Physicist Mlodinow (Physics/Caltech; The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, 2008, etc.) takes a wide-ranging look at some of the mysteries of the unconscious mind. As with his previous books, the author aims to make complex scientific concepts accessible to non-scientists. Here he samples a wide variety of studies and anecdotes from the 19th century to the present day, exploring the behaviors humans engage in without being aware of what they are doing. Because so many actions that affect our senses, memories, social interactions and self-image occur unconsciously, "the real reasons behind our judgments, feelings, and behavior can surprise us." A 2005 study, for example, found that people tend to unconsciously eat larger amounts of popcorn, regardless of its quality, if they receive a larger container of it. In another study, test subjects reacted differently to computerized voices depending on whether they sounded male or female, with subjects showing profound but unconscious gender biases. In a loose, easygoing style, Mlodinow combines numerous accounts of scientific studies with pop-culture references and even personal anecdotes. While many of his topics are fascinating individually, the author tries to cover too much ground in just over 200 pages. Among dozens of other subjects, he writes about the early history of psychology, experiments with a blind stroke victim, a horse named Clever Hans, the inaccuracies of the testimony of Watergate figure John Dean and his own mother's relationship with her pet Russian tortoise. Ultimately, the book never full coheres, and the reader comes away with little concrete insight into the unconscious--save that it is a subject full of mystery. A diverting but scattershot examination of undeniably intriguing aspects of human behavior.
Subliminal is of the Malcolm Gladwell/Jonah Lehrer school of pop science, and at times it can seem simplistic and a little scattershot. Luckily, Mlodinow is an entertaining, amiable guide. Besides being a theoretical physicist who wrote a number of popular science books and collaborated with Stephen Hawking on two bestsellers, Mlodinow also spent years as a Hollywood writer, working on episodes of Star Trek and coming up with the puzzles that stymied MacGyver (which may or may not increase your confidence in his scientific acumen). But by focusing on the science of the unconscious, Mlodinow makes us question some of our most basic assumptions.
The dominance of our unconscious mind can lead us to do strange, irrational things and Subliminal will show you what these are. For instance, it will show you that we are more likely to be attracted to someone if we are standing on a high bridge.
Then, in 1900, Sigmund Freud postulated an interpretation of the unconscious mind that became very popular. Freud said that the unconscious is often unnatural and unhealthy due to our repression of incestual attraction and painful memories.
As it was so hard to unlock the secrets of the unconscious mind, later research moved away to other areas. Many scientists began to argue that humans were like animals: complex yet predictable machines with brains like computers.
For example, a man who had a stroke and went blind had both visual hemispheres of his brain wiped out. Yet his eyes still gathered light as normal and his unconscious mind was still able to use this. The man showed researchers that he could guess whether a face shown to him was happy or angry. He could also navigate an obstacle course without walking into any obstructions.
But the detail that our unconscious mind receives from the senses is imperfect. To turn this into information that our conscious brain can use, the unconscious mind takes all the raw information and filters it.
However, as we remember only small aspects of our experiences, we need something to piece everything together into coherent stories. Our unconscious mind does this. It creates stories from fragmented memories and the situations we find ourselves in. Unfortunately this can lead us to make mistakes.
This difficulty partly arises from the fact that our feelings are a product of our unconscious mind. Emotions work in the following way: the environment supplies data to our senses, to which our unconscious mind produces a physiological response. It is this response that we experience as emotion.
Read Or Download Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior By Leonard Mlodinow Full Pages.Get Free Here => =0307472256Leonard Mlodinow, the best-selling author of The Drunkard?s Walk and coauthor of The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), gives us a startling and eye-opening examination of how the unconscious mind shapes our experience of the world and how, for instance, we often misperceive our relationships with family, friends, and business associates, misunderstand the reasons for our investment decisions, and misremember important events.Your preference in politicians, the amount you tip your waiter?all judgments and perceptions reflect the workings of our mind on two levels: the conscious, of which we are aware, and the unconscious, which is hidden from us. The latter has long been the subject of speculation, but over the past two decades researchers have developed remarkable new tools for probing the hidden, or subliminal, workings of the mind. The result of this explosion of research is a new science of the unconscious and a sea change in our understanding of how the subliminal mind affects
The unconscious, said Mlodinow, is not something to be feared and resisted. It is, he said, a gift of evolution, allowing you to, for instance, swerve from a dog that just jumped out into the middle of the road without having to engage your conscious mind. Conscious thought takes time and sometimes decisions need to be made in a much faster time frame.
