Author Topic: Distraction and Unconscious Processing  (Read 2242 times)

Matt Koeske

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Distraction and Unconscious Processing
« on: March 21, 2013, 08:54:22 AM »
Here is a brief article and video from my University (Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh) about work David Creswell has been doing on distraction and unconscious processing: http://www.cmu.edu/homepage/health/2013/spring/distraction-a-good-thing.shtml.

That the "unconscious" is active (and fairly autonomous) even when consciousness is directed elsewhere would not be much of a surprise to Jungians, but looking a little deeper, I think we can see in a study like this that the autonomous psyche is not merely some kind of archaic repository of images.  It actually processes, computes, evaluates, reasons, thinks.  These are cognitive attributes that many conventionally associate with conscious cognition.

Equally, the study suggests that this unconscious processing is utilizing the visual and prefrontal cortices, which have often (simplistically) been associated with conscious thought.

Although Jung often fell into what strikes me as an unnatural (i.e., unevidenced, non-empirical) polarization of conscious and unconscious, he was also prescient enough to recognize that we do not think thoughts.  Thoughts think us.  That is a simple yet profound notion that contradicts basic human intuition (which may very well operate under the cognitive illusion that thinking is an active, directed process rather than something we merely "tune into" briefly).

The suggestion here is that the ego is not so much a heroic "center of consciousness" that must find a compromised balance with the other psychic superpower, the "unconscious".  The human ego is something of a grandiose illusion, even a figurehead or puppet ruler perhaps confabulating that what is being thought autonomously has been actively created and determined . . . that the "state" is being run by top down decisions when quite the opposite is true.
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