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Thread: the unconscious

  1. #1 the unconscious 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope
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    please excuse my ignorance but is a dream the same thing as the unconscious (I understand we are talking theories here but is that how it is generally understood?)

    Secondly , does the dream state have its own unconscious?

    I ask that question because I had a dream where I had forgotten the address of somebody and was (in this dream) walking through the town and hey presto I bumped into someone who said "oh by the way the number of that house is 27)

    To me (when I awoke) it seemed that that was a little too convenient and I wonder did my dream invent that meeting just to elicit the address?

    ie did my dream state have it's own subconscious state?


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  3. #2  
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    The challenge is that "subconscious" and "unconscious" are not really useful terms. Whether we are awake and aware, or asleep and dreaming, it's all related to activity of neurons in different parts of the brain. When we sleep, there is a process of reorganization taking place, wherein nerve connections are growing, and others are being severed. Information is consolidated and contextually mapped. I suspect that in this process, there was information being remapped which fed your dream, but unconsciousness (whether nested in a dream or not) is not really needed to explain it. That information was in there already, and for whatever reason you saw it the way you did in your dream.


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  4. #3  
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    thank you for that reply.
    So am I living in the past in that I assume the term subconscious is almost universally accepted as the basis of psychology?
    Has the discipline moved on whilst people like me adhere to the old terminology which seems to me to be practically embedded in popular consciousness ? ( is there such a thing as that also?)
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  5. #4  
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    It really depends on who you speak with, but I'm not personally aware of any publications which still use it as anything more than a poetic reference. It applies to those things which happen outside of consciousness, but that's a LOT of things, so I don't think it has a lot of utility. Note that I've been away from the trends in the field for quite some time, though.
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  6. #5 Re: the unconscious 
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief
    please excuse my ignorance but is a dream the same thing as the unconscious (I understand we are talking theories here but is that how it is generally understood?)
    After more than three decade of study, I can definitively say that dreaming is an unconscious experience and that dreams are how we consciously interpret that experience. There are states of brain function and influences upon that function. The unconscious, as suggested by dreaming, is an active state of brain function. As a state, it is quantified by activity suggestive of mentation. Studies of the dreaming brain show that it is as actively engaged as a brain that is consciously awake and aware. However, dreaming is the activity of a brain that is not conscious relative to its experiences and surroundings in physical/material reality; therefore, dreaming suggests the activity of an unconsciously engaged brain. Dreams are experiences that occur wholely within the brain and, as such, they are mental experiences. The imagery and scenarios amid sleep that we recall as dreams are how our waking-state brain interpret that mental experience.

    Secondly , does the dream state have its own unconscious?

    I ask that question because I had a dream where I had forgotten the address of somebody and was (in this dream) walking through the town and hey presto I bumped into someone who said "oh by the way the number of that house is 27)

    To me (when I awoke) it seemed that that was a little too convenient and I wonder did my dream invent that meeting just to elicit the address?
    The dreaming state is the unconscious; therefore, it isn't unlikely to be unconsciously aware of information that is not uppermost in our conscious memory.

    ie did my dream state have it's own subconscious state?
    As a state, the subconscious does not exist. Rather than an attribute of the mind, subconscious more aptly describes an influence of or upon the mind. In relative terms, if the unconscious was a house, its furnishings and visitors would describe the subconscious influences therein. In your dream, you define consciousness as it relates to the essential essence of awareness. The person who gave you that house number describes a subconscious influence upon your awareness within the unconscious state or experience of dreaming. Dreams are products of the unconscious. I hope this helps.
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    Nice post. Thanks, DrmDoc.

    I could probably summarize my own replies as, "The brain is an extremely busy place, but we're only conscious of some tiny percentage of its activities at any given time. All of those other activities which are not in our consciousness are unconscious. That's a lot of stuff, though, so the term is not entirely helpful or descriptive."
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  8. #7 Re: the unconscious 
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    The dreaming state is the unconscious; therefore, it isn't unlikely to be unconsciously aware of information that is not uppermost in our conscious memory.
    I hope this helps.
    well it is very helpful of you but I am not sure that it is easy for me to understand (probably to be expected).Perhaps your post will repay study if I supplement it with a bit of extra reading around the subject.
    But did you slip in an extra negative into that sentence by mistake?
    Was it meant to read "isn't likely " instead of "isn't unlikely" ?
    Otherwise it breaks down to "is likely" doesn't it?
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  9. #8 Re: the unconscious 
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief
    Quote Originally Posted by DrmDoc
    The dreaming state is the unconscious; therefore, it isn't unlikely to be unconsciously aware of information that is not uppermost in our conscious memory.
    I hope this helps.
    well it is very helpful of you but I am not sure that it is easy for me to understand (probably to be expected).Perhaps your post will repay study if I supplement it with a bit of extra reading around the subject.
    But did you slip in an extra negative into that sentence by mistake?
    Was it meant to read "isn't likely " instead of "isn't unlikely" ?
    Otherwise it breaks down to "is likely" doesn't it?
    It is likely that you are unconsciously aware of more information than your are consciously; therefore, to dream about information you have consciously forgotten is not unusual. I hope this helps.
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  10. #9  
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    "Unconscious" just means the stuff going on in the brain which "you" are not aware of. Of course it's really all "you". "You" conversationally means that select bit of the brain that may reflectively engage a similarly select bit of another's brain, like mine. How we balance on bicycles is our own business.

