The history of psychotherapy is filled with confusion that has existed since Freud’s time and continues to the present despite Freud’s efforts to eliminate confusion by doing away with the idea of the subconscious, a move I feel was misguided. To exemplify the confusion of the past and present and eliminate it, I shall define and use the terms “subconscious, super conscious and conscious” mind. Throughout this report, I use the term “psyche” to refer to the personality, the mind and the ego.
The ego is the “self” that makes decisions and exerts voluntary control over the body and the rest of the psyche and the personality is the sum total of the character traits of the ego. Again, these of my use of the terms throughout this paper, a usage that I will maintain for clarity. By referring to my usage, the general confusion throughout psychotherapy in the past and in the present will be clear. Finally, just as I have divided the psyche into the personality, the mind and the ego, I refer to the mind as having a conscious component, and subconscious component and a super conscious component.
The conscious mind is that component of the mind that makes the ego aware of its actions, its existence and its surroundings. The ego, not the conscious mind, exert voluntary control over central nervous system and the body. The subconscious mind (not the unconscious mind) exerts control over the organs, glands, smooth muscles and automatic but involuntary actions of the body. The “unconscious” is merely a state of awareness of the ego and, as such, an aspect of the conscious mind. As such, unconsciousness is part of the spectrum of consciousness.
As such, by my use of the terms, it would be equally correct to divide the mind (not the psyche) into the the unconscious, the super conscious and the subconscious or into the conscious, the super conscious and the subconscious. My point here is that the unconscious and the subconscious are not interchangeable terms or one and the same. I will maintain this use for clarity throughout this essay. The “mind” is that ‘thing,’ that part of the psyche, that makes the ego aware of its surrounding and its existence.
The ego is conscious or unconscious and experiences the effects of the subconscious, and the super conscious. Again, these terms are how I will use them. I will define the elements of the consciousness to illustrate the inconsistencies throughout the history of psychotherapy and to eliminate them for the essay. The conscious mind functions to bring awareness to the ego. I must stress that the ego that is “conscious” or “unconscious”. Consciousness and unconsciousness are states of awareness of the ego. Unconsciousness is not a state of the mind, but rather a state of consciousness.
Again, let me emphasize that unconsciousness and consciousness are one and the same, part of a spectrum of the same phenomenon. It makes no difference whether or not you agree with my usage. I have adopted these definitions and this approach for clarity throughout the report. The subconscious is a state of consciousness and the mind. It functions below the level of conscious awareness of the ego. It controls the glands, smooth muscles and involuntary actions. I believe that this is where memory is stored. No one knows where memory is stored for certain.
Memory cannot be localized in the brain. It has been attributed to the illusive engram (Lashley) and viewed as existing as a hologram throughout the brain. (Pribram, 1978) The search for the engram was so elusive that Lashley and others were forced to conclude that memory was widely distributed throughout the cortex and psychologist Richard Thompson decided to look for it in the cerebellum rather than in the brain using classical conditioning models in designing his experiments. The super conscious is not recognized in psychotherapy and play no role in the discipline.
It was inadvertently discovered by Sir William McDougall in the 1920s (McDougall, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1936, 1938) and studied until the 1950s (Agar, 1932, 1943, 1948; Crew, 1932, 1936) when research on it was abandoned because the reproducible data could not be explained. (Finger, 1942a, 1942b) In the course of their studies from the 1920s through the 1950s, McDougall, Crew and others around the world concluded that an unknown form of consciousness probably exists that could not be associated with the physical body.
They found that information learned by the experimental animal was also passed on from one generation to the next in the offspring of the control animals that had not been introduced to the experimental paradigm! McDougall viewed this as a form of consciousness and wrote extensively about it. Although not referred to in psychology as “super consciousness,” it is a level of consciousness outside of and above the level of the ego and the body.
While I will devote some brief comments to it, McDougall’s studies have been added for completeness and are outside of the scope of this essay. I have chosen to focus on the history of psychotherapy and its inconsistent use of the term “unconscious”. Strictly speaking, the term “subconscious” is supposed to refer to something “below” the level of consciousness while the term “unconscious” means, “not conscious. ” Unconscious means unable to respond to sensory stimuli and to have subjective experiences while subconscious is supposed to refer.
The “subconscious” is a part of the mind that cannot be readily accessed by the conscious awareness of the ego. I need to stress that I am actually adding my on slant on the definitions presented here because there is so much inconsistency in the psychological literature that deals with the “unconscious” and the “subconscious”. However, I have taken definitions from Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary to emphasize my point. Thus, Dorland’s refers to the unconscious as being “incapable to responding to sensory stimuli and of having subjective experiences.
” It refers the reader to both “coma” and “consciousness”. While “unconscious” is supposed to refer to being incapable of responding to stimuli, Dorland’s defines subconscious as being “imperfectly or partially conscious”. The term was once used to include the preconscious and the unconscious, and today, perhaps many still include or equate unconsciousness and the subconscious. There simply is no precise, clear distinction in the use throughout psychology.