help us avoid showing weakness.
He believed that because of this automatic nature of the unconscious mind, some of our actions are controlled by factors beyond our awareness. For example, he argued that reasons why we do something against our will (such as stealing money for a drug habit) can be found in the contents of our unconscious minds.
Modern psychologists share with Freud the idea that our thoughts and feelings are always happening even when we're not aware of them. However, they argue that the unconscious mind is not magical or alien to psychology; rather, it's an integral part of everyone's brain that controls certain behavior patterns without our knowledge. Psychologists have only begun to explore how and why this happens in detail.
Unconsciousness has been studied extensively in relation to dreams. We all know that dreams feel real while we're sleeping so there must be something about our brains that makes them believe they are living through actual experiences.
People have developed a variety of defense mechanisms (such as repression) to keep their unconscious impulses and sentiments hidden. Freud (1915) highlighted the significance of the unconscious mind, and a central tenet of Freudian thought is that the unconscious mind drives behavior to a larger extent than most people believe. The study of the unconscious has since been taken up by many other psychologists including Jung (1911), Adler (1912), and Bion (1961).
The ability to understand and control one's own unconscious urges can help people achieve greater self-awareness and manage their emotions more effectively. It also has practical applications in therapy, where an understanding of the unconscious mind can help clinicians diagnose mental disorders or identify risk factors for developing ones. Finally, knowing how the unconscious works can help people be more effective marketers because they would then be able to target specific aspects of their customers' needs and desires without them being aware of it.
In addition to these academic interests, the study of the unconscious mind has many popular applications. Psychoanalysis is a form of treatment that involves exploring patients' unconscious thoughts and feelings in order to bring them into the conscious mind so that they can be managed more effectively.
Many artists have explored the unconscious mind through art. Some famous examples include Salvador Dali and Vincent van Gogh.
Finally, there are some recent studies suggesting that our unconscious minds play a role in decision making.
The unconscious mind, according to Freud (1915), is the basic source of human conduct. The most significant portion of the mind, like an iceberg, is the part you can't see. Our sentiments, motivations, and decisions are all heavily impacted by our prior experiences, which are stored in our unconscious. Behaviorists such as B. F. Skinner argued that all behavior is a response to a stimulus that has been previously associated with a specific outcome or reward. In this way, a person's past experiences shape their present behavior.
How does the unconscious influence our behavior? Psychologists have many ways of looking at the interaction between the conscious and unconscious minds. One theory is called cognitive psychology, which focuses on how memories are created and used for decision-making purposes. Another theory is called psychodynamic psychology, which focuses on why we think and act the way we do using information from both our conscious and unconscious minds. Yet another theory is called behavioral psychology, which focuses on how external stimuli are translated into behaviors through the agency of the will.
All of these theories have something to say about the impact of the unconscious on behavior.
Indeed, the purpose of psychoanalysis is to disclose the deployment of such defense mechanisms and therefore bring the unconscious to conscious awareness. Defense mechanisms can be thought of as strategies that help us cope with anxiety-producing thoughts and feelings. The term "defense mechanism" was first used by Freud (1915), who described them as ways in which the mind deals with anxiety-producing impulses or memories that are too painful to accept completely.
Psychologists have since expanded upon this concept, proposing several different types of defenses that may be employed by humans to deal with anxiety-producing thoughts and feelings. Two common categories of defenses are rationalization and repression. Rationalization involves making sense of unacceptable or confusing experiences by inventing explanations that make their consequences less harmful. For example, if a child abuses his father's power over him by hitting him when he gets angry, he is actually protecting himself by believing that hitting back will not cause more harm. This explanation makes sense of the abuse to the child, but it also means that it is impossible to determine whether or not he will hit his father next time they fight.
Repression involves consciously forgetting certain thoughts and feelings.
Thoughts and emotions outside of our consciousness, according to Freud, continue to impact our conduct even when we are oblivious (unconscious) of these underlying effects. Repressed sensations, secret memories, habits, ideas, desires, and reactions can all be found in the unconscious. The more familiar an idea is to the person, the easier it is for them to act upon it.
For example, if you eat too much at a meal and then go to bed feeling full, you'll likely wake up hungry again before long. This is because the body is trying to tell you that it needs to release some stored energy by eating again. If you don't listen to this message and force yourself to eat less, the body will keep sending it until you do release the stored energy.
The more you know about your own mind and how it works, the better able you will be to understand why you do what you do. In addition, learning more about your psychotherapist's theory of psychology can help you develop a deeper relationship with him or her. Knowing what aspects of your personality lead you to seek out certain people versus others, for example, can help you decide who would be a good fit for receiving psychotherapy.
Finally, being aware of the ways ination can influence our behavior means that we are not victims of random events. Rather, we have the power to change how we respond to situations that affect us emotionally.