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Brian Tracy and the Subconscious Mind

by Bruce Levi, ICARE Ministries, April 2009

 

NOTE: The majority of this article was originally written as a response to someone who invited me to watch a YouTube video, in which self-help teacher Brian Tracy spoke about goal-setting and the need to "program your subconscious." However, my research into Psychology had previously shown me that the idea of a so-called "subconscious mind" is spurious. 

 

In a YouTube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZG6PqcS9lc popular self-help teacher Brian Tracy counsels viewers: ”program your subconscious mind" in his lesson on goal-setting.

There is a big problem here, which cannot be overlooked or just passed over. For no one has ever demonstrated that the "subconscious mind" even exists, let alone that in can be programmed and then accessed by people for self-help.  See the following websites regarding the speculative, unscientific nature of the so-called "subconscious mind.”  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subconscious    

http://skeptic.com/unconscious.html  

To trust in an unproven concept of an “unconscious mind,” such that one bases his or her important goal-setting and other major life’s decision-making actions on it, is an act of extreme faith. Or, to put it another way, this a religion. Carl Jung, one of the "fathers of psychology" recognized this fact, himself.  The concept of “subconscious mind” is popular with “New Age” religions.  

Sigmund Freud usually comes to mind when the subject of the “subconscious mind” comes up. Freud used the German word, “Unbewusste,” which is often translated as “subconscious.” However, Unbewusste can better be translated literally as “not be aware of” or simply “unknown.” It can also mean “unable to be known.” A proper question is this: If this part of one’s mind is below one’s ability to have awareness of,  is simply unknown, or is unable to be known,  just why should one rely on it for important matters? No matter how Freud’s term is translated into English, the concept that people have an important part of their mind that is below (sub) their awareness (conscious), and which they are to nevertheless train and rely upon, approaches absurdity.

Certainly, for anyone who claims to hold to a biblical, Christian worldview, it would be just plain antithetical to align with Brian Tracy, and other New Age self-help teachers, whose faith rests on an unproven and mystical idea of the mind. The Bible makes no allowance for a “subconscious mind.” On the contrary, the Bible commands “renew your mind” (Romans 12:2), but not ever to renew a subconscious mind that one is not even aware of. How can anyone renew something he is not aware of?  Freud himself hated Christianity, and developed his theory of the human psyche with its "subconscious (Unbewusste) mind" in opposition to Christianity. This fact seems to not be taught openly by Brian Tracy and other self-help teachers.  I wonder what would happen if Brian Tracy were to openly explain that he relies on an anti-Christianconcept as a core principle of his teachings? My guess is that many "Christians" who follow him would stop doing so, and that  his income would drop.

If people have a subconscious mind that influences or controls them, then we are mere robots who are controlled by what we cannot cognate (become aware of). For subconscious means "below our ability to be aware of." To think that we can program that which we are incapable of becoming aware of seems to be a waste of time. Then, even if we could program our“subconscious”  minds, how would we pull up what we have programmed into it when it is below (sub) our conscious (awareness)? Further, what if someone put something in our minds, which we of course would not be aware of because that part of the mind is below our awareness - would those teachings override what Brian Tracy told us to put in our mind? How would we even know which ideas are influencing us, because those ideas are below our ability to become aware of? Furthermore, why program that which one cannot be sure even exists in the first place? Unless, of course, this is all about religion and money and is not actual fact. This whole "subconscious mind" thing sounds like a hoax. Or, is it like the psychologist Carl Jung stated - something he learned about from demonic spirits from the spirit world?

Now, on a positive note, goal setting is a great idea. If that is where Brian Tracy would stop, he might have something. But, he delves into the mystical religious realms with his call to program the subconscious (unknowable mind). He is asking us to believe his religion. He is asking us to have faith, which is religion. The problem is not with Brian's goal setting, but with his "preaching" of unproven, and by its own definition, inaccessible (subconscious: that which is sub, or beneath, our ability to know) mind.

May I suggest you read the following that helps bring a greater perspective to finding truth about one's mind. The Psychological Way: The Spiritual Way, by co-authors, Bobgan, Martin M. and Bobgan, Deidre N., Bethany House Pub Bloomington, Minnesota, U.S.A. 1981. See  their website: www.psychoheresy-aware.org that will be helpful in discerning this topic of psychology. And, Psychology and the Church, by Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon.

In closing, it is not my aim here to end friendships over this "unknown mind" issue. I am not offended by the invitation to examine Brian Tracy’s teachings. I formerly believed in elements of Freudian, and other theories of, psychology that I had been taught in highschool by a "Christian" teacher and at Brigham Young Univertisty. However, when I recently researched the subject, I learned that there is no objective, scientific evidence for the unconscious mind. Because the idea of the subconscious is so prevalent in Western Culture, it is not surprising that so many people rely on it and that so many people accept these theories without even realizing it. People joke about it constantly. On the other hand, it seems odd that a rationalistic culture, which claims to demand empirical proof for everything,  would exercise extreme faith as the basis for learning and for its understanding of humankind cognition.

However, it is not so strange or unexpected that people would resort to such religious ideas as the subconscious mind. For this phenomenon of relying on human-created theories was described almost 2,000 years ago in the best-selling book of all time. See the New Testament, Romans, chapter one, verses 17-25.

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  Bruce F. Levi was raised in Mormonism in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, was a Mormon Missionary in Germany and graduated from Brigham Young University.

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