One Brain, Two Minds?

Our brain is enormously complicated, and there is little prospect of understanding it completely anytime soon.

Initially, the different parts of the physical brain were labelled, and science attempted to explain the functions that each performed. It soon became apparent that many physical areas took part in many different functions. It was the subjective observation that we seemed to have conscious control over some processes but not over others which led to the concept of conscious and subconscious minds.

Physically however, there is no defined area in the brain that can attributed purely to either the conscious or the subconscious mind! The most we can say is that these concepts reflect our ideas about two perceptibly different approaches which our brain seems to adopt when managing our body.

Its easier to use the concept of either the conscious mind or the subconscious mind, than to describe a long list of different physical areas of the brain involved in a process - especially as both conscious and subconscious processes can utilize some of the same physical areas of the brain!

We don't have two discrete physical minds. We only have a nervous system, of which we consider the brain to be the hotspot of activity and control, and the rest of the body.

The concepts of subconscious and conscious minds were conceived of by conscious minds, in order to make it easier for conscious minds to understand brains in a logical way!

Evolution - operating on the brain, the rest of the nervous system, and the other organs and tissues of the body over millions of years, gave rise to the many varied mechanisms for maintaining a degree of physical stability and resilience in our individual life.

The fact that you are here to read this page is a testament to the effectiveness of your individual subconscious mind which works continually to maintain your existence - largely without your knowledge, and even while your conscious mind takes a break at night.

Why have two minds evolved?  

The sub-conscious and conscious minds should not be thought of as two separate entities, but rather as two differing ways of assessing and reacting to changes in both our internal and external environments.

We naturally think that thinking is a logical process - because our conscious mind seems to excel at logical deduction. We may not be able to think otherwise, simply because we employ logical deductions and constraints as part of our conscious thinking process.

Links to the associated side bars

The Subconscious Mind

The Conscious Mind