It has been suggested that I’m obsessed with the unconscious mind. And perhaps I am.
It’s amazing to be able to read people’s thoughts: to see beyond the obvious and observe the hidden treasures in the shadows of the mind in their glorious array of shapes, sizes and colours.
But that doesn’t mean I intend to diss consciousness. It’s amazing too. I love being conscious, after all! And I love thinking about thinking.
And conciousness is the result of what the unconscious mind does: an emergent property.
Gerald Zaltman in How Customers Think has a great metaphor. For him, consciousness is like goulash!
“Hungarian goulash has a particular flavour: when you take a bite there is one overall taste. Any chef will explain, however, that the combination of spices and ingredients mix and mingle through the cooking and eating process to create a unique essence that is goulash. Diners may not consider the preparation involved; they taste only the result.
“High-order consciousness is a little like Hungarian goulash. We focus on the overall outcome, not on the complex process that produces it…
“Whether or not the base of the goulash or the source of high-order consciousness is initially recognized, it comes about only through the exercise of other activities and component parts.”
And he points out an important feature of consciousness.
“The five per cent of our thinking that is highly conscious enables us to confront the other 95 per cent of mental life below this stratum.”
We can and should use consciousness to investigate, explore, consider and understand the unconscious mind – our own, and the unconscious minds of others.