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Subconscious

SUBCONSCIOUS

A term that appears rather frequently in the psychological literature of the late 19th century, especially in France, the "subconscious" was used to designate a mental state that is subliminal, diminished, or weak and obscure; in terms of conscious thought it implied a difference a degree not of kind. "Judgment and reasoning, whether conscious, subconscious, or unconscious, remain the same, except for a difference in the degree of clarity of the representation," wrote Théodule Ribot in La Logique des sentiments (1905, p. 80).

The subconscious was most clearly delineated in the work of Pierre Janet. In Automatisme psychologique (1889), he posited two contrasting forms of mental activity, automatism and synthesis. The former corresponded to the primal and archaic; the latter, to creativity and higher levels of consciousness. On the basis of experimental work with hysterics, Janet demonstrated that in morbid states, due to a diminished field of consciousness, automatism took precedence over the activity of synthesis.

Janet essentially identified the subconscious with psychic automatism and, in hysteria, he hypothesized profound dissociation and splitting of the personality. He was influenced by the work of Frederick Myers, the British psychical researcher, and the work of American physician Morton Prince on dual and multiple personalities; he also took into account earlier investigations by Jean-Jacques Moreau de Tours on hashish intoxication.

In his early writings, including Studies on Hysteria (1895d), Sigmund Freud used "subconscious" as more or less equivalent to "unconscious" but he soon abandoned the former and disapproved of usage that conflated the two terms. He characterized the unconscious as actively associated with intrapsychic conflict while viewing Janet's subconscious as passive and associated with psychological and physiological weakness. To Janet's "dissociation" he opposed the concept of repression and the psychological duality of separate domains of conscious and unconscious mental functioning.

Annick Ohayon

See also: Flournoy, Théodore; France; Great Britain; Janet, Pierre.

Bibliography

Freud, Sigmund, and Breuer, Josef. (1895d). Studies on hysteria. SE,2.

Janet, Pierre. (1889). L 'Automatisme psychologique: essai de psychologie expérimentale sur les formes inférieures de la vie mentale (thesis). Paris: Felix Alcan.

. (1937). Les troubles de la personnalité sociale. Annales médico-psychologiques.

Ribot, Théodule. (1905). La logique des sentiments. Paris: Alcan.

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Subconscious

Subconscious

A term used by some to describe a segment of the mind below the threshold of consciousness and by others as a collective name for mental phenomena dissociated from those directly or introspectively cognized. F. W. H. Myers, an early and prominent psychical researcher, ascribed various supernormal faculties to it. During the early twentieth century, theories involving such faculties eliminated for many any need to appeal to spirit agencies. Others, however, pointed to the subconscious as a means to reconcile mental activity with spirit agencies. The subconscious may beas J. H. Hyslop pointed outthe very instrument for receiving and transmitting foreign transcendental stimuli, to which, on favorable occasions, it becomes sensitive.

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subconscious

sub·con·scious / səbˈkänshəs/ • adj. of or concerning the part of the mind of which one is not fully aware but which influences one's actions and feelings: my subconscious fear. • n. (one's/the subconscious) this part of the mind (not in technical use in psychoanalysis, where unconscious is preferred). DERIVATIVES: sub·con·scious·ly adv. sub·con·scious·ness n.

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subconscious

subconscious (sub-kon-shŭs) adj. (in psychoanalysis) denoting the part of the mind that includes memories, motives, and intentions that are momentarily not present in consciousness but can more or less readily be recalled to awareness. Compare unconscious.

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subconscious

subconscious: see unconscious.

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subconscious

subconscious XIX. See SUB- 5.

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subconscious

subconsciousfactious, fractious •anxious • captious •precious, semi-precious •infectious •conscientious, contentious, licentious, pretentious, sententious, tendentious •Athanasius, audacious, bodacious, cactaceous, capacious, carbonaceous, contumacious, Cretaceous, curvaceous, disputatious, edacious, efficacious, fallacious, farinaceous, flirtatious, foliaceous, fugacious, gracious, hellacious, herbaceous, Ignatius, loquacious, mendacious, mordacious, ostentatious, perspicacious, pertinacious, pugnacious, rapacious, sagacious, salacious, saponaceous, sebaceous, sequacious, setaceous, spacious, tenacious, veracious, vexatious, vivacious, voracious •facetious, Lucretius, specious •adventitious, Aloysius, ambitious, auspicious, avaricious, capricious, conspicuous, delicious, expeditious, factitious, fictitious, flagitious, judicious, lubricious, malicious, Mauritius, meretricious, nutritious, officious, pernicious, propitious, repetitious, seditious, siliceous, superstitious, suppositious, surreptitious, suspicious, vicious •noxious, obnoxious •conscious, subconscious, unselfconscious •cautious, tortious •atrocious, ferocious, precocious •Confucius • luscious •bumptious, scrumptious •compunctious, rambunctious

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