Debate and Discussion

The Subconscious Mind: Superhuman Entity, or Basic Programming?
KingRidley at 9:56PM, Nov. 9, 2008
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I was giving some thought to the subconscious mind last night. Mostly thinking about what we suspect it is capable of.

Now I don't know how much of this is really true, but apparently we think that the subconscious mind remembers every event of our lives, in detail. We think that it constantly works to solve moral and ethical dilemmas- problems with no real setup or solution, or even “real” value (morality and ethics don't exist past our own minds). We think it notices almost invisible details about other humans in order to communicate with them subconsciously, and tell us what mood they're in or what their personality is or whatever. We think that it uses dreams to solve our waking problems, then communicate the solutions for (or at least acknowledgment of) the problems. And even in some cases, we think that the subconscious is capable of doing complicated emotional or practical work behind our veil of perception, then giving us whatever answers it comes up with.

After extreme stress, we think that it is capable of breaking in many ways. Insanity when it's just ruined. Social disorders as a way to justify or protect against complicated emotions. It blocks memories from us, and in rare cases will create a new consciousness to fulfill some need- usually anything from repressed sexual desires to, in one case, a suicidal guard against unlocking repressed information.

We think it is capable of doing all of these things so quickly that it makes nanoseconds look slow.


Now I combined these thoughts with what I know about consciousness. While the myth about only using 10% of our brains is false (the brain is always completely active, some parts are just busier than others), we still know that most of it is apparently used for life support, and only a little bit is used for thought and memory retention. In all of our studies of the brain, we have never been able to find the physical or metaphorical seat of the soul.

Let's say that the subconscious mind IS part of the physical brain. It is obviously vastly superior to our conscious minds in almost every way. It's faster, more attentive, smarter, etc. We also know that the conscious and subconscious mind supposedly do not communicate, and when they do, it's usually the subconscious sending us confusing and mixed up bits of information through dreams, and most of the time we don't know what to do with it (although we forget that we also indirectly communicate back with it- it listens in to whatever we do, think, or say).

So why don't the two minds “talk” to each other? Why are they arranged the way they are, with the weaker mind doing all the work and the stronger mind pulling strings and throwing rocks from behind a mental fog? And if the subconscious is capable of all that we think it is, and it's using what small amount of brainpower is being allotted to it, then what in God's name are we toting around inside our skulls for all our lives? What purpose does it serve, why is it there, what does it want, etc. I can't find the right way to word this, but I guess the closest thing to it is: What the hell is the subconscious doing, and why?


And a question directly to everyone here: When talking in your head, does anyone else catch themselves saying “we” instead of “me?” Like instead of “I need to eat” or “Man I need to go” I find myself thinking “We need to eat” and “We need to go.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
mike_mcpeeper at 4:33AM, Nov. 10, 2008
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KingRidley
And a question directly to everyone here: When talking in your head, does anyone else catch themselves saying “we” instead of “me?” Like instead of “I need to eat” or “Man I need to go” I find myself thinking “We need to eat” and “We need to go.”

:nervous:And these ‘voices’ in your head? How often do they talk to you?
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:01PM
Faliat at 8:18AM, Nov. 10, 2008
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I often wonder if the subconscious is also capable of predicting the future. Many times I've had small snippets of realistic dreams involving random minor situations or experiences.
They stand out particularly because when I usually dream, they're usually WAY out there. Causing operation mindfuck in most people I mention them to. (I mean, zombie dinosaurs, talking skull-shaped plug-sockets that are trying to eat your fingers, singing viking longboats, plastic surgery being simplified through the art of knitting strips of skin together, being able to walk through the digestive tract of a dead sperm whale like it's one of those crazy funfair rides where you have to go over all those moving obstacles and things, people breaking down into shards of metal and sand at will and not being able to change back, etc… If those aren't mind-boggling I dunno what!)

Anyway, because they stand out so much against the random and alien dreams I usually have, these more realistic ones stand out just as much considering they're more rare. Some are of places I've never been to, people I've never seen or heard of, situations I've never been in. Some actually seem a bit off to be predictions of my future, but these happen!

And they don't happen very close in time either. It takes weeks, months even YEARS before they happen, but I see, hear and feel it. Right down to the vocal pitches of people talking to me or a topic of conversation we happened to have at the exact same moment certain things happened.

