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Unconscious

Unconscious

The part of the mind whose contents people resist bringing into awareness.

Sigmund Freud assumed that the human mind was divided into three divisions: the id , ego , and superego , which, in turn, had both conscious and unconscious portions. The id, motivated by two biological drivessex and aggressionoperates according to the pleasure principle , seeking satisfaction and avoiding pain . Guided by the reality principle, the ego's goal is to find safe and socially acceptable ways of satisfying the id's desires without transgressing the limits imposed by the superego. Developing from the ego in childhood , the superego, or conscience , has as its goal to apply moral values in satisfying one's wishes. Both the ego and superego operate consciously and unconsciously, according to Freud, while the id is entirely unconscious.

In psychoanalytic theory, developed by Freud in the treatment of normal and abnormal personalities, the preconscious and unconscious minds are the repositories of secret or sexual desires that threaten our self-esteem , or ego. Once in the unconscious, these repressed desires and fears give rise to anxiety and guilt , which influence conscious behavior and thoughts. Freud attributed the cause of many psychological disorders to the conflict between conscious and unconscious urges. In order to understand abnormal behaviors and eliminate them, he theorized, an expert was required, who, in a trusting relationship with the patient, would employ techniques such as dream analysis and free association to retrieve materials buried in the unconscious mind. Thus, the driving forces behind behavior could be understood, and unresolved unconscious conflicts and anxiety could become a source of insight for the patient, eliminating the primary source of abnormal behavior.

See also Repression.

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unconscious

unconscious, in psychology, that aspect of mental life that is separate from immediate consciousness and is not subject to recall at will. Sigmund Freud regarded the unconscious as a submerged but vast portion of the mind. In his view, the unconscious was composed of the id, which accounts for instinctual drives, acts as the motivating force in human behavior, and contains desires and wishes that the individual hides—or represses—from conscious recognition; and part of the superego, the system that acts to restrain and control id impulses. Conscious cognitive processes, such as thinking, are performed by the ego and part of the superego (see psychoanalysis). Conflict between conscious and unconscious impulses are said to give rise to anxiety, then to defense mechanisms, which counteract this anxiety. To tap the unconscious, Freud used a variety of techniques, including hypnosis, free association, and dream interpretation. C. G. Jung expanded on the Freudian concept, adding the idea of an inherited unconscious, known as the collective unconscious. The idea of the unconscious has been rejected by some psychological schools, although it is still used by many psychoanalysts. The term unconscious is also used to describe latent, or unretrieved, memories, or to describe stimuli too weak to enter an individual's conscious awareness.

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unconscious

un·con·scious / ˌənˈkänshəs/ • adj. not conscious: the boy was beaten unconscious. ∎  done or existing without one realizing: he would wipe back his hair in an unconscious gesture of annoyance. ∎  (unconscious of) unaware of: “What is it?” he said again, unconscious of the repetition. • n. (the unconscious) the part of the mind that is inaccessible to the conscious mind but that affects behavior and emotions. DERIVATIVES: un·con·scious·ly adv.un·con·scious·ness n.

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unconscious

unconscious Term in psychology for that part of mental life believed to operate without the individual's immediate awareness or control. It includes memories that the person is not actually thinking about, and the organizing processes underlying speech and reading. In Freud's analysis, it is the area containing the desires and conflicts of the id. Jung believed that part of the unconscious (the collective unconscious) contains inherited concepts, shared by all other human beings.

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unconscious

unconscious (un-kon-shŭs) adj.
1. in a state of unconsciousness.

2. (in psychoanalysis) denoting the part of the mind that includes memories, motives, and intentions that are not accessible to awareness and cannot be made conscious without overcoming resistances. Compare subconscious.

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unconscious

unconscious See PSYCHOANALYSIS.

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