Given that the human brain is such an amazingly complex and sophisticated organ, with a hundred billion neurons (and ten times more non-computational cells) each having up to 10,000 synaptic connections to other neurons making forty quadrillion possible connection patterns, it strikes me as odd that the resulting mind is seen as conscious, and subconscious (or unconscious).
My pencil has more than two bits, but it isn't nearly as complicated as your mind.
I think the mind has at least three components, and it's complexity comes from the fact that rather than being distinct, they overlap. Imagine a three-dimensional Venn diagram. Right. Too complicated.
Conscious mind does awareness, including think that is deliberate and of which you are aware.
Unconscious mind manages the organisms natural equilibrium, or homeostasis. It's the bit of mind still functioning when a boxer is knocked out, and flat on his back on the canvas.
Subconscious mind has all our history, much of our identity and drives most of our behaviour, being vastly more powerful than conscious mind.
There are many different models to describe the relationship between these components of mind. Here's mine. It's a cargo ship.
Up in the bridge, the captain knows he has a cargo to be delivered to Boston, New England. The weather forecast is fair and he has plenty of time to make the crossing. He gets on the blower down to the engine room.
Peep peep. "Captain here. We have cargo bound for Boston, New England, but there's no hurry, so head west at a leisurely pace."
Peep peep. "Aye aye, cap'n," comes the response from the engine room. But down below decks, the chief engineer has been invited to a wedding in Johannesburg, and he's in a rush. So the ship heads south, at the double.
In due course, the captain notices his ship seems to be going the wrong way, fast.
Peep peep. "Captain here. We have cargo bound for Boston, New England, but there's no hurry, so head west at a leisurely pace, please."
Peep peep. "Aye aye, cap'n," but the ship keeps going south, swiftly.
The captain keeps sending the right signals down to the engine room, but nothing changes. He can't get into the engine room to do anything about it himself, and becomes increasing agitated and frustrated by the behaviour of his out of control ship. Of course, the ship isn't out of control. It's simply out of his control.
The captain is conscious mind. The engine room is subconscious mind. The navigational aid that keeps the ship on the (southerly) course set by the engine room is unconscious mind.
Understanding the mind has become the subject of psychology. Personally I suspect that all psychological phenomena have a physiological substrate and, thus, all psychology is a metaphor for neurology. Still, the language of psychology has slipped into common parlance much more pervasively that the language of neuroscience so the following resource may be of some use.
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