Term Paper: Unconscious Thoughts After Reading

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[. . .] 63). Therefore, the complete control of and cognizance of consciousness may be elusive for humans, as was the case with me during my research.

Yet there are other characteristics of consciousness or unconsciousness that my research helped validate which inherently pertain to the nature of the involuntary thoughts that took place in my experiment. For the most part, those thoughts were continuations of thoughts and concerns which I was preoccupied with during the day. The stray thoughts I had about my uncle can be traced back to the conversation about him I had had with my other earlier in the day. The thoughts to my music and schoolwork were also descended from ruminations about these subjects I had earlier, if not every day. Past actions can create emotions which "consciously" (Furuya, 2007, p. 2) remain in one's memory and affect one's thoughts. The propagation of previous, conscious thoughts to ones that directly correlate unconsciously is a key property of the consciousness. The variation in my unconscious thoughts and their links to thoughts earlier in the day are explained by James (1892) in his listing of three (of four total) key traits of consciousness: that its various "states" are mutable, that those changes are "sensibly continuous" and that the mind "rejects" some previous thoughts while focusing on the most eminent ones (p. 152).

James elucidation of these aspects of consciousness explains a lot of the findings in my research. It accounts for the fact that despite my efforts to concentrate on only breathing, I inherently encountered other thoughts. Furthermore, these thoughts were continuations of those which I had incurred earlier in the day. As such, there is significance in the fact that my meditation was interrupted by my unconscious mind which was preoccupied with things I had perceived as unmet goals.

Implications for Understanding Human Experience and Professional Practice

Both the readings for this assignment and the research I conducted for it indicate that the mind -- human consciousness -- is active all the time. Moreover, it can assert its autonomy during times in which an individual's volition may wish for it to do otherwise. Practitioners, then, can use the knowledge of these facts to their advantage by attempting to utilize information gleaned from both the conscious and unconscious thoughts of practitioners. As Baars (1997) points out, there can be "fortunate" lapses of consciousness that aid people (p. I CAN'T SEE THE PAGE NUMBER, ON THE FIRT PAGE). Information gleaned from unconventional sources of cognition, such as dream journaling, perhaps, or even hypnosis (Kirsch and Lynn, 1995, p. 846) may shed insight into the priorities, concerns, and issues a client may be facing. There is evidence that indicates that emotions, such as fear, may also factor prominently into consciousness and cognition (LeDoux, 2002, p. 62). Furthermore, emotions can be expressed both consciously and unconsciously (Greenberg and Goldman, 2008, p. 20), and can either be salutary or unhealthy (Greenberg, 2002, p. 137). It is best to understand the intrusive nature of the unconscious mind and attempt to work in accordance with this aspect of it, even though unconscious thoughts may be unwanted at the time they are manifest. Additionally, the manifestations of the unconscious mind can also potentially aid clinicians in ascertaining insight into cases with clients. Thoughts and feelings obtained outside of the clinical environment or during the work hours may be relevant, and potentially insightful.

Concluding Remarks

Human volition is extremely limited, especially as it pertains to control and access over the mind. One's intentions are oftentimes not enough to produce a desired result. Aspects of consciousness suggest that the mind is more powerful than people realize, which is why information gathered from both the conscious and unconscious mind seem equally relevant.


Baars, B. (1997). In the Theater of Consciousness: the Workspace of the Mind. San Diego: Oxford University Press.

Furuya, S. (1997). Unfinished business. Family of Origin Systems MAP603C.

Greenberg, L.S., Goldman, R.N. (2008). Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy. New York: American Psychological Association.

Greenberg, L.S. (2002). Emotion Focused Therapy. New York: American Psychological Association.

James, W. (1892). In psychology briefer course. London: MacMillan.

Kirsch, I., Lynn, S.J. (1995). The altered state of hypnosis. American… [END OF PREVIEW]

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