The Unconscious mind was much maligned by Freud and his followers. The Unconscious was supposed to be not very co-operative as it was not supposed to be in voluntary control. It made the people, especially in the Western world feel scared of something that no one knew much about.
Hypnosis was about the Unconscious. Freud practiced hypnosis during initial years of his practice. But he gave it up at some stage. My own understanding is that probably Freud was not very knowledgeable about the subject himself. Credit goes to him for being able to think differently and to be able to look at the areas of psychology that few in the Western world had done till his time.
That the Unconscious mind was emotional in nature and controlled our body’s physiology was also known at that time.
As time has passed, we have learnt so much in neuroscience. We now know that a particular part of the nervous system is not in our voluntary control. Just like the Unconscious, it affects our internal organs and controls our blood pressure, heart rate, our digestive system for example. This part of the brain is called the Limbic System. Its various parts and connections affect and are affected by emotions.
However, the scientists called this part of the brain Archicortex or Old Brain or Primitive Brain. This was in comparison to the “more intelligent” Neocortex or New Brain that was responsible for logical thinking. The Western world has been smitten by this part of the nervous system, ignoring and undervaluing the emotional part of the brain because it was just “emotional.” Interestingly, in the Eastern part of the world, the Unconscious has been given due respect for thousands of years. People have been meditating in many forms, in places like India, China and Japan for a few thousand years at least. They were not afraid of the Unconscious. They knew how to “tame” the Unconscious.
One of the key issues that has been overlooked till date is the role that images play in bridging the Old Brain and the New Brain. The images do not have a language. For example, the image of a shoe will bring up a certain image in your mind. If a hundred people knowing a hundred languages have the same image in their mind, they will use a different word in each language to describe it.
A joyful experience will carry same set of images in people speaking different languages. A trauma will be a trauma in French, English or German or Japanese. The images could be same in each case. The languages describing those images will be different. All memories are stored as images (not in languages).
There is a rule that affects how our lives can change. It has to do with how we interpret an image. If we are able to change the interpretation of an imagery experience, the words that describe that event will change too.
A man was driving a car. He passed by a stationary bus at a bus stop, going in the same direction. He did not notice that a woman was crossing the road in front of the bus. There was an accident. The woman hit his dashboard, fell on the road and later died. The driver of the car suffered with trauma and guilt about the accident. It was only when the traumatic emotions were changed, that he got his sleep back to normal.
This is an example of the way the Conscious mind changes its interpretation of the traumatic event.
Why is this important?
The images are created by the Unconscious mind. The interpretation (not the emotional experience) is carried out by the Conscious mind. If the Unconscious mind makes us feel traumatized by holding on to a particular memory, then the Conscious mind interprets it as a trauma. But if the Unconscious mind has the same images and the traumatic emotions are neutralized, the Conscious mind interprets the experience as a learning experience only. The suffering stops.
If we can change the interpretation of every experience that we are scared of, our whole life changes. This is also how a person with Depression can be healed. Many times they would need therapy to help them heal.