Self-hypnosis is potentially a very powerful tool that you can use to overcome fears, improve physical and mental performance and even help cure addictions.

But without our understanding of the unconscious mind, there would be no such thing as hypnotism, never mind self-hypnosis.

In this article we will look at what precisely the unconscious mind is and how it relates to your sense of wellbeing and your personality at all times.

What is the Unconscious?

Many of us think of Freud as something of a whack job who accused people of fancying their parents. Be that as it may though, he should also be remembered for the many incredibly contributions he made to the world of psychology. Before Freud there was no psychotherapy or counselling and before Freud there was no concept of an unconscious mind.

In Freud’s view, the unconscious mind was everything going on ‘under the surface’ throughout our waking lives. He often likened this to an iceberg – where only the very tip is visible with all the rest being murky and inaccessible. So you might say one thing and think another… but on some level there is more going on under the surface that even you’re unaware of.

It’s key to note at this point that Freud only ever described an ‘unconscious mind’ because that was the part of the mind we weren’t conscious of. He never used the term ‘subconscious’ which is really just a misnomer.


Our unconscious is made up of all the things our brain believes to be inconsequential or too upsetting for our conscious mind to handle. Thus we often ‘repress’ memories and thus can’t remember them, we deny things and we fail to notice things – but they are all still there working away under the surface.

And if there are unconscious associations we hold about something or beliefs about something – then these can hold us back and cause us not to perform at our best, or event to become mentally ill.

This then is the role of classic Freudian psychodynamic intervention – to help the individual come to terms and move past these unconscious road blocks. Freud had many tools for doing this, from the ‘ink blot test’ to the interpretation of dreams (the ‘royal road to the unconsciou’).


Another tool of Freud’s though was hypnotism, which aims to put patients in a ‘suggestible state’ where they are able to almost ‘switch off’ their conscious, critical mind for a bit. This allows the hypnotist, therapist or even the individual themselves to ‘talk’ to the unconscious mind directly and even to plant suggestions that might alter it.