Middle Unconscious


The middle unconscious is the area of the personality in which we integrate the experiences, learnings, gifts, and skills which form the foundation of our conscious expression in the world.

Think about learning complex patterns of personal expression, for example learning to walk, acquiring language skills, becoming adept at a musical instrument or sport, or developing roles within family and society.
All such patterns depend on many different components being synthesized into an integrated whole—various discrete movements make up the pattern of walking, many specific techniques and concepts make up the pattern of playing music, and learnings like grammar and vocabulary make up our ability to speak a language.

However, while these smaller components are the building blocks for the more complex patterns, the components themselves must remain largely unconscious when expressing via the pattern. Otherwise, our awareness would be so filled with the many individual elements that we could not express a larger pattern: we could not walk if we we were thinking of all the individual movements, nor play an instrument if consciously remembering all the theory and technique, nor speak a language when constantly preoccupied with the rules of grammar.

Thus, in the process of learning complex patterns of expression, we render unconscious—in the middle unconscious—the individual building blocks of expression. Our consciousness and will are thereby freed to express through the patterns: we focus on where we are walking rather than on the elements of walking, on the meaning of the music rather than on the technique, and on what we are saying rather than on the mechanics of the language. This same process can build up complete identity systems within the personality called subpersonalities, a much-studied phenomenon in psychosynthesis.

The middle unconscious demonstrates the wondrous gift of human unconscious functioning, “that plastic part of our unconscious which lies at our disposal, empowering us with an unlimited capacity to learn and to create” (Assagioli, Psychosynthesis, p. 22). This “plastic” or pliable quality describes the capacity to store patterns of skills, behaviors, feelings, attitudes, and abilities outside awareness, thereby forming the infrastructure of our conscious lives. This is why the middle unconscious is depicted as immediately surrounding the consciousness and will of “I,” the essence of personal identity.