I started realising I was having these when I was about 15. The first one being when my mum and I rushed through the Sainsburys at the Braehead shopping centre and she knocked a black dress off it's hook and asked me to quickly pick it up. I've forgotten what we were rushing for, but I could remember everything around me at the same instance aso happening in a dream I'd had when I was 14. The Band Aid 20 single playing over the radio, a little girl having a tantrum behind me, stuff like that.
Hell, the band aid 20 single wasn't even OUT when I dreampt it up a year earlier.
I found it particularly memorable because I was confused after having that one about the Darkness doing a cover of “Do they know it's Christmas” even though they only had a small part in it and those were the few seconds that played while I picked up the dress and put it back on the rack in a hurry.
If it wasn't for that I'd say it was just me dreaming about a random event with some events in it that happened a few times already.

I try not to think about these things, usually. It only makes me realise what kinds of amusing little things I'll lose if I die and it turns out there's nothing but a great void waiting for me.


And in response fo KR's question:

Yeah. I do get that voice in my head saying we instead of I. His name's Steve. He's mental. Don't give him what he wants and he can give me painful headaches.
I'M NOT JOKING!!!

Call that jumped up metal rod a knife?
Watch mine go straight through a kevlar table, and if it dunt do the same to a certain gaixan's skull in my immediate vicinity after, I GET A F*****G REFUND! BUKKO, AH?!

- Rekkiy (NerveWire)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:25PM
bravo1102 at 12:11PM, Nov. 10, 2008
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faliat
Yeah. I do get that voice in my head saying we instead of I. His name's Steve. He's mental. Don't give him what he wants and he can give me painful headaches.
I'M NOT JOKING!!!

I'll try to get him to stop. We have the same first name so he occasionally listens to me.

For me my internal voice are my muses. They speak to me of art and ideas and they're always working. I kind of like the idea of nine beautiful women in diaphanous robes giving me my inspiration. Sometimes they don't speak to me when my creative juices dry up. Then I put it on the subconscious backburner,it stews and the muse comes back with inspiration and answers. After watching the movie Dogma well if muses look like this…




Why the heck not? That's her trying to convince me that it really is a good idea…
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
isukun at 2:33PM, Nov. 10, 2008
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If using the computer metaphor, I tend to equate the subconscious with the hard drive. It stores basic past experience, learned “facts”, and favored reactions to stimulus. The conscious mind serves as more of the RAM and CPU of the body. Emotions, input/output, and personal thoughts run in the foreground, with background apps controlling the basic functions of the body that we believe we perform without thinking.

We are almost constantly pulling data from the subconscious. It is what defines us, personality-wise and we rarely question it. Still, our conscious minds have to deal with a lot in any particular moment. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and interpreting the major senses and deciding how to react to them. When we process data, we may retrieve it from the subconscious, but we process it and interpret it in the conscious mind.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
kyupol at 3:10PM, Nov. 10, 2008
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“superhuman”? I disagree with that.

I think the subconscious mind is more of a part of being human. Because we all have it in us.
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:26PM
KingRidley at 6:26PM, Nov. 10, 2008
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mike_mcpeeper
:nervous:And these ‘voices’ in your head? How often do they talk to you?
This made me chuckle.

Pretty much I mean your inner-narrator. It's your voice in your head saying what you think.

I gave more thought to it, and realized that I mostly do it when it concerns my body and my mind. But I usually say “I” when it only concerns my mind, like making a purchase that won't keep me from dying.


Faliat
I often wonder if the subconscious is also capable of predicting the future. Many times I've had small snippets of realistic dreams involving random minor situations or experiences.
This brings up something interesting for me. Well, two things.

1. My dreams don't ever feel crazy or ‘random.’ They always seem to be more like a story, or like they are genuinely trying to make sense. They still have the metaphorical meanings, but for the most part they are all logical and follow a well defined plot. Hell, I've even written short stories about some of them.

2. When there is water in my dreams, it is always deep, and it is always calm. I figure this means that I'm emotionally complex, and emotionally stable. Also, more than once, I have ‘cheated’ in a drowning dream. By that, I mean that I realized it was a dream, took a single breath, and went right back into ‘drowning’ mode, albeit much calmer.


isukun
If using the computer metaphor, I tend to equate the subconscious with the hard drive. It stores basic past experience, learned “facts”, and favored reactions to stimulus. The conscious mind serves as more of the RAM and CPU of the body. Emotions, input/output, and personal thoughts run in the foreground, with background apps controlling the basic functions of the body that we believe we perform without thinking.
Oh this is a great metaphor. Even still, I can't help but look at the subconscious as some kind of spy/eavesdropper. In most cases we communicate with it either ‘chemically’ (basic bodily needs), or accidentally/unintentionally. It knows everything about us, but we don't really know anything about it.


kyupol
I think the subconscious mind is more of a part of being human. Because we all have it in us.
Well yeah, of course we all have a subconscious. That's not the point. We think it can do so many outlandishly powerful things, and all on a daily basis.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
kyupol at 6:53PM, Nov. 10, 2008
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this world isn't all there is.

