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In
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
, the subconscious is the part of the mind that is not currently of focal awareness.


Scholarly use of the term

The word ''subconscious'' represents an anglicized version of the French ''subconscient'' as coined in 1889 by the psychologist
Pierre Janet Pierre Marie Félix Janet (; 30 May 1859 – 24 February 1947) was a pioneering French psychologist A psychologist is a professional who practices psychology and studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emoti ...
(1859–1947), in his doctorate of letters thesis, ''De l'Automatisme Psychologique''. Janet argued that underneath the layers of critical-thought functions of the
conscious Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial ...
mind lay a powerful awareness that he called the subconscious mind.Henri F. Ellenberger, ''The Discovery of the Unconscious'' (1970) In the strict psychological sense, the adjective is defined as "operating or existing outside of
consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial ...

consciousness
". Locke and Kristof write that there is a limit to what can be held in conscious focal awareness, an alternative storehouse of one's knowledge and prior experience is needed, which they label the subconscious.


Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine M ...

Sigmund Freud
used the term "subconscious" in 1893 to describe associations and impulses that are not accessible to consciousness. He later abandoned the term in favor of unconscious, noting the following: In 1896, in Letter 52, Freud introduced the stratification of mental processes, noting that memory-traces are occasionally re-arranged in accordance with new circumstances. In this theory, he differentiated between ''Wahrnehmungszeichen'' ("Indication of perception"), ''Unbewusstsein'' ("the unconscious") and ''Vorbewusstsein'' ("the
Preconscious In psychoanalysis Psychoanalysis (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
"). From this point forward, Freud no longer used the term "subconscious" because, in his opinion, it failed to differentiate whether content and the processing occurred in the unconscious or preconscious mind. Charles Rycroft explains that the subconscious is a term "never used in psychoanalytic writings". Peter Gay says that the use of the term subconscious where unconscious is meant is "a common and telling mistake"; indeed, "when he termis employed to say something 'Freudian', it is proof that the writer has not read his Freud".


Analytical psychology

Carl Jung Carl Gustav Jung ( ; born Karl Gustav Jung, ; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961), was a Swiss psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations ...

Carl Jung
said that since there is a limit to what can be held in conscious focal awareness, an alternative storehouse of one's knowledge and prior experience is needed.


"New Age" and other modalities targeting the subconscious

The idea of the subconscious as a powerful or potent agency has allowed the term to become prominent in
New Age New Age is a range of spiritual or religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religi ...
and
self-help Self-help or self-improvement is a self-guided improvement''APA Dictionary of Physicology'', 1st ed., Gary R. VandenBos, ed., Washington: American Psychological Association The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific ...
literature, in which investigating or controlling its supposed knowledge or power is seen as advantageous. In the New Age community, techniques such as
autosuggestion Autosuggestion is a psychological technique related to the placebo effect, developed by apothecary Émile Coué at the beginning of the 20th century. It is a form of self-induced suggestion in which individuals guide their own thoughts, feelings, ...
and affirmations are believed to harness the power of the subconscious to influence a person's life and real-world outcomes, even curing sickness. ''
Skeptical Inquirer {{Use American English, date=January 2020 {{Use mdy dates, date=January 2020 {{Infobox magazine , title = Skeptical Inquirer , image_file = Skeptical Inquirer.jpg , image_size = 300px , image_caption = , editor = K ...

