The term conscious and unconscious are terms scientists cannot agree on. Because there are no mutually agreed upon definitions for either term it is impossible for any two people to understand their usage in the same way.
I also believe the term consciousness and the unconscious have been blown way out of proportion, particularly when they have no firmly agreed upon definitions. The term unconscious is often used to infantilize people the same way original sin is used to keep people in a perpetual state of childhood. The unconscious and original sin are notions with a contrived narrative that sets people up to believe they need to rely on a ‘knowing’ authority to help them become better at being human.
Neuroscientist Jeff Hawkins believes consciousness is simply what it feels like to have a neocortex, and I agree with him. There is no magic sauce or powder or knowledge to becoming more or less conscious. Plus, there are plenty of observable data points we can use to understand how we humans interact with information.
The brain is an organ of paranoia. Society doesn’t decided that biology does. The brain is supposed to signal us with fear multiple times each day. Making people paranoid and fearful of their fear response is counter productive. If I use fear to inform me about prediction violation, I can deal with a situation quickly and decisively just like animals do. Animals don’t have paranoia about their paranoia because nobody is telling them their fear response is societally programmed or overblown.
The children I know who are micromanaged for how they emote and behave are wracked with anxiety and either withdrawn or aggressive.
My daughter doesn’t constantly second guess herself because she is allowed to respond how she responds without commentary or push back. I supply her with as much information as I can to help her understand the world around her, but I don’t tell her how to emote or behave. I just try to help her make optimal predictive decisions for what to do next. Screaming and crying about a scary unknown event is very human. I cannot make her brain stop being her brain and I don’t expect her to be in a calm zen state every moment of every day. If she screams and cries we move through the experience, get on with things, and usually the next time the event rolls around she figures out to handle it. If I make commentary using my opinions and my words for or how she is emoting and how she could emote differently, it will make her confused and skittish.
I am not afraid of my responses to fear. I appreciate them for how they inform me. Even though my fear response can be a pain in the neck, it is crucial for me to remain in constant awareness of potential prediction violations. I don’t love pain, but without it, I would be a mess of broken bones, burns, and cuts. People born without pain sensors suffer gruesome injuries their whole lives. They don’t know how to position themselves in space. Without the fear response, fight or flight, we would suffer that same fate.
I think we will just have to agree to disagree for the time being. I appreciate the conversation, as always.