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The implications of unconscious processes in the construction of stories

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The implications of unconscious processes in the construction of stories

           During the 18th century, German romantic philosopher Sir Christopher Riegel has started studying the concept of unconscious mind. The unconscious mind usually indicates the unconscious processes undergoing in our brain while processing various information. The unconsciousness is a mind-boggling concept to most of us since that is the part of our mind which gives rise to a collection of mental phenomena that manifest in our mind but which we are not even aware of at the time of their occurrence.

           However, as the unconsciousness is a crucial part in the processes of story constructions in our brain, we are able to detect the presence of unconsciousness. The most prominent example that is able to show the presence of unconscious mind is the dancing girl optical illusion. When our brains process visual images to make some order or sense of the world, they have to make assumptions. The dancer is just a two dimensional image switching back and forth, but our brains process it as a three dimensional spinning object. While looking at the spinning dancer, we are not aware that our brain is actually processing the information. The assumptions are actually made by the unconscious part of the brain, since we do not purposely tell ourselves which direction the girl would spin. Various mental phenomena such as unconscious feelings, unconscious perceptions and hidden phobias could also confirm the presence of unconscious processes.

            I always feel stressed when I can foresee that I am going to have a hectic week ahead. No matter how hard I try to tell myself to relax, I still feel the same way. For example, during the Thanksgiving holiday, I could not enjoy myself. While going shopping together with my friends on Black Friday, I always felt that I had something to do. However, I had no homework that was due that week. I think that the above anxiousness is formulated from the unconscious part of my brain. It is because that the unconscious part of our brains can actually construct a scenario based on our accumulated experiences. The emotional feelings we usually have when we are busy with many homework and chapter tests are recorded as changes in neuron transmissions at the unconscious part of our brains. Hence, when the conscious part of our brains predicts that we are going to have a lot of work to do the week after Thanksgiving, there will be signals transferred from the conscious part to the unconscious part. Upon receiving signals, the unconscious part will respond by connecting all the relevant memories and experiences stored in our brains together to construct a logical story. After forming the story, the unconscious part would send out signals to the hypothalamus to produce corticotropin-releasing hormones, which stimulate the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland will in turn produce corticotropin hormones, which stimulate the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. The released hormone adrenaline will thus make us feel stressed and anxious by changing our body into fight or flight state.

               Besides the aforementioned unconscious feelings, the concept of unconscious perceptions is also important in showing the presence of unconscious processes in our brains. I am always afraid of walking in darkness alone, since I constantly equate darkness with insecurities and uncertainties. However, my perception of darkness is unjustifiable, since I have never had any horrible experiences at night. If so, where does my irrational perception of darkness come from? I think this perception is another story created by the unconscious part of my brain. As I become more mature, my brain starts to process the information collected from various sources and relate these information with different emotional feelings. When I grow older, more and more similar information are classified into different categories which could arouse different feelings in me. As I read from the news or newspapers, many horrible incidences and crimes such as robbery, sexual assaults and car accidents are usually occurred at night. Hence, when I hear the word “darkness” or actually walk alone at night, the conscious part of my brain would process the information gathered from various sensory receptors in my body and send it to the unconscious part via neuron transmissions. The unconscious part would automatically relate signals received to the corresponding memories recorded and then predict a scenario. After analyzing the situation, the unconscious part of my brain would send out signals to various parts of the body to allow me to act accordingly in order to keep myself from any hidden danger.

            However, our unconsciousness is constantly changing and shaping our personalities, thoughts and behaviors. This fact can be seen from an interesting phenomenon. Young children feel less scared than mature adults while watching horror movies. Conventionally, adults , more emotionally and physically mature than young children, should not be frightened by horror movies, since most of the adults know that horror scenes shown in the movies are not realities, but man-made special visual effects. If so, how to explain the sources of scarcities? Mature adults are actually not scared by the horror movies which they watched, but stories constructed by the unconscious part of their brains. Young children, in contrast, are not able to relate any of these horror scenes with memories recorded in the unconscious part of their brains. Thus, these scenes to them are just amusements, since the unconscious part of the brain cannot relate any collection of neuron changes that could arouse the feeling of fear. However, the unconscious part of the adults' brains is able to relate horror scenes with their past terrifying experiences and make up a story that is able to stimulate the fear recorded in their brains. Hence, this hidden phobia is also a result of the presence of unconscious processes in our mind.

              Brain is a powerful and magical organ. The various functions performed by both hemispheres are far beyond our explorations. It is also difficult to study the conscious and unconscious parts of our brain, since we sometimes do not even know whether our decisions are made consciously or unconsciously. However, no matter how complex the concept of the unconsciousness is, we could not ignore its presence, since the unconscious part of our brains is actively involved in our daily lives and play an important part in constructing our unconscious feelings, perceptions and deciding our hidden phobias.  Hence, if we are aware of the presence of the unconscious processes in our brains, we are able to understand ourselves better and make more rational decisions.