Subliminal – The New Subconscious

Much more like a modern variation of the Unconscious, the ‘New Subconscious’ is different yet has similar grounds as that of the version of the Kantian unconscious in the philosophy of mind or Freudian repressive unconscious. Similar ground being the heavy involvement of our subconscious mind on our behaviors or actions.

It also reminds me of one of Nietzsche’s theatrical metaphors, “The curtain falls, and the man rediscovers himself like a child playing with worlds, like a child awakening at dawn and laughing wiping his awful dreams from his brow”. Here ‘awful dreams’ are used by Nietzsche to imply that we do not so much live life as getting lived by it, that we do not act consciously, thus everything originates in the “unconscious action”.

But Leonard Mlodinow, the theoretical physicist’s concept of new unconscious reminds me a lot of Daniel Kahneman’s system 2 form of thinking, just with more new scientific and experimental backing. Kahneman would probably be always connected to this sphere of psychological and neurological research, especially when it comes to Heuristics and Systems of thinking.

Mlodinow starts by asserting that the new unconscious facilitates many processes in action or behavior due to the structure of our brain which unlike the Freudian view are healthy and normal. While Neuroscience claims that it is the brainstem that controls the unconscious functions like respiration, digestion, and pulse, which Mlodinow claims can be witnessed through intelligent modern technology like MRI with blood flow and 3D precision.

Our behavior can be willful, habitual and automatic and it is often the automatic, especially the subliminal automatic that amuses a human of their behavior. It seems to be carefully derived from our senses, our capability of reading body language, our ability to recognize intentions from voices and most importantly memory. It also gives an in-depth insight into procedural subconscious memory.

The cover of the book itself explains a lot about our subconscious mind and desire of aesthetics as derived from our senses. Overall, a remarkable addition to the field of neuropsychology from the mind of a physicist and probably the most precise modern explanation of the subconscious mind.







    1. I’d say different in the way that a) Mlodinow describes the subconscious as perfectly healthy and normal, which Freud on the other hand described with unpleasant urges and thoughts like incest sexual thinking etc. b) Freud also based the subconsious on mostly repressed feelings and desires which only covers a portion of the human subconscious. Mlodinow introduces more aspects based on scientific experimentation like our general ability of judging a person based on body language, voice and reacting a certain way to different kinds of images etc. All these actions are automatic and based subliminaly.
      That’s why Mlodinow presents the case of the Unconscious mind which is different from the limited definition Freud provided.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The brain contains the mind in science, or the mind is seen as a sub-content of the brain. Hence, the science of neuropsychology constitutes understanding of both in relation to the behavior of course.


  1. I’m more interested in so-called transpersonal psychology and the idea that we can pick up stuff not necessarily originating in our own brain or, for that matter, soul.

    I think this could unconsciously – or with some people consciously – affect many of us and if better understood could have tremendous benefit for the diagnosis and treatment of so-called mental illness, which currently is way too reductionist and bio-biased for my liking.


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