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Subconscious Mind is a Real Theoretical Construct, but NOT
A Real Thing within Mortal Bodies. "Subconscious Mind"
is a Story to Explain Unconscious, Unwitting Behavior

Dr. Matt,

My name is Kent. I'm 18 years old and from Wapakoneta, Ohio. I'm currently enrolled in a psychology class. We're studying the subconscious mind. I am learning how the subconscious mind drives our lives, and how every idea is a seed planted into our subconscious mind. I have an assignment to write a research paper about it. What insights do you have on this subject?


Related Articles: Noun-Words that Represent Verb-Activities

Hello Kent:

The Brain is an organ in the body — it is a tangible thing. In contrast, what we call "Mind" is not a thing; instead, the word "Mind" is a noun-word that represents the activity of being consciously aware. That is why John Dewey, American Psychologist and Philosopher, suggested that "Mind" should be referred to as . . . "Minding"the living activity of awareness, perception, and thinking.

Reality is conceived more correctly as certain noun-words, that don't really represent things, are translated into verb-words — because what is being represented are activities and not objects. For example, the word "Faith" is a noun-word that actually represents verb-activity.

The word "Mind" is a noun in sentences, so when we talk about "IT," we naturally tend to imagine IT to be an IT — but of course IT is not. Again, Minding is a verb-activity of awareness, perception, and thinking. Since "Mind" is not a THING or an IT, and clearly no one has ever seen, tasted or touched a Mind, let alone a Sub-Conscious Mind, this means that the so-called "sub-conscious mind" is just a theoretical construct — the creation of one psychological perspective.

Because the body has a Brain Stem that drives the autonomic nervous system, automatically controlling body functions like breathing and heart-beat, some psychologists theorize the parallel existence of "Subconscious Mind" that directs habitual behavior.

Here's an alternative way of conceiving this issue: the empirically provable reality to which Subconscious Mind refers is this: Human Beings behave in ways that are often NOT chosen in the moment — people often act Un-Consciously and Habitually.

Thinking IS mental behavior. Eckhart Tolle said this about thinking:

"The greater part of most people's thinking is involuntary, automatic, and repetitive. It is no more than a kind of mental static and fulfills no real purpose. Strictly speaking, you don't think: Thinking happens to you. The statement "I think" implies volition. It implies that you have a say in the matter, that there is choice involved on your part. For most people, this is not the case. "I think" is just as false a statement as "I digest" or "I circulate my blood." Digestion happens, circulation happens, thinking happens."
(A New Earth, p. 129)

Eckhart is not speaking of ALL people, rather, "the greater part of most people." Tolle's words confirm the trap I call Einstein's Mind Bind: "We cannot solve our problems at the same level of thinking which existed when the problem was created." Said another way: Tigers will always act and think like Tigers — until they Change Their Stripes!

Because people act and react in unwitting ways, some theorize the existence of a "subconscious mind" that is in-charge of, and supposedly drives and stores, unconscious behavior.

Here's the problem with this theory: Exactly WHO ultimately chooses the contents and habits of a supposed Sub-Conscious Mind? Answer: It is YOU . . . YOU determine the contents of your Subconscious Mind (if there really were one). For this reason, we can simply skip over talk of Sub-Conscious Mind entirely . . . and focus directly upon YOU -- the person endowed with Free Will.

The assumed existence of a Subconscious Mind IS a deeply rooted and widely accepted assumption of popular psychology. Thus, I'm swimming against the swift current of pervasive norms by suggesting this alternative explanation.

In the end, "Sub-Conscious Mind" is an unnecessary layer of language for conceiving and explaining behavior — especially when one accepts that mortals are beings endowed by their Creator with free will. The theory of " Sub-Conscious Mind" is more compatible with Evolutionary Determinism — man as an "animal" who has instincts implanted in a supposed Subconscious Mind.

Reality is NOT established by exploring the implications of words and then wrapping reality around what words may suggest (though we do this all the time); instead, Reality is best described through systematic observation of direct, face-to-face, empirical experience — and from this living-breathing experience, we shape words around REALITY, not vice versa.

Note: Spiritual experience can also be empirical: for example, we don't have to visually SEE wind, to empirically SEE branches and leaves moving in a breeze, and thus, correctly conclude that Wind is the cause of it.

The following excerpt from Changing Your Stripes offers an alternative to understanding real occurrences of Unconscious Behavior; it explains why human beings often act unwittingly and habitually in the moment:

Emotion as Energy-in-Motion. Even though you author your emotions, sometimes the experience of emotion feels like something that is being done to you, as opposed to something you are doing, and therefore something you are choosing. You may say within yourself, “I know I am supposed to be the author of my emotions, but often emotions seem to erupt uninvited and unwanted, . . . so what’s up with that?” Here’s the truth:

* * * * *
E-Motions that are felt today, are not chosen Today;
instead, all emotional responses are set-in-motion
by a pattern of prior choices made Yesterday;
today's decisions set Energy-in-Motion
that is manifest & felt Tomorrow.
 * * * * * 

You are the author of your emotions; you determine the emotional energy that is set in motion by your history of prior decisions. Once you've set energy in motion, it’s like an arrow that leaves the archer’s bow: It’s only a matter of time till that arrow makes its mark.

E-Motion, or Energy-In-Motion, is also like throwing a rock: Once the rock has left your hand it moves in a course determined by the chosen velocity and the decided direction.

Just as prior decisions determine the course and destiny of a thrown rock, similarly, once stones of emotion are hurled (via certain decisions), their ultimate destiny is beyond your control — you cannot call them back. This means that when tomorrow arrives, you and I are literally an emotional response waiting to happen.

* * * * *
As decisions are made Today, your way of reacting
emotionally cannot be controlled Tomorrow:
Energy-in-Motion is already on its way.
You are destined to experience all
the consequences connected to
Yesterday’s poor choices
at some time in the Future.
 * * * * * 

Life happens this way because there must necessarily be a connected consequence to all of life’s choices; otherwise, you would not be able to appraise the quality of your decisions. . . . .

To make Life Self-Correcting, the Creator intentionally attached clear consequences to every chosen thought we think, and every chosen deed we do. Consequences are the “fruit” that lets us know that a chosen “seed” is good — connected consequences that signal whether our chosen values are valuable!

It is entirely unnecessary to assume a "subconscious mind" and place IT between You and the Energy In Motion you have chosen in prior days. The idea of Energy-In-Motion also helps explain certain addictive behavior patterns labeled O.C.D., A.D.D., and P.T.S.D.

Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist

* * * * * * *

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