Thursday, April 19, 2012

What makes some of us believe in an unconscious?

The idea has been around for over a hundred years, but nobody has seen one.
You will not see the unconscious mind on a CT, MR, PET or SPECT scan.
It will not pop into view when a neurosurgeon opens the skull.
Like gods and Ptolemeic epicyles it seems to explain anything and everything you want it to.
Like most such myths there is no way to prove it does not exist, but unlike the myth that the world is round, it has not advanced knowledge, even our ability to treat mental illness.
What would believers accept as failure to demonstrate its existence?


  1. Will you see "depression" in an MRI?
    Will you see "schizophrenia" in a SPECT scan?
    Will you see "anxiety" in a CSF analysis?
    Will you see "alcoholism" in a blood sample?

    If the answer is "yes" to any of the above, I would follow up by asking (a) is this a disease process or an epiphenomenon? and (b) do you order these tests (or the relevant ones) on every patient you diagnose with a psychiatric disorder?

  2. It's obvious that the unconscious mind exists. Come on, we all know that there are many memories, emotions and cognitive schemas that are not stored in the conscious mind, i.e. we don't readily have access to them. We know these exist because they might pop up from time to time in our conscious mind. So, if there are some psychological contents that are not stored in the conscious mind, the only logical way around this is that they are stored into a part of our mind that is not conscious, i.e. un-conscious...

    And, by the way, can you see the conscious mind in an MRI, CT, PET or SPECT scan?

  3. Not Steve Tyler from Aerosmith?! (You probably get that all the time.)

    Think of a memory chip. All that info can be stored in some kind of inert format in brain networks. Then at times they become conscious.

    I don't need an imaging device to perceive consciousness, or (other Steve) depression or anxiety. I can feel them. Schizophrenia and alcoholism are just categories of what we call disorders. Not a valid comparison.