THE DUALITY OF CONSCIOUS AND SUBCONSCIOUS MIND. PART ONE.
This blog brings to an end the series of blogs the dualities of life. When I began this series, I didn’t have a set plan for it. Each blog arose organically from the previous blog. However, when I look back, I think it befitting that it should end with the duality of conscious and subconscious mind because it is the primary duality underneath all the dualities discussed so far. Upon little reflection, I also realised that this sequence of dualities and its climax too were decided by my own subconscious mind. Thus, while my conscious mind composed each of these blogs, my subconscious mind was feeding it the necessary material. Therefore, when the time to end the series arose, my subconscious mind pushed itself into the forefront, jostling around to be noticed. It is as if, like a pampered but long neglected child, my subconscious mind has forcefully taken a centre stage in demanding an exclusive attention. Being a novelist who depends on the subconscious mind to weave the stories, I have decided to submit myself to its dictat .
Flippancy apart, I sincerely believe that the fact that we have two compartments of our mind defines the essence of human life. Had Nature made the human mind that was completely unified and integrated, we would have been reduced to to exceptional machines. However, Nature, in its wisdom, has made the human mind with partly unified but partly independent compartments. As a result, we, as a species, are governed by this dichotomy of conscious and subconscious ways of thinking. The key point is that these two compartments think differently and more importantly, divergently. It is this divergence that results in all types of dualities discussed earlier in this series of blogs. In this blog , I would discuss the science and the psychology of the conscious and subconscious mind.
As far as science is concerned, there is no explanation of why do these different compartments of our mind have evolved in our brains. In fact, the theory of evolution is silent on the relationship between mind and brain. Therefore, it has much less to say on the division of mind into conscious and subconscious modules. However, there is an indirect explanation for different functioning of our conscious and subconscious mind. During the course of evolution, particularly from monkeys to men, there is a direct evidence of increase in the size of brain vis a vis the size of body. In parallel to this, there are enough indications that animals in each lineage developed more and more cognitive functions. Thus, there is a simple correlation between the brain size and the cognitive capacity. However, this correlation stops when we compare monkeys with men. Human beings have far larger brain than the one required for our body size. Perhaps, it is this spare cognitive capacity that must made evolution of subconscious mind possible. There is an another hint why this is true. Most of the cognitive functions have evolved in the context of the environment. Therefore, these functions are in sync with the environment. However, this is not true for the cognitive functions present in the subconscious mind. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that the subconscious didn’t evolve in response to the demands of the environment. In that case, it is more probable that our subconscious mind must have evolved because of the spare capacity of our larger brain. This makes sense because our subconscious mind doesn’t focus on the world outside but on the conscious mind itself. In fact, our subconscious mind sees the world only through our conscious mind. In terms of modern day jargon, it is tempting to think of our subconscious mind works as backup for our conscious mind.
However, this is not true because while every single details that our conscious mind registers, it’s subconscious counterpart is present, the context and interpretation of each of these details is different in both these locations. Thus, if you happen to like a particular song, it is registered in the conscious mind in the form of its tune, its lyrics etc. On the other hand, the same song is registered in the subconscious mind by its mood, the occasion when you last heard it etc. Thus, when you hear that song again, there are conflicting recollections in your mind, some from your conscious mind and some from your subconscious mind. The key point is that these recollections are not in harmony and you experience a melangé of feelings. Therefore, the true understanding of the need for the existence of these two compartment must come from psychology and not from biology.
In the second part of this blog, I would discuss the psychological perspective of the need for the separation of conscious and subconscious mind.