Skeptical Inquirer
'' magazine criticized the lack of
falsifiability Falsifiability is a standard of evaluation of scientific theories and hypotheses that was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper in his book The Logic of Scientific Discovery, ''Logik der Forschung'' (1934). He proposed it as the ...
and
testability Testability, a property applying to an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evi ...
of these claims.
Physicist Ali Alousi, for instance, criticized it as unmeasurable and questioned the likelihood that thoughts can affect anything outside the head.Whittaker, S
Secret attraction
, ''The Montreal Gazette'', May 12, 2007.
In addition, critics have asserted that the evidence provided is usually
anecdotal Anecdotal evidence is evidence from anecdotes: evidence collected in a casual or informal manner and relying heavily or entirely on personal testimony. The term is sometimes used in a legal context to describe certain kinds of testimony which ar ...
and that, because of the self-selecting nature of the positive reports, as well as the
subjective Subjective may refer to: * Subjectivity, a subject's personal perspective, feelings, beliefs, desires or discovery, as opposed to those made from an independent, objective, point of view ** Subjective experience, the subjective quality of consciou ...
nature of any results, these reports are susceptible to
confirmation bias Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one's prior belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholo ...
and
selection bias Selection bias is the bias Bias is a disproportionate weight ''in favor of'' or ''against'' an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded Open-mindedness is receptiveness to new ideas. Open-mindedness relates to the way in which peop ...
. Psychologists and psychiatrists use the term "unconscious" in traditional practices, where metaphysical and New Age literature, often use the term subconscious.In his ("''
New Thought The New Thought movement (also Higher Thought) is a spiritual movement which coalesced in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Contine ...
''") work ''Power of Your Subconscious Mind'' (1963), Joseph Murphy likens the workings of the subconscious mind to a syllogism. Murphy states (p. 43), "whatever major premise your conscious mind assumes to be true determines the conclusion your subconscious mind comes to in regard to any particular question or problem in your mind." This means that if your major premise is true, then the conclusion that follows your premise must be true also. He shares the following formula.
"Every virtue is laudable;
Kindess is a virtue;
Therefore, kindness is laudable."
Murphy argues that because your subconscious mind operates like a syllogism one can reap great benefits by utilizing a powerful and positive major premise. He also warns that the opposite could hold true: if one uses a negative, self-defeating major premise, one could reap horrible consequences.
It should not, however, be inferred that the concept of the unconscious and the New Age concept of the subconscious are precisely equivalent, even though they both warrant consideration of mental processes of the brain. Psychologists and psychiatrists take a much more limited view of the capabilities of the unconscious than are represented by New Age depiction of the subconscious. There are a number of methods in use in the contemporary New Age and paranormal communities that affect the latter: * Affirmations *
Autosuggestion Autosuggestion is a psychological technique related to the placebo effect, developed by apothecary Émile Coué at the beginning of the 20th century. It is a form of self-induced suggestion in which individuals guide their own thoughts, feelings, ...
*
Binaural beats In acoustics, a beat is an Interference (wave propagation), interference pattern between two sounds of slightly different frequency, frequencies, ''perceived'' as a periodic variation in amplitude (music), volume whose rate is the Difference (math ...

Binaural beats
*
Hypnosis Hypnosis is a human condition involving focused attention Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experie ...

Hypnosis
*
Subliminal message Subliminal stimuli (; the prefix ' literally means "below" or "less than") are any sensory stimuli A stimulus is something that causes a physiological response. It may refer to: *Stimulation Stimulation is the encouragement of development or ...


See also

*
Consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial ...

Consciousness
*
Collective unconscious Collective unconscious (german: kollektives Unbewusstes) refers to the unconscious mind The unconscious mind (or the unconscious) consists of the processes in the mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena A phe ...
* History of hypnosis *
Non-rapid eye movement sleep Non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM), also known as quiescent sleep, is, collectively, sleep Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is or of in ...
*
Preconscious In psychoanalysis Psychoanalysis (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
*
Rapid eye movement sleep Rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep or REMS) is a unique phase of sleep Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is or of internal and external ...
*
Slow-wave sleep Slow-wave sleep (SWS), often referred to as deep sleep, consists of stage three of non-rapid eye movement sleep. Initially, SWS consisted of both Stage 3, which has 20–50 percent delta wave, delta wave activity, and Stage 4, which has more tha ...
*
Subliminal stimuli Subliminal stimuli (; the prefix ' literally means "below" or "less than") are any sensory stimuli A stimulus is something that causes a physiological response. It may refer to: *Stimulation Stimulation is the encouragement of development or ...
*
Unconscious mind The unconscious mind (or the unconscious) consists of the processes in the mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its mod ...
;Transdisciplinary topics * List of thought processes *
Philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, a ...

Philosophy of mind


Notes and references


External links


The Subconscious For Academic Success

A Reader's Guide To Pierre Janet: A Neglected Intellectual Heritage


* {{Authority control Consciousness studies Hypnosis zh:潛意識