Role of the preconscious mind

Preconscious memories are unrepressed memories that we extract for a specific purpose.

The preconscious mind contains all the things that you could potentially pull into conscious awareness. The preconscious is also controlling the information that is allowed to enter into conscious awareness.

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Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud was the founder of the psychoanalytic theory. His work had a profound influence on psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, and even art.

When Freud formed his personality development theory, he relied heavily upon the observations and case studies of his patients.

Freud believed that behaviour and personality came from the interaction of conflicting psychological forces that works at three levels of awareness:

  • Preconscious. It consists of anything that could potentially be brought into the conscious mind.
  • Conscious mind. It contains all the thoughts, memories, feelings, and wishes we are aware of at any given moment.
  • Unconscious mind. It is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that we are not consciously aware of. In includes unacceptable or unpleasant feelings, such as pain, anxiety, or conflict.

The conscious and unconscious minds can be understood by what is known as a slip of the tongue.

Misstatements are believed to reveal underlying, unconscious thoughts or feelings. For example, a man who accidentally uses a former girlfriend's name when referring to a current girlfriend.

According to Freud, thoughts and emotions outside of our awareness continue to influence our behaviour, even if we are unaware of it. The unconscious can include repressed feelings, hidden memories, habits, thoughts, desires, and reactions.

Freud used dream analysis and free association techniques to attempt to identify the roots of psychological distress.

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Repression as a defense mechanism

Repression can best be defined as the psychological defense mechanism that involves pushing undesired thoughts into the unconscious in order to not think about them anymore.

While our consciousness keeps the thoughts and feelings we want to be aware of, the unconscious mind holds our entire history which, without the help of repression, might actually lead us to psychological distress.

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Repression: A Primer

Repression in psychological terms is a defence mechanism that involves keeping our feelings, thoughts and urges out of our conscious awareness. Our unacceptable desires are kept away from our consciousness so that we are less anxious.

It is a process by which painful and disturbing thoughts are intentionally hidden, and was first identified by Sigmund Freud. He compared the mind to an iceberg, where only the tip is visible and the major portion is hidden.

Personality Psychology: Important Terminology
  • Classical conditioning: A behavioural technique where a natural stimulus is paired with a previously neutral stimulus. The previously neutral stimulus eventually cause the response without pairing it to the natural stimulus.
  • Operant conditioning: A behaviour training technique where punishments or reinforcements influence behaviour.
  • Unconscious: The container for feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories.
  • Id: The personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy used to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires.
  • Ego: The unconscious part of the personality that moderates the id's demands, the superego, and reality.
  • Superego: The part of personality composed of our internalised ideals that comes from our parents and society.

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