The unconscious mind (or the unconscious) consists of processes in the mind that occur automatically and are not available to introspection. Although these processes exist beneath the surface of conscious awareness, they are thought to exert an effect on conscious thought processes and behavior. Empirical evidence suggests that unconscious phenomena include repressed feelings and desires, memories, automatic skills, subliminal perceptions, and automatic reactions. The term was coined by the 18th-century German Romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
The emergence of the concept of the Unconscious in psychology and general culture was mainly due to the work of Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. In psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious mind consists of ideas and drives that have been subject to the mechanism of Repression: anxiety-producing impulses in childhood are barred from consciousness, but do not cease to exist, and exert a constant pressure in the direction of consciousness. However, the content of the unconscious is only knowable to consciousness through its representation in a disguised or distorted form, by way of dreams and neurotic symptoms, as well as in slips of the tongue and jokes. The psychoanalyst seeks to interpret these conscious manifestations in order to understand the nature of the repressed.
The unconscious mind can be seen as the source of dreams and automatic thoughts (those that appear without any apparent cause), the repository of forgotten memories (that may still be accessible to consciousness at some later time), and the locus of implicit knowledge (the things that we have learned so well that we do them without thinking). Phenomena related to semi-consciousness include awakening, implicit memory, subliminal messages, trances, hypnagogia and hypnosis. While sleep, sleepwalking, dreaming, delirium and comas may signal the presence of unconscious processes, these processes are seen as symptoms rather than the unconscious mind itself.
Influences on thinking that originate from outside of an individual's consciousness were reflected in the ancient ideas of temptation, divine inspiration, and the predominant role of the gods in affecting motives and actions. The idea of internalised unconscious processes in the mind was present in antiquity, and has been explored across a wide variety of cultures. Unconscious aspects of mentality were referred to between 2,500 and 600 BC in the Hindu texts known as the Vedas, found today in Ayurvedic medicine.
In psychoanalytic terms, the unconscious does not include all that is not conscious, but rather that which is actively repressed from conscious thought. Freud viewed the unconscious as a repository for socially unacceptable ideas, anxiety-producing wishes or desires, traumatic memories, and painful emotions put out of mind by the mechanism of repression. In the psychoanalytic view, unconscious mental processes can only be recognized through analysis of their effects in consciousness. Unconscious thoughts are not directly accessible to ordinary introspection, but they are capable of partially evading the censorship mechanism of repression in a disguised form, manifesting, for example, as dream elements or neurotic symptoms. Such symptoms are supposed to be capable of being "interpreted" during psychoanalysis, with the help of methods such as free association, dream analysis, and analysis of verbal slips.
The purpose of dreams, according to Freud, is to fulfill repressed wishes while simultaneously allowing the dreamer to remain asleep. The dream is a disguised fulfilment of the wish because the unconscious desire in its raw form would disturb the sleeper and can only avoid censorship by associating itself with elements that are not subject to repression. Thus Freud distinguished between the manifest content and latent content of the dream. The manifest content consists of the plot and elements of a dream as they appear to consciousness, particularly upon waking, as the dream is recalled. The latent content refers to the hidden or disguised meaning of the events and elements of the dream. It represents the unconscious psychic realities of the dreamer's current issues and childhood conflicts, the nature of which the analyst is seeking to understand through interpretation of the manifest content. In Freud's theory, dreams are instigated by the events and thoughts of everyday life. In what he called the "dream-work", these events and thoughts, governed by the rules of language and the reality principle, become subject to the "primary process" of unconscious thought, which is governed by the pleasure principle , wish gratification and the repressed sexual scenarios of childhood. The dream-work involves a process of disguising these unconscious desires in order to preserve sleep. This process occurs primarily by means of what Freud called Condensation and Displacement. Condensation is the focusing of the energy of several ideas into one, and displacement is the surrender of one idea's energy to another more trivial representative. The manifest content is thus a highly significant simplification of the latent content. 781b155fdc