Subconscious Versus Unconscious

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Your mind is an amazing thing that scientists have been learning about more and more every day. Humanity has come incredibly far simply by understanding the mind and figuring out how it responds to different situations.

For instance, you should know that there are different states of the mind, and the field of psychology has given it different names. The conscious mind, for instance, is the one that you are using to read this right now.

However, the subconscious and the unconscious minds are different. Understanding the difference between the subconscious vs. unconscious is not as simple. Let’s start with the conscious mind first to define the parameters.

The Conscious Mind

Consciousness is simply the state of being aware of your surroundings. The brainwaves that enter your brain when stimuli is received can be divided into four distinct categories. These are also known as the four states of consciousness.

They include the alpha, beta, delta, and theta brainwaves. Basically, being conscious means being aware of what’s happening around you. For instance, when you are conscious and you hear a sound, you are automatically able to perceive or estimate where it’s coming from.

Your brain then looks for information inside and identifies what it is that’s probably making the noise. When you are in deep sleep, your brain doesn’t bother with these noises.

The Human Brain

Now that you understand the conscious mind, it’s important to talk about the human brain. The human brain is a much more complex machine than most people realize. All of the other organs of the body simply send stimuli and information to the brain.

The complex neural network inside the brain is constantly arranging and rearranging new paths and building new connections. There are different parts of the brain that are responsible for analyzing information from different parts of the body.

For instance, the occipital lobe of the brain is responsible for processing the visual input sent by your eyes. This is only active when your conscious mind is working.

The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind is a different story. According to psychologists, the subconscious mind is the part of the brain that we have no awareness of. It is the part of the brain that’s processing information that we don’t know about.

For instance, when you have thoughts in your active memory, you are able to pull them out immediately and go through the scene. But, do you remember everything that happened in your life? Unless you have an eidetic memory, probably not.

However, all of this information is stored in your subconscious mind. A smell, going back to an old location, or just talking to someone who reminds you of the past brings those memories flooding back up.

This means that those memories were present in your mind all along, but they had been stored in a different place. Basically, the subconscious mind sees everything, but it filters out most of the stuff.

The Unconscious Mind

The unconscious mind is responsible for processing data that you do not know about, and probably never will, unless you experience extreme trauma.

For instance, as you go through these words, your brain is processing more than 40,000 neural impulses in one second. You are probably only aware of 5,000 of those, the rest are filtered into your unconscious mind.

Your unconscious mind is known to have pretty amazing powers; such as measuring gravity, temperature, and even the heart rate of the person sitting next to you. Then, there’s the emotional component, which includes trauma or your beliefs.

The bridge between your unconscious and your subconscious mind is made by the conscious mind.

Freud’s Analogy

In the beginning of his works, Freud used the terms interchangeably. However, he was not able to connect the two, so he rejected this term. Pierre Janet was responsible for highlighting the term.

The concept of the “unconscious mind” can be linked closely with the psychoanalysis of Freud. Friedrich Schelling was the one who coined the term.

Awareness – A Critical Concept

The information stored in your subconscious or your unconscious mind is not on the surface. However, there have been people who are able to access information from their subconscious mind or their unconscious mind, and have a heightened awareness.

For instance, if you are in a deep conversation with someone else and a car passes by, you might not consciously pay attention to it. However, if you try and recall it later, you might be able to remember the shape and the color of the car.

This is involuntary and is stored in your brain. Basically, the numerous memories that you collect throughout your childhood ultimately contribute to the kind of person you become in this day and age.


Freud was one of the first psychologists who stated that the unconscious can be divided into two separate things: the id, or your instincts, and the superego, which is your conscience. According to Freud, these two are constantly fighting with each other.

The unconscious mind only consists of things that are actively repressed from a person’s memory.


There are some pretty clear examples that one can use to signify the difference between the unconscious and the subconscious mind. For instance, when talking about the subconscious, here’s an example: You might remember a feeling of jealousy toward a sibling when they were growing up. But, you can’t remember why.

Maybe it’s because your sibling got better privileges or benefits.

For the unconscious, here’s an example: you don’t like eating broccoli. Just the mere sight of broccoli being put in front of you is enough to turn you off or cause nausea.

Yet, you are not able to figure out why that is. Maybe it’s because when you were a child, your parents forcefully made you eat it. Maybe they wouldn’t let you get up from the table until you had eaten all your veggies.

The Bridge Between the Two

We have already touched above on the fact that your conscious mind forms the bridge between the two. Human consciousness is roughly 5% presence and 95% of it is just recall from the information that is stored in your brain.

Here’s a way to imagine how this works: think about waking up one morning and not knowing basic concepts such as shapes, trees, or cars. You wake up one day and you realize that you are unable to understand what all of these things are or how they work.

Your mind, however, bridges the gap between your subconscious and your unconscious. It is what creates a gap and helps you recall things from both your unconscious and your subconscious parts of the brain.

The Beauty of the Mind

At the end of the day, it’s easy to say that we are all living in our separate realities. They are shaped by our beliefs and our upbringing, and the individual events that we all went through.

Since no two people have a similar upbringing, it’s easy to say that we are all living separate realities.


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