The 3 differences between unconscious and subconscious

The existence of a sphere of psychic or mental activity not accessible to consciousness has already been studied by classical philosophers and aroused great interest between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century among psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud. or Carl Gustav Jung, among others. , who called her “unconscious”.

There are certain differences between the unconscious and the subconscious such as the nature of each, its functionality, the degree of accessibility to human consciousness and also its level of recognition in the field of psychology and psychoanalysis. In this article we will talk in more detail about the differences between the unconscious and the subconscious.

    Learn to distinguish between the unconscious and the subconscious

    Before seeing what are the differences between the unconscious and the subconscious, it is necessary to explain what the two concepts are in the field of psychology and especially of psychoanalysis.

    1. The unconscious

    The term “unconscious” is often used to refer to mental processes or parts that are not accessible to consciousness. temporarily or even permanently, this sphere of psychic and mental activity can be in two ways: the first would be like a rational intelligence, that is to say endowed with its own productive and procedural rules, the understanding of which is often complex; second, as a domain of psychic activity, referring to inherent psychic activities (eg, automatic responses, short-term memory, etc.).

    Freud spoke of the unconscious as a series of psychic contents and processes, as well as impulses. that they were not accessible to the conscience of the people, so that they could not be controlled rationally. He also understood that in the unconscious part there were psychic contents that had been removed from the concert and that such contents could come to mind in dreams through dreams symbolically or even through slips (mistakes or unintentional faults).

    For Freud, who included the unconscious part in his first psychoanalytic theory (first topic), in which he divided the mind into three parts (unconscious, preconscious and unconscious), he called the unconscious part the illogical part, the seat of the instincts and the repressed desires which, therefore, do not manifest on a conscious level, but which everyone must be able to satisfy.

    On the other hand, Jung refers in his theories to two types of unconscious: the personal, which was related to the hidden and repressed aspects that had arisen as a result of the interactions between the person and his environment and; on the other hand, the collective, on which Jung came to place more emphasis on this concept as the psychic part which contains the collective and historical elements responsible for modulating the way people think, feel and act, therefore the collective unconscious contains the socially constructed and inherited psychological structures (archetypes).

      2. The subconscious

      It should be noted that the term “subconscious” is practically obsolete today in the field of psychology; however, it is a concept that is heard quite often on a familiar level and has even come to be synonymous with unconscious, which is another reason why we should know the differences between unconscious and subconscious.

      The subconscious concept was used in the field of psychology at the end of the 19th century by the psychiatrist and neurologist Pierre Janet, a contemporary of Freud, to designate these phenomena of personality unfolding, starting from the hypothesis that there was a second consciousness, more attenuated and less accessible than the conscious part; so that the subconscious would be responsible for the split at the psychic and mental level.

      In his theory of mind, Janet has developed several researches based on the concepts of subconscious and dissociation, associating in his hypotheses the origin of the neurotic symptoms of several of his patients with dissociated subconscious contents. This term was also used by Freud in his early research; however, he ended up replacing the term subconscious with the term unconscious, which is why they were used in many cases as synonyms, although today it would be more appropriate to use the term unconscious.

        The main differences between the unconscious and the subconscious

        Although the terms unconscious and subconscious are sometimes used interchangeably, there are actually differences between the two concepts.. Of course, some of these differences are quite subtle, so pitting the two psychic entities against each other can be complex. Therefore, below we will explain the main differences between the unconscious and the subconscious.

        Before detailing all the differences between the unconscious and the subconscious, it should be mentioned that in general, the term “unconscious” is often used to refer to the most inaccessible and deepest area of ​​the mind; while “subconscious” is used to refer to the most superficial area of ​​the unconscious, just below the threshold of consciousness.

        1. Recognition in the field of psychology and psychoanalysis

        Among the differences between the unconscious and the subconscious is the fact that the idea of ​​the unconscious was quite developed by Freud in his psychoanalytic theories, an area of ​​psychology in which it is still studied and used today. , while the term subconscious, although first used by Freud and also by Janet, among others, is a term that has become obsolete and is not currently officially recognized by modern psychology or psychoanalysis .

        The subconscious is today a concept more heard in the colloquial realm, sometimes being used with a synonym of unconscious; however, this term has been relegated to a more metaphorical or mystical spirit.

          2. The degree of accessibility of each

          Another difference between the unconscious and the subconscious is the degree of accessibility of each, so that the subconscious is more accessible to consciousness if we pay attention to it; while the unconscious is the least accessible psychic part found for consciousness.

          In this way, the subconscious would be considered as an intermediate part between consciousness and unconsciousness, being a term that could be partly similar to the preconscious, one of the psychic parts that Freud talked about in his first topic or his first theory psychoanalytic.

          It should be mentioned that when we refer to the subconscious part, we could talk about suppression, so that when a painful memory is suppressed, it is forced to be below the threshold of consciousness. Instead, when we talk about the unconscious part, we use the term suppression to refer to an instinctive and involuntary reaction that maintains in the unconscious part a traumatic event with which to protect that person, being a psychological defense mechanism.

          We could therefore say that the subconscious, according to the theories of classical psychology that referred to this term, it would be a bridge between consciousness and the unconsciousso that with effort we could access memories that are stored in the subconscious, while those that are in the unconscious would be more inaccessible.

            3. The functionality of each

            The fourth of the differences between the unconscious and the subconscious that we are going to mention is its functionality. The subconscious would be that most emotional part of the mind; in other words, it would be the one that allows people to feel, to connect with another person, to be a part that relies more on experience and memories.

            Instead, the unconscious would be the most primitive part of the human mind, so it is guided by the natural evolution of the human speciesit is therefore responsible for the most primitive functions such as the instincts.

            Bibliographic references

            • Agid, Y. (2021). Subconscious: Automatic behavior and the brain. New York: press Columbia University.
            • Bertran, P. (Sf). The 5 differences between conscious, unconscious and subconscious. MedicoPlus.
            • Farahian M. (2015). Subconscious Vs. Unconscious Learning: A Brief Review of Terms. American Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, 2 (3), pp. 98-100.
            • Kiesel, A. (2020). Does the brain unconsciously process 95% of information? Mind and Brain, 100, pp. 60-61.
            • Prince M, Taylor W, Warren H, Pressey H. (1927). The subconscious. In WS Taylor. Readings in Abnormal Psychology and Mental Hygiene (pp. 474–491). United States: D Appleton & Company.
            • Quiroga, deputy (2015). CG Jung: Life, work and psychotherapy. Bilbao: Brouwer descent.
            • OnlineSánchez, T. (2003). Psychoanalysis and Psychology: Convergence or Confrontation. Madrid: New Library.
            • OnlineSánchez, T. (2014). What is psychosomatics: from the silence of emotions to illness. Madrid: New Library.

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