The Difference between Conscious and Subconscious Mind

By Mary Smith. March 16, 2017
The Difference between Conscious and Subconscious Mind

Subconscious, unconscious and conscious are the three levels of consciousness of an individual to which some add the superconscious, which corresponds to the spiritual state of awakening. The difference between these states is a subject of debate, both in philosophy and psychiatry. Sigmund Freud refuted the term "subconscious" because it is complementary with the term "unconscious". Some psychoanalysts, such as Jung, used one for the other. We will try to shed some light on these notions.

You may also be interested in: The Difference between Regret and Remorse

Conscious level

The conscious is the first level of consciousness. It encompasses its perception through the five senses, memories and theoretical-practical knowledge accumulated over the years by an individual and his or her environment. The conscious level allows one to perceive reality, to judge, to think and to decide on a daily basis. This is the normal state in which we live.

The conscious is related to the left hemisphere of the brain, which works on logic and language. It would represent about 10% of the neuronal functions of the brain.

Subconscious level

The subconscious - also called the "second unconscious" level - stores all that is not conscious and which is acquired, that is, what was once conscious and which is now just under consciousness in the form of a reflex:

  • Intuition
  • Memories
  • Fears (example: I do not get too close to the oven because I have burned myself as a child and since I have been apprehensive)
  • Traumas

Most of what the subconscious retains are experiences lived during childhood. We associate the subconscious with the right hemisphere of the brain and with an unlimited hard disk in which to store thoughts and experiences, whether negative or positive. The subconscious does not judge and does not distinguish between what is moral and what is immoral or the real and an image that is created through the conscious state of mind. The subconscious level is where 50 to 60% of the brain's neuronal functions are used.

Unconscious level

The unconscious encompasses all that is not conscious and which comes from automatic reactions our body has since we are born. The unconscious is not perceived by the conscious state of mind , but into the memory of the person in question. It has an impact on the thoughts and actions of the individual. Among the unconscious automatisms of the unconscious we find the following:

  • Automatism of the body: walking, heartbeat, blood circulation, body growth, breathing, physical reaction to an external stimulus (example: I immediately remove my hand if it burns), instinctive impulses ...
  • Automatism of the mind: speaking, slips, dreams, verbal impulses ...

The uncosncious level occupies around 40% of our brain's function, which is why it's the basis of all of our actions.

The Difference between Conscious and Subconscious Mind - Unconscious level


The superconscious is a theoretical notion of the domain of metaphysics. It is given many names: the breath of God, the Spirit of God, the state of enlightenment, the divine power, the one, the vital and universal energy, the Chi, Nirvana etc. The superconscious is in everything, everywhere, all the time.

How the states of consciousness interact

The first level of consciousness, is the one that molds our character, the one that decides what actions we take and how we do them. However, it is the subconscious that feeds the conscious memories which will determine the conscious mind's decisions. It is the bridge between the unconscious level and the conscious, as the unconscious will filter information needed by the conscious at a certain stage, so this level of consciousness does not have to store this information permanently.

So what is the difference between conscious and subconscious? The conscious mind is the one that gathers information from its environment and takes decisions of acting in a certain way towards them. The subconscious is the state that can quickly feed the conscious information that will determine how the conscious state will react, depending on the information it has kept in storage.

If you want to read similar articles to The Difference between Conscious and Subconscious Mind, we recommend you visit our University degrees category.

Write a comment

What did you think of this article?
The Difference between Conscious and Subconscious Mind
1 of 2
The Difference between Conscious and Subconscious Mind

Back to top