Unconscious vs Subconscious: Understand what they mean and the difference between them

Unconscious vs Subconscious: Understand what they mean and the difference between them

They are similar but have several differences. Uncover the meanings!

Psychoanalysis studies different aspects of the human mind and behaviour and we have two very well-known terms that have a lot of influence on everything, the conscious, subconscious vs unconscious mind. However, today we are going to focus on the difference between these last two.

Many confuse these two terms, but in fact, they differ and even in a complex way. So, to understand their difference, we must first consider that we consciously perceive one part of our mind and are not aware of the other.

With this, the conscious part contains all the thoughts and experiences that we are able to perceive and remember. Already in the unconscious part are other mental experiences that we still don’t remember.

The difference in concepts: subconscious vs unconscious

The conscious part is just a small part of the vast amount of mental content found in our minds. However, we can say that within the non-conscious mind there are different levels of depth.


The subconscious mind is the opposite of the conscious mind, it stores more recent memories, but it is still in touch with the unconscious mind. That is, it is more common when referring to the most “superficial” or “shallow” part of the mind.


However, the unconscious is already a little more complex, as it deals with aspects with greater depth in memories. This concept concerns past experiences – those that were intentionally forgotten and those repressed by trauma.

Our unconscious is in contact with our conscious always through the subconscious. Therefore, she communicates through emotions, thoughts and dreams.

Furthermore, Freud explains that the unconscious has the power to cause illness, neurosis, disorders and other mental problems.

Underlying concepts: repression vs. suppression

Through these two other terms, it will be possible to explain a little how the distinction between “subconscious” and “unconscious” is installed.

First, it is important to stress that repression is found in the unconscious and suppression is found in the subconscious. As seen in the previous concept, the unconscious will repress memories, ie, pushing to places below the standard level of consciousness, as, to some extent, it feels danger.

In this way, we are talking about actions without much control, instinctively, as a way of psychologically defending yourself. These repressive actions are very common in the period when one is a child, as one does not yet have the capacity to deal with trauma situations.

However, suppression can exist for several reasons. Most of the time we try this option because they are experiences that were not good and for survival, but it can also be because of an option to save ourselves from something.


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