subconscious(redirected from subconsciousness)
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in psychology, that aspect of mental life that is separate from immediate consciousness and is not subject to recall at will. Sigmund Freud regarded the unconscious as a submerged but vast portion of the mind.
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The term subconscious is confusing because it is used inconsistently. In some discussions this word is used interchangeably with the unconscious. The unconscious is that part of the psyche that is normally beyond the reach of consciousness—although psychoanalysis and certain other forms of psychotherapy can reputedly access certain parts of the unconscious through such techniques as dream interpretation. In other discussions, the term is used to represent what Sigmund Freud termed the preconscious, namely, those contents of the mind which, while not within the immediate spotlight of awareness, can be quickly accessed simply by turning one’s attention to them. We are normally unaware of, for example, such background noises as the sound of the wind in the trees or the soft hum of a heating and cooling system. However, it would not be difficult to bring these sounds to our consciousness if we so wished.