T & C Thoughts — The Role of the Unconscious

Ha. I’m excited. My T&C class rocks the house. Aside from “freak girl,” everyone seems intelligent and there’s such a good variety of different perspectives and ideas available, and Jeff, our facilitator, does an awesome job of bringing people into the conversation and keeping the conversation going. Tonight is only the second night in, and already we had conversation that lasted the entire span of the class– animated and semi-intelligent conversation at that.

Which introduced to me the idea of the conscious vs. the unconscious and their respective roles and perceptions. So it goes like this: there exists at least two states of the human psyche: the conscious, that is the things we are aware of, the choices we make, etc, and the unconscious, which is the thoughts, ideas and personality that exists within us that we are unaware of. The unconscious is often a great source of ingenuity and wisdom– I can think of countless examples, both personal and historical, of instances of running head-first into a problem and being unable to find a solution. The solution would only come when one took a step back– when Archemedies took a bath, or when Newton reclined under the tree, or when I decided to play Counter-Strike rather than thinking about it. That’s the work of the subconscious, that’s worked out the problem on its own that the conscious was unable to apprehend.

But that’s not the point. The point is simply that there exist the two separate entities. The most compelling evidence of this is dreaming. When you sleep, you are unconscious, which means that everything you dream is entirely a fabrication of the unconscious psyche. There’s no conscious thought involved. What’s interesting is this: there exists a unconscious perception of the world that is often distinctly different than the waking world. It’s kinda like this:

There’s the “real” world, as we perceive it via our senses. This is brought in, and portions of this pass to the conscious mind, and portions to the unconscious. Some consider the unconscious to be the more observant of the two, but I say rather that it sees a portion that the conscious misses over: the conscious is trained to pick things out and to logically piece them together, whereas the unconscious takes in what it wills.

Somewhere between is the world that both agree on, which is how I would say I perceive the world– a balance between the truth and my imagination. Mental illness comes from an imbalance of these forces: an inability to be rational codifies one as insane– too much of the imaginative unconscious– and too much rational and you’re unable to create new thoughts and ideas, and the world is merely black and white. The latter do much better in society, but as with everything, only in a balance of the two does one have the potential for a “normal” and fulfilled life.

So this doesn’t make any sense, but what of it? I really don’t care. I just felt inclined to type something before I went to bed.

Another idea, before it eludes me, is the concept of “training” the subconscious– almost as though it’s a separate and somewhat disagreeable entity. This thought is that if one is consistently honest with one’s subconscious (i.e. I tell myself that I’m going to get up in the morning, and then I do) that eventually one gains the trust and some control of one’s self conscious. Deception, on the other hand (i.e. I say I’m going to get up but then choose not to because I’m still tired) estranges one from one’s self-conscious.


About Mark Egge

Two truths and a lie: Mark Egge is an outdoor enthusiast, opera singer, and a transportation data scientist. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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