unconscious, in psychology, that aspect of mental life that is separate from immediate consciousness and is not subject to recall at will. Sigmund Freud regarded the unconscious as a submerged but vast portion of the mind. In his view, the unconscious was composed of the id, which accounts for instinctual drives, acts as the motivating force in human behavior, and contains desires and wishes that the individual hides—or represses—from conscious recognition; and part of the superego, the system that acts to restrain and control id impulses. Conscious cognitive processes, such as thinking, are performed by the ego and part of the superego (see psychoanalysis). Conflict between conscious and unconscious impulses are said to give rise to anxiety, then to defense mechanisms, which counteract this anxiety. To tap the unconscious, Freud used a variety of techniques, including hypnosis, free association, and dream interpretation. C. G. Jung expanded on the Freudian concept, adding the idea of an inherited unconscious, known as the collective unconscious. The idea of the unconscious has been rejected by some psychological schools, although it is still used by many psychoanalysts. The term unconscious is also used to describe latent, or unretrieved, memories, or to describe stimuli too weak to enter an individual's conscious awareness.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Subconscious: Selected full-text books and articles

The Analytic Freud: Philosophy and Psychoanalysis By Michael P. Levine Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Moral Authenticity and the Unconscious" and Chap. 10 "Freud on Unconscious Affects, Mourning and the Erotic Mind"
The Unconscious By Antony Easthope Routledge, 1999
Implicit Cognition By Geoffrey Underwood Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Beyond Perception: Conceptual Contributions to Unconscious Influences of Memory"
The Unconscious as Infinite Sets: An Essay in Bi-Logic By Ignacio Matte Blanco Karnac Books, 1998 (Revised edition)
The Unconscious: A Conceptual Analysis By A. C. MacIntyre Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1958
FREE! The Subconscious By Joseph Jastrow Houghton Mifflin, 1906
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