How the Unconscious Mind Works.
Psychoanalytic theorists have repeatedly suggested that there exist two aspects of the human brain affecting how humans act. According to these theorists, in addition to the normal perceived brain functions, some functions beyond our normal awareness remotely dictate our actions. Howard Gardner and L. S. Ramachandran are pioneers in the study of how the conscious and unconscious of the brain affect people’s ways of life. Both experts in psychoanalysis tried to explain how the unconscious mind affects people’s behavior. Understanding the effects of the unconscious on behavior is a difficult task. The notion that the unconscious mind has a certain influence on an individual’s behavior is not yet fully understood.
The mind works differently among different individuals. Different individuals have different perceptions of what is true. The role of the unconscious and conscious mind in society has not been fully exploited. Most individuals in society ignore the fact that the unconscious mind has an immense role to play in the way people behave. There are thus some connections between our experiences and our resultant behaviors. The society’s understanding of basic concepts is driven by present circumstances. The subconscious influences each person in a different way. John Bargh and Ezequiel Morsella state that individual’s behavior in modern society is influenced by the present context (Bargh and Morsella 2008). Due to the different social contexts and experiences, people will have different perceptions of reality. The understanding of each individual will be limited to his or her own experiences. These differences make the concept of reality different from one society to the other. It also causes differences in perceptions of what is true among different people. According to Bargh and Morsella, the past, our education and evolution of society influence the way we think (Bargh and Morsella 2008). Since our perceptions of reality today are not influenced by the subconscious, our minds tend to distort useful information and keep that which is deemed important at that particular time. Our preferences for certain things over others are not based on the truth but rather on our feelings and instincts. Our admittance of factual statements is thus based only on our individual perceptions. Reality is therefore a relative topic that depends on context and individual perceptions. Communities or groups of people have different interpretations of what reality is, since people have different perceptions. Truth varies from one person to the other. What one views as true is quite different from another person’s perception. Truth is thus a circumstantial and relative position taken by individuals and is influenced by context. Life and reality are flexible. The context and circumstances people find themselves in influence their general perceptions about life. The experiences one goes through in life direct their thoughts and views about reality. Reality was once based on other people’s beliefs it is however now guided by a person’s natural setting and social context. Truth is a concept that is undergoing transformation and has been changing all over the years. As the world evolves and countries experience economic advancement individuals are faced with many choices on what is true and what is not. Cultural exchanges, changing ways of life and evolution of ideas have changed people’s perspectives on what is the truth. What was considered the truth in the past has nowadays not.
Ramachandra’s view on the consciousness of the human brain serves to reinforce my view that human beings are influenced by the subconscious in their daily lives. In the first chapter of A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness, he states that the subconscious of a person may drive them to believe that they have imaginary (Phantom) limbs even if they do not have them. He states that the functions of the human brain are important in determining why some people possess some peculiar behavioral trends. This is quite similar to my views about truth and reality. Like Ramachandran, I stated that people’s views about truth and reality is guided by their perceptions, which were shaped by their ways of life or past experiences. He however allows me to understand the works of the unconscious mind in shaping the way people think. The subconscious has an important role to play in the way people perceive or view certain things. The society or experiences only serve to influence the subconscious. Thus people’s actions and understanding are varied because they had different past experiences. Ramachandran poses the ‘Nature or Nurture’ question to begin the inquiry into the factors that influence the working of the subconscious (Ramachandran, 10).
New advances in neuroscience have a great role to play in discovering new dimensions in the functions of the human mind. There is a lot of undiscovered work in brain functions as psychoanalysts have proven repeatedly. Advancements in neuroscience will assist people to delve deeper into the functions of the brain and gain a comprehensive understanding of the interplay of the subconscious with our daily actions. These developments will enable me to understand the core concepts behind the differences between different people’s perceptions on truth and reality. These advances should be able to identify the inherent ability in our subconscious that makes us do the extraordinary. One such example of the work of the subconscious is depicted in an animation film. In the ninth episode of the fifth season of the animation film Futurama, Leila faces a similar situation where her mind is controlled by her past perceptions even after being in a coma for two weeks. The subconscious in her keeps working for these two weeks even though she herself is not aware of what is going on. The work of the subconscious in this movie portrays a supernatural sense in that while she is in a coma, her subconscious can pick events happening around her such as Fry’s call for her to wake up. These are relayed through her thoughts in a form of dreams even tough they happen in reality (Futurama 1999).
Howard Gardner’s seven intelligences are important factors that can be used separately to judge one’s intelligence (Gardner 2011). His division of intelligence into several aspects that cover every aspect of a person’s intelligence enables psychologists and other people to take into account people’s different capabilities. These inherent intelligence measures allow people to gauge their capabilities based on the areas they are most endowed. Gardner provided benchmarks through which psychoanalysts can view people’s intelligence as unique functions of the brain. The understanding and overall knowledge of these intelligences will create skilled people with multiple intelligences. For example, while having visual spatial skills will enable you to be more skilled in drawings and architecture an additional intelligence in logical-mathematical intelligence will supplement the skills gained and enable the individual to be more proficient in their profession. Gardner’s intelligences can be used to develop a highly comprehensive educational system that assesses students based on their inherent capabilities rather than the preset examinational assessment currently used. According to Gardner, the education system must also introduce strategies through which teaching can focus on developing the particular intelligence areas of the students rather than focusing on areas where they are not intellectually endowed.
The study of the brain is very important for the understanding of human behavior and the development of the intellectual ability of human beings. Psychoanalysis provides an avenue through which people and psychoanalysts can understand and develop their ways of thinking. This concept can also be used to develop the educational curriculum for all students to gain from the teaching methods.
Bargh, J.A. & Morsella, E. (2008). The unconscious mind. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(1), 73-79.
Groenig, M (Writer/director). (1999). The sting [Television Series episode]. Fox Broadcasting (producer). Futurama. West Pico, Los Angeles.
Ramachandran, V. S. (2004). A brief tour of human consciousness: From imposter poodles to purple numbers. New York: Pi Press.
Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.