For the past two months we’ve covered the psychodynamic ideas of Id, Super Ego, Ego, and the Pathological, Immature, Neurotic, and Mature defense mechanisms, but we haven’t discussed where many of these processes originate from. With the exception of Ego and some of the Mature defense mechanisms, a lot an individual’s psychological processes lie within the unconscious mind.
The unconscious mind is the aspect of self that a person is not consciously aware of it. It consists of automatic processes that are not available for introspection, but cause an impact on behavior. The Id and Super Ego both reside in the unconscious mind, and we’ve discussed how these aspects of self affect the manifestation of defense mechanisms. As the genesis of these occur in the unconscious part of their mind individuals usually do not have insight into the why of their defenses. These processes are below conscious awareness and just occur as repeating patterns of behavior.
The question then is, if these thoughts, behaviors, emotions, motivations are outside of an individual’s awareness how does the individual change and how does the therapist work with the unseen? The challenge for therapists and clients is that only aspect of clients’ minds that is readily acceptable is the conscious mind, that which they are aware of. The conscious mind makes up only a small fraction of their self. The analogy that is often used for the unconscious mind is that a person’s mind is like an iceberg; only the conscious tip is visible to client and therapist with the majority of the personality laying below the waves in the unconscious.
In tomorrow’s blog I will discuss how therapists help their clients get insight into the unconscious so that clients can begin to work at a conscious level on their unconscious process.