Freud’s theory of the mind describes the conscious segment as only the tip of the mental iceberg. The unconscious makes up the vast majority of the mind, lurking beneath our awareness. The article “To Affirm or Not Affirm?”, published by Psychology Today and written by Leena Guptha, DO, PCOM-San Diego’s Academic Dean of Graduate Studies, uses this concept as a jumping-off point for a deeper discussion of how environmental influences such as habits, stress, and even authority figures can alter the operation or structure of our minds without our being aware of the changes.
Self-affirmation theory (Steele CM 1988) states that we are driven to protect our concepts of ourselves as good, moral people, who act in ways that align with cultural and social norms. Leena proposes that the modern advertising infrastructure of incessant exposure to ads through social media, billboards, radio, and TV could be considered unconscious consumption of affirmations which, if accepted by the subconscious, could influence our perception of the advertised product or service.