The subconscious is an abstract concept that is often used to describe the mind or behavior of a particular person. It is a term that encompasses all information that cannot be fully processed consciously. According to Gavin De Becker, “Instinct is the result of the subconscious.” In his book “The Gift of Fear”, he explains how an individual's subconscious can process information and make them act out of fear, without them fully understanding why they are doing so. By understanding the meaning and concepts of the unconscious and subconscious, people can learn a great deal about themselves.
To remember the difference between the two, it can be helpful to think of a submarine travelling below the surface of the water in the same way that subconscious thoughts and actions occur below the surface of consciousness. The subconscious can be derived through introspection and people can identify their behavior in a subconscious way, such as through motivation or impulse. Information stored in the subconscious or preconscious mind may not be on the surface, but it is accessible. The difference is that the subconscious stores all the information needed to perform a task, such as riding a bike, while allowing the conscious mind to focus on other things like traffic lights and one's environment.
When a stimulus is received and there is a habit in the subconscious mind related to it, it will automatically engage in related behavior. Freud initially used the terms “subconscious” and “unconscious” interchangeably, but later rejected this idea. Fears or desires that motivate a person but are not directly known to them are also considered subconscious. The term “subconscious” is more closely related to psychoanalysis while “subconsciousness” is more general and secular in its use.
Just like a submarine travels underwater, something that is subconscious exists beneath normal consciousness.