So I just had this brilliant post written in which I was making fun of an author who I believed was misunderstanding the difference between subconscious and unconscious.
He writes of "The Unconscious Marriage", which I thought was funny, because to me that phrase means "a marriage out cold". So I was brilliantly making fun of this guy (whose name is Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., so really there's still plenty of reason to make fun of him), and then before hitting the publish button, I thought it would be prudent to do a little fact checking.
I had always thought subconscious was a mental state of unawareness and unconscious was a physical state of unawareness, just as the person who started this discussion says, thus:
I have always been taught that subconscious was used when talking about the parts of your psyche that you are not aware of - "the subconscious mind" and that unconscious was a physical condition - "knocked unconscious"
Lately I have been hearing people interchange the two; most of the time it is someone using "unconscious" in place of "subconscious".
Am I confused here? Are they interchangeable?
But then this guy with a psychology degree pipes in with this:
I have a degree in Psychology and wondered about this during my studies. Here's your answer (I hope).
Unconscious is the term usually used in Psychology to refer to the thoughts we have that are 'out of reach' of our consciousness. A traumatic childhood event that we repress is an example, but it doesn't have to be so serious as this. It could be something very distant like a memory that we can't 'pull out' at our choosing. It's there, but we can't remember it no matter how hard we try. Certain psychoanalytical methods can bring back these memories (such as hypnosis) and can also be triggered by an event (a scent, a familiar place etc).
The important point to remember here, is that we cannot, by choice, remember anything in our unconscious without some special event or technique. This is the unconscious.
The sub-conscious is almost the same, but the very major difference is, we *can* choose to remember. Sub-conscious is used far too often (erroneously) to mean unconscious. It's simply not the case, and you'll find that in Psychology the topic of the unconscious of *far* more prevalent (and important for study) than that of the sub-conscious. The sub-conscious is for example the part of your mind that lets you remember your phone number.
Before reading this, you were not conscious (thinking right now) of your phone number, but should I ask you for it, you're able to bring it to the conscious level by pulling it from your sub-conscious. The person who told you your phone number for the first time has perhaps faded from memory. It may still be in there somewhere, but it's something you can't remember (maybe), and if so, this is in your unconscious mind. So there you have it.
And my searches in Dictionary.com seem to corroborate this position.
Sumbitch. My reality once again gets thrown up against the wall. And my post had been so brilliant, too.