Various observers throughout history have argued that there are influences on consciousness from other parts of the mind. These observers differ in the use of related terms, including: unconsciousness as a personal habit; being unaware and intuition. Terms related to semi-consciousness include: awakening, implicit memory, the subconscious, subliminal messages, trance, and hypnosis. Whilst sleep, sleep walking, delirium and coma may signal the presence of unconscious processes, that is different from an unconscious mind. Science is also in its infancy in exploring the limits of consciousness.

Historical overview

The idea of an unconscious mind originated in antiquity and has been explored across cultures. It was recorded between 2500 and 600 B.C in the Hindu texts known as the Vedas, found today in Ayurvedic medicine. In the Vedic worldview, consciousness is the basis of physiology and pure consciousness is "an abstract, silent, completely unified field of consciousness" within "an architecture of increasingly abstract, functionally integrated faculties or levels of mind".

Shakespeare explored the role of the unconscious in many of his plays, without naming it as such. Western philosophers such as Spinoza, Leibniz, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, developed a western view of mind which foreshadowed those of Freud though Schopenhauer was also influenced by his reading of the Vedas and the Jewish mysticism of the Kabbalah. Freud drew on his own Jewish roots to develop an interpersonal examination of the unconscious mind into an apparently new therapeutic intervention and its associated rationale, known as psychoanalysis.

Articulating the idea of something not conscious or actively denied to awareness with the symbolic constructs of language has been a process of human thought and interpersonal influence for millennia. Freud and his followers popularized unconscious motivation in a culture of the individual, of a self viewed as both separate and sufficient, which is a uniquely western world view akin to the survival of the fittest.

The resultant status of the unconscious mind may be viewed as a social construction - that the unconscious exists because people agree to behave as if it exists. Symbolic interactionism goes further and argues that people's selves (conscious and unconscious) though purposeful and creative are nevertheless social products .

Unconscious process and unconscious mind

Neuroscience is an unlikely place to find support for a proposition as adaptable as the unconscious mind. For example, "Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have found that fleeting images of fearful faces - images that appear and disappear so quickly that they escape conscious awareness - produce unconscious anxiety that can be detected in the brain with the latest neuroimaging machines." The conscious mind is hundreds of milliseconds behind those unconscious processes.

To understand that research a distinction has to be drawn between unconscious processes and the unconscious mind. They are not the same. Neuroscience is more likely to examine the former than the latter. The unconscious mind and its expected psychoanalytic contents are also different from unconsciousness, coma and a minimally conscious state. The differences in the uses of the term can be explained, to a degree, by different narratives about what we know. This is called epistemology - the study of knowledge - of how we know what we know. Science is as much a narrative as psychoanalysis and both rely on their own paradigm. One such paradigm is psychoanalytic theory

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This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Subliminal Messaging and Subliminal Learning. The Official Guide to Subliminal Messaging and Subliminal Learning is Bradley Thompson, one of the world's leading experts in the world of subliminal messaging. He is author of the best-selling books, “Developing your Own Subliminal-Studio”; “Be Psychic” and "Lucid Dreaming in Seven Days”. Bradley is also developer of the Subliminal Power tool, used by Olympic athletes and business leaders across the globe. Bradley runs his own weekly Self-Development Newsletter and continues to develop world-leading self-help tools. Some of Bradley's more recent contributions include Subliminal CDs; Instant Hypnosis downloads; The Absolute Secret and the Lucid Dreaming Kit Motivator software and more.

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