    Consciousness may play a funny game of unconsciousness denial because it can't - by definition - observe anything it isn't conscious of.

    Things forgotten become unconscious. Dreams are normally forgotten. So when our conscious, waking minds probe to recall dreams we find a murky muddle of unconsciousness. Wasn't it more conscious just a minute ago?

    Quote Originally Posted by geordief
    To me (when I awoke) it seemed that that was a little too convenient and I wonder did my dream invent that meeting just to elicit the address?
    Consider yourself lucky. My dreams often stumble on petty little snags, spoiling a good storyline. Like, "No, walrus can't possibly live in the Caribbean, I've got to re-think this..." then I dream on about the qualities of walrus blubber and no happy associations come of that I'll tell you.

    I think your dream just benefitted from a little overzealous can-do attitude, which rebounded on waking to self-criticism.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  11. #10  
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    thanks .that was interesting.Maybe I chose my words too loosely .

    Would my question have had any more substance if I had asked whether the dream (and unconscious activity in general ) had layers (not its own subconscious) ?

    You know how when you are thinking or talking about something and an idea comes up to add to your train of thought and you realise there must have been something going on in your brain in the background?

    Well could the dream (in this instance) have had its own background stuff?

    Clearly , if the dreaming state is entirely random , that would not be possible .

    If the unconscious is simply what we are unaware of then it follows ,doesn't it, that dreams that we can remember later,(and perhaps those we can no longer remember also) were also , at the time conscious experiences ( even if limited ).

    So might they also have their own subterranean structure or do their limitations rule that out?
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  12. #11  
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    My favourite illustration of unconsciousness is the tying of shoelaces. Learning to tie shoelaces is a keenly conscious activity. However the instructing adults no longer consciously understand how it's done, and merely replay their unconscious routine as demonstration, perhaps in slow-motion.

    That's not to say children are unconscious. The toddler engaged in tying shoelaces is meanwhile unconscious of just how she recognises the end of a lace, and grabs it. That was prior consciousness (when she was a baby) now buried deep.

    So I absolutely agree with you about unconsciousness having layers.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief
    thanks .that was interesting.Maybe I chose my words too loosely .

    Would my question have had any more substance if I had asked whether the dream (and unconscious activity in general ) had layers (not its own subconscious) ?

    You know how when you are thinking or talking about something and an idea comes up to add to your train of thought and you realise there must have been something going on in your brain in the background?

    Well could the dream (in this instance) have had its own background stuff?

    Clearly , if the dreaming state is entirely random , that would not be possible .

    If the unconscious is simply what we are unaware of then it follows ,doesn't it, that dreams that we can remember later,(and perhaps those we can no longer remember also) were also , at the time conscious experiences ( even if limited ).
    So might they also have their own subterranean structure or do their limitations rule that out?
    More precisely, there is conscious awareness and unconscious awareness. The dreaming state is the state of unconscious brain function and awareness. To experience a dream is to experience the unconscious state of brain function and awareness. Everything we perceive in a dream describes something we perceive unconsciously--meaning something we have encountered on a level of perception that has escaped our conscious notice or awareness. Subconscious is what we call the perceptions that have escape our conscious awareness. The imagery and experiences in our dreams describe those perceptions and influences that affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviors beneath our conscious awareness.

    To be clear, unconscious is the overall state of dream experience while subconscious describes the influences within that state. Regarding the "background stuff" in dreams, it is all background because it is all subconscious influence within the unconscious state--that vase on a stand next to a walk in a dream are all subconscious influences. Within a dream, our unconscious awareness is operant; when we awake, our operant awareness is conscious. When we awake with memories of a dream, those memories are how we consciously interpret our unconscious experience.
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