And speaking of a subconscious mind, I've been feeling very uneasy lately.

I feel that SOMETHING BIG is gonna happen. I'm not sure if that big thing has to do with my personal life, some political event, or what have you.

The point is, its giving me this sense of urgency and its making me feel restless. That “voice” is telling me a combination of “something big's gonna happen and you gotta be ready for it. Also, its time for you to move on.”

And that “voice” doesn't speak in an audible format that can be picked up by your ear drum.

Its just there. Telling me. Something.

And I feel that I do not have enough intellect to fully comprehend its message.
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:26PM
KingRidley at 7:03AM, Nov. 11, 2008
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dude that just sounds like your average run-of-the-mill paranoia to me. Everyone feels that way every now and then, doesn't usually mean anything.


But, you bring up another point. Can the subconscious pick up signals from some kind of ‘other world’? And how often is this sense of foreboding really just a mental glitch?


Take for example a video I saw recently on youtube. Well, a few videos. Stuff saying that on July 20th and October 14th, we were going to be contacted by aliens. These groups didn't sound like cults, and they weren't asking for money, so I just ignored them. Needless to say we have not been contacted by spaceships too big to entirely see on either date. But these groups pay no attention to that, their ‘leaders’ just tell them “Whoops humans made a mistake don't worry they'll wait for the entire species to change its behavior and act like us.”

Now whatever these guys believe is screwing with their lives. It overrides their conscious abilities to think and decide for themselves in many cases, but they're fine with that. They are happy and content with the thought of waiting for the alien vessels to decide that humans are good enough to show up for. And on many levels, it's amazing that their perceptions of the world (or the perceptions of others) can be manipulated so extensively by their own minds.

Of course I think that if aliens were real and had visited Earth, they would either just come down and say Hi or they'd not show themselves at all. None of this “flashing lights in the sky” or “My uncle got an anal probe.” I think that aliens are real, but that they have never visited or even heard of Earth.

“The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.” -Terry Pratchett
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
bravo1102 at 9:13AM, Nov. 11, 2008
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There is no seperation between the subconscious and the conscious. They are constantly speaking to each other as this is your cognitive process. Since the thoughts in your mind are vast you cannot be aware of all of them simultaneously. Some things go on below the surface of that part of the mind which is dealing with day-to-day. The back-burner I referenced earlier.

This has come up many times in science and the arts. The answer eludes the conscious mind and is put on the back-burner. The subconscious processes it and comes up with the answer. For me it's my muses. They have spoken to me in dreams (you should see my dream diary, it's also my story idea book. I dream in a coherrant plot and even have credits on occasion) And also consciously. It is my voice, but somehow not my voice a different part of the grey matter that has been perculating while I've been typing or what have you.

It is part of Zen and Taoism and now Dylectical Behavioral Therapy as “mindfulness” where you concentrate on one aspect of your surroundings or one thought and block out all other conscious thoughts. Usually when you come out of the meditation my subconscious will perk up and say “Hey guess what! The other eight muses and I have come up with this great idea!”

By the way the feeling that something will happen is quite common. However, because of our thought process we only remember the times something happens and dismiss and forget all the times something doesn't happen. It is akin to a blind reading of your gut instinct. You forget all the times you thougth of your friend and he didn't call and only remember the time he did call and think it was precognition. Please read James Randi and Michael Shermer.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
ozoneocean at 8:25PM, Nov. 11, 2008
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I'm staying out of debate again, because I'm always right about everything anyway, so there's no more point for me to debate usually once I've said my piece :)
-As many of you are aware.

…But I'm bored with nothing to do at work and this is new and I haven't posted in it yet and KingRidley is wrong anyway. :)

———————————————–
Ok, seriously, to the point… Al non-joking/joking aside:

There's not really such a thing as “The Subconscious”. It was just a term invented to describe people's understanding of mind function back in the late 19thC. It gained cultural currency though and hung around like the “10% of our brain myth” that KingRidley rightly points out.

So… subconscious is really just a way we have of describing (in every day language), how our normal conscious mind actually works, like Bravo says, and sort of like Isukun says as well. It's the thinking part we're aware of that does ALL the processing, not some hidden back seat driver. The rest are static memories trapped in chemical stasis… sort off. We know memories do change, in that they're re-recoded each time they're recalled and sometimes similar things get mixed up with them (book or TV “experiences”, other people's anecdotes, similar experiences converging), and your mind processes all this and makes sense of it. That's how it works.

