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The unconscious mind

Watch as Mark Solms explains that to say a mind is consciousness is not sufficient in itself. A large part of the mind operates without consciousness.

To say a mind is consciousness is not sufficient to define the mental. Sigmund Freud’s great discovery was that there’s a large part of the mind that operates without consciousness, and today this is a widely accepted fact among neuroscientists.

The mind operates unconsciously when we don’t need to know about how we feel about something; for example the route we take to work day after day becomes an unconscious act. There are also parts of our mental life that we don’t want to be conscious of – such as repressed memories which we push out of our consciousness because they are difficult to deal with (we’ll hear more about this last point in Week 6).

So the question as it pertains to unconscious mental acts is – what makes them mental? This is the question I introduce here, and discuss in detail next week.

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What is a Mind?

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