BOZTEPE: Freud provides insight into our consciousness
Sigmund Freud argued that the dual system model of the mind was the most plausible explanation for how our consciousness works. Although his intuitions are often criticized today, his theories made waves in the psychological community and helped to lay the foundation, upon which all of modern psychology has been built.
I support Freud’s psychoanalytical theory that the mind is split into two or three sections if we consider the conscious, unconscious and preconscious. To build my argument I will describe the dual system model, Freudian slips, the defense mechanism, dream-works and distortions. Throughout my article, I will also analyze the plausibility of the dual mind theory and summarizing the key concepts.
The consciousness holds the least amount of the information in your mind and is analogous to a scanning machine. The conscious mind takes the information presented to it, considers if it needs to react and the level of importance of this event, then determines whether to store it within the preconscious or unconscious mind.
Simply put, aside from being the gateway of storing information in accordance to its importance to you, it is also the information or thoughts that you are presently aware of. Freud compares the conscious mind to the ego, the outer image of yourself that gives out orders like a manager to their assistants.
In this analogy, the preconscious and unconscious would be the assistants, those who are actually responsible for finishing the assignment. The conscious mind is the one that communicates to the outside world through speech, physical actions, writing and pictures.
The preconscious mind holds the most information in your mind as well as many of the facts and memories you know of, but are not actively engaged with through your conscious mind. The reason that the information stored here is available for recall is because the thoughts within the preconscious are not repressed.
To add to this Freud said, “If it should turn out that a certain censorship also determines whether the preconscious becomes conscious, we shall discriminate more sharply between the systems Pcs and Cs,” meaning that since the ideas in the preconscious do not have to be censored nor are they repressed emotions, they bare the most resemblance to the conscious ideas and emotions which in my view are a reasonable explanation on how the consciousness can pull information from the preconscious mind.
Due to this I understand the preconscious to be the most important level of the three since it acts as the intermediary between the conscious and unconscious minds. When in communication with the conscious mind the preconscious mind filters the repressed feelings and urges and provides people with their meaning and persona such as their imagination, beliefs and behaviors.
I believe this is a very plausible explanation to defend the dual mind theory, and the intermediary role the preconscious plays could explain why we can remember events with simply hearing a specific name or location which can trigger traces of a memory that can become at least partially conscious once again.
The unconscious mind is where all of the memories and past experiences we have had are stored with the caveat that unlike the memories and information in the preconscious mind, these memories are repressed through trauma.
To elaborate Freud said, “A very great part of this preconscious material originates in the unconscious, has the characteristics of derivatives of the unconscious and is subject to a censorship before it can pass into the consciousness.”
In Freud’s view, we should view the unconscious mind as the underground cellar made to withstand even the harshest damage. The thoughts within this section are consciously forgotten, and it is from these memories and experiences that our long-term beliefs, habits and fears are formed. All of our deep-rooted emotions are stored here and have been there since birth.
The importance and intricacies of the unconscious mind will be discussed further when we touch on repression, the Freudian slip and dream-works.
Freud did a good job of capturing the nuances we experience as human beings within ourselves. We often can feel fractured as if there are pieces of ourselves even we are not aware of. I find it highly plausible that we as human beings, for the most part, share this intuition: that there are parts of our minds we ourselves cannot access.
The split between the conscious, preconscious and unconscious minds resemble a phenomenon most human beings experience. Although Freud’s work is often called into question, these objections often point to the unfalsifiable nature of his claims, rather than the content of the claims themselves.
To me, this shows a lack of disagreement with the sentiments posited by Freud and more of a resistance to blind faith as a concept. We may not be able to prove Freud’s points beyond a reasonable doubt, but we should recognize the ways in which his theories provide an understanding to the intricacies of human consciousness.
Kaan Jon Boztepe is a School of Arts and Sciences senior double majoring in philosophy and history. His column, "Kaanotations," runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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