Table of contents:

Unconscious Elephant - Self-development
Unconscious Elephant - Self-development

Video: Unconscious Elephant - Self-development

Video: Unconscious Elephant - Self-development
Video: Is Elephant Self Aware and Conscious? 2023, March

Our consciousness is a patch of sunlit in the middle of a huge vegetable garden. Everything else lies in the shadows, and you can only understand what is growing there by touch. How to understand all the diversity of the unconscious? A psychological compass will come to the rescue.

Let's move in one direction - we find that there are large round fruits growing, and we say: "Wow, full of watermelons!" But then we take a couple of steps in the other direction, and there are some thorny tops that resemble raspberries. And it has always been this way: some people described the dark vegetable garden as an endless melon, others as an endless raspberry tree. The only problem is that each of them called it the word "unconscious".

This is reminiscent of the parable about the elephant and the blind sages - each of them stubbornly called the part he got "elephant", and therefore they could not understand each other. Come up with three different words for the blind: trunk, tail, leg, could, by cooperating, build a map of an elephant. And then to figure out what the whole elephant looks like and how it can be arranged.

At the risk of hearing the snort of narrowly focused specialists (“You called my beautiful elephant a“trunk”!”), I dare to offer a preliminary map of the unconscious, indicating which sages are around it.

In your subconscious mind there is a force that can turn the world upside down

William James

New unconscious

The modern concept of the unconscious, based on detailed research and measurements, is often called the "new unconscious" to distinguish it from the unconscious, which was popularized by Sigmund Freud. Even cognitive and behavioral psychologists readily talk about this unconscious, although sometimes they call it something else (for example, like Daniel Kahneman, "System 1").

A lot of things that we learn go from unconscious incompetence (I do not know how to do something and I don’t even know about it) to conscious incompetence (I know that I can’t do something), to conscious competence (I know how I do it I do), to unconscious competence (I can do it well, but I have no idea how). Take, for example, cycling or reading - there was a time when both required a conscious effort, but now it is done automatically. This is now part of the procedural memory.

Everything that is in your consciousness is there only after passing through the subconscious. This is easy to show in experiments. Let's say we add a noise in the middle of a word to the audio recording, for example, "sa * ok". If the phrase ends with "lying next to a broom", people will hear "scoop", and if "… in high heels" - "boot". Moreover, some people may not hear the interference at all, while the rest will hear it between words, and not within a word. This is just one example of the invisible work that our subconscious does.

In certain situations, the subconscious mind “deals with” the situation without even notifying the consciousness about it. During the experiment, the subjects had to sort words. In the first group, words were associated with old age (decrepit, weak, etc.), the second group got a random set of words. After that, all participants had to walk along a long corridor - people sorting words associated with old age walked much more slowly.

Our memories, in a sense, are also part of the “unconscious”. Remember your last trip to the forest … What happened now? Just a minute ago, these thoughts were not in your consciousness (that is, they were in the unconscious), but now they are. Usually this process occurs quite smoothly, but sometimes, for example, the word "spins on the tongue" - I realize that the word is known to me, but it itself remains in the unconscious for a while.

Don't stray from the straight path


“We forget that consciousness is just a surface, only the vanguard of our psychic existence. The head is only one end, and behind it, behind the vanguard-consciousness, is a long tail of hesitations, weaknesses, complexes, prejudices and inherited qualities. We almost always make decisions without considering the factors of the past. And sometimes we go off the rails."

Carl Gustav JUNG

Personal unconscious

No matter how much neuropsychology teases Freud, it is not worth completely discarding his ideas. It is obvious that the unconscious does not consist entirely of repressed material, as Freud thought. But this does not mean that there is no repressed in him at all. Those parts of our psyche that do not fit into our idea of ourselves or the world, the material with which our consciousness cannot cope, constitute the repressed unconscious.

The embedded unconscious consists of all those attitudes and beliefs about ourselves and about the world that we learned in those days when we could not yet take them critically. All these "you can't easily catch a fish out of the pond", "if you don't study well, you become a janitor," "all the men are goats," "you can't beat girls," and so on. We may be aware of some of this, but most of these attitudes are unconscious. And it is precisely that which does not correspond to the introduced attitudes about what is permissible, and turns out to be repressed. The embedded unconscious is very similar to what Freud called the "superego."

And of course, there are things that were not supplanted, but simply forgotten as unnecessary (school chemistry course?). Once they were part of consciousness and someday they may become it again, but so far they are part of the submerged unconscious.

Collective unconscious

The first idea that there is a deeper layer of the psyche under the personal unconscious, independent of individual experience and common to all people, was proposed by Carl Jung. He called it the collective unconscious. It consists of archetypes (common to the species prototypes of ideas) and is the source of the symbolic language of myths and dreams. Even those psychologists who are comfortable with Freudianism often disown Jung. But if you look closely, there is much less mysticism in the idea of a collective unconscious than it might seem at first glance.

Here is what Alan Watts writes: “The human body in all corners of the Earth has a similar shape and structure; we are not surprised that the skeleton of a New Yorker is constructed in the same way as the skeleton of a four-thousand-year-old Mohenjo-Daro. However, none of us consciously influences the structure of our skeleton … the body grows by itself, and we only occasionally note that it really changes. The human face is collective in the sense that it is one for all people; the process during which this image develops is called the collective unconscious, because it is the same for everyone and is not recognized by anyone.

If we assume that thoughts, feelings and images also constitute either a part of the human body or its functions, then we should expect manifestations of the same collective, unified character in the development of thoughts and images without conscious interference - as it happens in dreams and free fantasies."

Leonard Mlodinov, "Unconscious":

“Modern psychology recognizes the importance of the unconscious, but the internal forces of the new unconscious have little in common with those described by Freud, such as the boy's desire to kill his father and marry his own mother, or a woman's envy of the male genital organ. Freud's unconscious is hot and humid; seethes with lust and anger; hallucinatory, primitive, irrational, while the new unconscious is kinder and more delicate - and more closely connected with reality. In the new view, mental processes are seen as unconscious because there are areas of the mind that are not accessible to consciousness due to the architecture of the brain. The inaccessibility of a new unconscious is not a defense mechanism or a sign of ill health. This is now considered the norm."

The fact that we can distinguish certain stages in the process of a child's development, and these stages are natural and expected, tells us that a "plan" of this process is stored somewhere. This part of the collective unconscious is what Ken Wilber calls the background unconscious. “These are deep structures that exist as potentially ready to emerge at some point in the future,” he writes.

When the right moment comes, a certain part of the background unconscious begins to unfold in the psyche and becomes a floating unconscious. Lev Vygotsky, for example, spoke of this as "zones of the child's proximal development" - the area of unripe, but maturing mental processes. The sequence of these processes unfolding from birth to adulthood is well understood, but is there something further? Are there any structures in the collective unconscious of a higher level than the type of consciousness inherent in an ordinary adult in our culture?

Transpersonal psychology is based on the assumption that such structures exist. She studies seemingly the same collective unconscious, but invests in this concept much more than Jung himself. The main focus of interest in transpersonal psychology is the transpersonal levels of consciousness development, which for most people are still part of the background unconscious, waiting in the wings.

Although at the moment transpersonal psychology is much closer to philosophy than to science, interest in it continues to grow, as does the number of its followers. So who knows, maybe in ten or twenty years we will find out that our inner garden extends much further than we can now imagine.

Popular by topic