I think the main thing is the way the mind gets better at retrieval and organisation of information, and it gets better at making connections. Literally: connections are made and brain structure changes in the teeny tiny scale…
 
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cartoonprofessor at 12:30AM, Nov. 12, 2008
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Bravo has got it pretty correct, as far as I know anyway.

Many ‘Eastern’ beliefs say if we go deep enough into our ‘subconscious’ we join the ‘group-mind’ of the planet. And it is on this level that we are all indeed, All One.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
KingRidley at 8:27AM, Nov. 12, 2008
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I dunno, saying there's no subconscious then saying that we just use the ‘backburners’ of the mind or calling it the vast and hidden bits working as part of our conscious seem contradicting. We're not aware of what they do, right? They are often outside the control of our conscious thought, right? Sometimes they seem to be working independently, right? Isn't that almost the whole point of the subconscious? It's part of the mind that we don't control, aren't normally aware of, and it uses our mental resources to solve all sorts of problems for us. That, and it's not entirely conscious. Most of it is supposedly automatic functions, with a little bit of awareness to sort of keep track of things.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
bravo1102 at 5:14PM, Nov. 12, 2008
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You're trying to seperate two things that are one. One doesn't control the other as they're one thing. If you want to be in total touch with your subconscious practice deep meditation and study Zen, Tao, Buddhism, Hindusim and raise your awareness. (do not use any mind altering substances, they actually block true integration of the conscious and subconscious and fool you)

This is the mindfulness I referenced earlier. Without the philosophical and religious overtones it has come into psychological therapy as DBT (Dialectical behavioral therapy)

Sadly if you try to define these things and seek “conscious” control you will be sorely disappointed. As Ozone pointed out it's words. The mind really isn't seperate. Your mind is more than able to multitask by having the front burner; your here and now thought process; and the backburner, where you stash away files for the rest of the brain to mull over while you concentrate on the here and now.

Think about it as Ugh the caveman. Without a back burner where he could put big probelms to think about while he consciously concentrated on fighting that sabertooth cat, he wouldn't last very long would he?
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
ozoneocean at 8:53PM, Nov. 12, 2008
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I don't even think the “Back burner” analogy is right. As I say; you have the processing concious part, you have simple memory cells, and you have physical connections that are being made all the time. What you think of as the subconscious or back burners or muses or whatever is probably just a name for the process of the connection forming between the different parts of your brain, cells, neurons or whatever that have the needed info.

It's more a mechanical process than anything else.

I've got a good analogy for you then! :)
-So the “concious” mind is this professor guy that does all the thinking and writes the reports and things. Then the memories and stored info are his library. And what you think of as the subconscious is this research/archivist bloke whose job it is to follow orders of the prof and go and get all the books and articles he needs from the library and put them on the desk where her can more easily use them. SO while the proff is happily thinking and making up his paper to submit to a journal, the researcher is busy sorting through the old papers getting what's needed.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
bravo1102 at 6:00AM, Nov. 13, 2008
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I guess I'm so accustomed to using and hearing about the “backburner” analogy but your analogy is excellent. I remember reading it somewhere. I'll have to get myreasearch assistant on it it'll probably be a “Eureeka” moment. I love that story.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
KingRidley at 6:33AM, Nov. 14, 2008
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The library analogy makes me think of some huge cathedral filled with books and thousands of little researchers constantly rearranging everything and writing new books using the information from the old books and occasionally making some big discovery that they have to announce to the professor. And then sometimes they break down and books get spilled everywhere, or some of them get lost in the ‘adult’ section and don't bother coming out, or maybe they start giving the wrong information and send a new guy to beat up and temporarily replace the professor.

This is a fun analogy.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
cartoonprofessor at 3:57AM, Nov. 15, 2008
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KingRidley
temporarily replace the professor.
WHAT! NO!
Oops sorry… subconscious reaction. : )
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
bravo1102 at 9:41AM, Nov. 15, 2008
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cartoonprofessor
KingRidley
temporarily replace the professor.
WHAT! NO!
Oops sorry… subconscious reaction. : )

It's called changing your mind. :) Not many people do it, so cartoonprofessor you don't have to worry, once that analagous professor in our head gets tenure you rarely if ever change him (but not her; it is a woman's perogative to change her mind ;)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
KingRidley at 8:02PM, Nov. 16, 2008
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actually I was talking about multiple personalities but yeah that works too
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM

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