Definition of Consciousness
Consciousness is the ability of a subject to know himself and his environment . The term comes from the Latin cum scientĭan , which means with knowledge. This capacity for knowledge that man shows is also present in the animal world, although, of course, with less possibilities. Thus, mammals have a sort of differentiated perception of the "I" itself, on a primitive scale, especially in ways of life with greater capacity for learning and intelligence , such as cetaceans or carnivores. The particular case of man is different, since that definition of consciousness allows him to recognize himself as an autonomous being, on the one hand, but in permanent interaction with the other human beings, on the other.
Going to an even deeper level, each theoretical field within psychology used its own definition of consciousness, while respecting a common idea concerning knowledge . In the case of psychoanalysis, the notion of consciousness that is managed is related to that of the unconscious . Thus, consciousness would be that instance of knowledge allowed by the moral of the subject. If any memory conflicts with this moral, it is excluded from consciousness and becomes part of the unconscious system, which is the reserve of the repressed. In this model, postulated and refined by Sigmund Freud, consciousness is not innate in the human being, but at birth, people have only an intense component of drives intended for immediate satisfaction. The progressive socialization, initiated by the contact with the mother at the beginning and with the interaction with the rest of the people in later stages, allows the incorporation of ethical, moral, behavioral and cultural guidelines that are forging the personality and generating one's own conscience . However, as we mentioned before, all those primitive impulses that are not expressed through the control system exercised by the experiences learned are not eliminated, but are preserved hidden in the unconscious, to be noted, for example, in dreams.
Anyway, this link established by Freud between consciousness and unconscious had (and has) numerous detractors . For example, in the United States, these theories did not prosper, while the analysis of consciousness continued in another way. Thus, it was established that the dream was not a deprivation of consciousness, as established by psychoanalysis, but another state of it. The discovery of rapid eye movements during certain stages of sleep and their study showed that the waves reflected in the electroencephalogram at this time were similar to those of wakefulness . Thus, the elimination of this phase of sleep (known by the acronym in English REM, equivalent to rapid eyes movements ) causes behavioral disorders of different repercussions.
Another treatment of the problem of consciousness in this century is offered by Jean Paul Sastre . Although his statements are few taken into account at present, the truth is that his conception of consciousness also excluded a relationship with the unconscious . In his work, Being and Nothing, he underestimates psychoanalysis and develops his own interpretation of the subject. On the other hand, within the framework of cognitive-behavioral approaches, it is speculated that consciousness or at least many of the conscious functions can be "reprogrammed" in case of alterations, so that consciousness as we know it would actually constitute an entity In constant transformation.
Currently, studies on this field are carried out from the perspectives of psychology , medicine , physiology and neurosciences in general. This is how many mysteries of the past are expected to be revealed in the short term. Based on current knowledge, it is necessary to reveal the reason why animal behavior offers numerous parameters of "consciousness" (or its equivalent) from the moment of birth, while in the case of human beings consciousness seems Forged progressively throughout life, with a minimum innate component and a huge proportion of content obtained in the context of family and society.