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Freud’s first topic: conscious, preconscious and unconscious

Sigmund Freud – father of psychoanalysis – described the mind as a psychic apparatus and postulated in one of his theories that the mind is made up of different organs or parts – like any apparatus . He formulated two topics to describe this psychic apparatus -the mind-.

According to the first Freudian cliché, the psychic apparatus is composed of three elements: conscious, preconscious and unconscious.


Freud describes the conscious mind as a composition of all the mental processes of which we are aware . The same (conscious mind) is located in the present and is the one who allows the subject to have a perception of reality .

Consciousness is the set of experiences of which the individual is aware of them at the same moment in which they are occurring.In the conscious mind, the subject presents awareness of himself and the world around him.

According to Freud, being conscious is what allows the subject to think and communicate rationally.
Consciousness is related  to short-term memory and is limited in terms of capacity .


In the preconscious mind you will find what is not in consciousness but also not in the unconscious. In that place are the feelings and thoughts of which the subject is not aware at the same moment in which they occur, but when he wishes he can bring them to consciousness .

The preconscious includes thoughts, knowledge and experiences that are not currently conscious. In it  there is a memory recovery, bringing out some memories required by the conscious mind.

Unlike the thoughts and feelings found in the unconscious, those found in the preconscious are not repressed , so we can say that they are in a “waiting room” from which they will emerge when consciousness focuses its attention. in them.

An example of a preconscious mind can be a subject returning home, where he does not have the route he must take in his consciousness, however, when he goes home, that information stored in the preconscious immediately arises.

Sometimes some emotional experiences can remain within the preconscious negative emotions, but sometimes, some traumatic experiences that were found for a time in the preconscious become repressed and  sent to the unconscious,  therefore they will no longer be available in the preconscious.


For Freud, the unconscious mind comprises mental processes that are inaccessible to consciousness. For him, the unconscious is the primary source of human behavior.

In the unconscious are instinctive and primitive desires that have been repressed.

The information that is repressed in the unconscious, is locked up through defense mechanisms. These mechanisms have the function of retaining traumatic events or highly negative events so that they are out of the reach of consciousness.

We can compare the two  Freudian clichés in this way: the id is found within the unconscious and the conscious and preconscious refer to the superego. The thoughts and feelings inappropriate for the individual (according to society) are sent to the unconscious , these thoughts are driven by the id and at the same time are repressed by the  superego .

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The things that are hidden from consciousness, for Freud, are those that exert the greatest influence on our personalities and behaviors, therefore he affirms that what is found in the unconscious are forces that drive our behavior and define our personality .

Diagram of the psychic apparatus of the first Freudian topic

Freud compares the psychic apparatus with an iceberg , where the tip would be the conscious mind, a small percentage that is in the middle corresponds to the preconscious and the rest of the iceberg – the most submerged part – belongs to the unconscious. This ensures that just as most of the iceberg is hidden, most of the mind and the most important is the one that cannot be seen.

Criticisms of the first Freudian topic and Jung’s unconscious model

Many psychologists argue that the unconscious mind does not exist. The challenge of exploring consciousness already implies a gigantic task for psychologists, therefore some consider that it is not possible to know what is in the unconscious mind of another person if they cannot know it themselves.

Carl Jung disagreed with Freud in some respects, considering the unconscious not as something that arises individually but as something collective, which is part of the whole. For Jung, the collective unconscious is made up of so-called “archetypes.” These archetypes are potentialities, or proclivities, that can find a channel of expression in the finding of a partner, religion and even in the eventual confrontation of death. The term archetype is not intended to denote an inherited idea, but rather an inherited mode of operation, corresponding to the innate form of survival. In other words, a purely biological “pattern of behavior.”

Jung posited that the psyche is a self-regulating system, like the body, seeking to maintain a balance between opposing qualities while constantly striving to grow, a process he called “individuation.” Said author defined the unconscious as follows:

The unconscious is all I know, but which I am not thinking about at this very moment; It is all that I was ever conscious of but have now forgotten; it is all that my senses perceive, but my conscious mind does not notice; It is everything that involuntarily and without paying attention to it, I feel, think, remember, want and do; they are all future things that are forming in me and that will ever become conscious; all this is what I mean when I speak of the content of the unconscious… In addition to this, we must include all more or less intentional repressions of painful thoughts and feelings. The entire sum of these contents is the indivisual unconscious.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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