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Theory of Mind



January 2013
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The human mind is divided into:

1.       The Conscious Mind (10-12%):

– It is like the CPU of a computer with current rules of life

– Its functions include thinking, finding logic, feeling, analyzing, deciding, implementing decisions, controlling voluntary body movements

2.       The Subconscious Mind (88-90%)

– It can be compared to the hard disk of a computer

-Its basic functions include storing information and controlling involuntary body functions

– It is approximately 9 times bigger and 6,000 times more powerful than the conscious mind.

– It is divided into two parts:

  • Modern Memory (All current life experiences)
  • Primitive Mind (All past human life experiences)

Structure Of Mind

The Structure of the mind:

  1. Conscious mind
  2. Critical conscious mind
  3. Critical subconscious mind
  4. Modern memory
  5. Primitive mind

How the mind works?

The conscious mind retains and remembers the information, events and feelings of only the last hour and a half i.e. just 90 minutes. This information is then transferred to the critical conscious mind. The new rules created based on the awareness are a part of the conscious mind.

The critical conscious mind contains memories of approximately the last 24 hours or till we fall sleep, post which the information is transferred to the critical subconscious mind.

The critical subconscious mind first analyzes and then releases the information, or message units, into the Modern Memory Area of Mind. This occurs when sleep takes place or when consciousness is in

abeyance, as in the hypnotic, meditative state. When a person sleeps, the accumulated message units are immediately dropped into the subconscious mind.

The modern memory is a part of the subconscious mind. It holds memory from conception to the present. If the critical area of mind accepts information, it becomes a known in the modern memory.

Known is something that has been learned or experienced before; you understand it and are comfortable with it. An unknown is just the opposite. Because it is strange to you, it creates psychological and physiological reactions that are unfamiliar. These reactions threaten the body and the brain and the resulting fear brings pain. The known gives pleasure only because of the absence of pain. It will be accepted by the subconscious mind because it has been experienced before. A known can be a negative or a positive. It might not be a pleasurable experience but it represents pleasure because it is known. Motivation comes from the known in modern memory. These positive and negative known experiences create your life script.

The primitive mind is a part of the subconscious mind. It includes all primitive/ancient memories, including past life experiences, genetic heritage and evolved learning and conditioning. It operates the survival mechanisms of life triggering the fight/flight reaction when needed. It also controls the autonomic nervous system which operates the automatic functions of the body such as heart beat, respiration, digestion, cell reproduction, growth and healing.

Thus the subconscious mind contains the experiences of (current and past) life.

Critical Filter

As we start growing, we receive information from the body, the environment, the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Based on this information, a critical filter is formed which is partially in the conscious mind and partially in the subconscious mind. It is unique and this is where duality comes into play for a child i.e. the child now sees things in opposites: good-bad, right-wrong, like-dislike and so on. The critical filter can also be called our belief system.

This area of the mind develops from birth to approximately 8 years. This is where we analyze information based on socio, economic, education and religious conditioning. Before this critical area of mind is developed, everything we experience just is.  We accept it all as Truth.

So the critical filter once developed acts like a guard at the gate between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. It has the power to accept or reject suggestions from entering the subconscious mind. It has very good intentions. Its job is to protect us. Because change is viewed as a threat to our nervous system, any suggestion that does not match the existing programming automatically gets rejected. That is how it accomplishes its goal of protecting us.

Structure Of Mind - 2

Decision Making

Rules are experiences are like the two wheels of the bicycle of life. If the co-ordination between the two lives is smooth, there is no conflict in decision making. And if problems at some level are caused, it is mainly due to the conflict between the rules and experiences. As with awareness we are able to change our rules but not our experiences which are protected by the critical filter.

Whenever there is a need to make a decision, the conscious mind first looks at the rules and then compares the rules with the experiences. If the rules and experiences are leading to the same decision then the mind acts upon it but in case there is a conflict between the rules and experiences, then the conscious mind first tries to stick to the rules, but over a period of time generally the experiences win as they are stored in the subconscious mind which is 6000 times more powerful then the conscious mind.

Compiled By: Dr. Bhuvaneshwer Gupta

Source : Steven Pinker, How The Mind Works (1997), John R.Searle, Mind: A Brief Introduction (2004), V.S.Ramachandran & S.Blakeslee, Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind (1998).


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