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What Is the Conscious Mind?

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conscious

The tip of the iceberg represents the conscious mind.

Image by historicair - Wikimedia commons
Definition:

In Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the conscious mind consists of everything inside of our awareness. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about in a rational way.

The conscious mind includes such things as the sensations, perceptions, memories, feeling and fantasies inside of our current awareness. Closely allied with the conscious mind is the preconscious, which includes the things that we are not thinking of at the moment but which we can easily draw into conscious awareness.

Things that the conscious mind wants to keep hidden from awareness are repressed into the unconscious mind. While we are unaware of these feelings, thoughts, urges and emotions, Freud believed that the unconscious mind could still have an influence on our behavior.

Freud often used the metaphor of an iceberg to describe the two major aspects of human personality. The tip of the iceberg that extends above the water represents the conscious mind. As you can see in the image at the right, the conscious mind is just the "tip of the iceberg." Beneath the water is the much larger bulk of the iceberg, which represents the unconscious.

While the conscious and preconscious are important, Freud believed that they were far less vital than the unconscious. The things that are hidden from awareness, he believed, exerted the greatest influence over our personalities and behaviors.

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Pronunciation: [kon-shuhs]
Also Known As: The Conscious Mind; Consciousness

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