Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious, by Timothy Wilson

One of the best books around for understanding the differences between Freud's unconscious and the unconscious of modern experimental psychology.

Wilson looks at nonconscious processes from the perspective of self-awareness, showing how the inaccessibility of our mental processes often causes us to misundersand ourselves and our motivations in fundamental ways.

Favorite quote:

Consider that at any given moment, our five senses are taking in more than 11,000,000 pieces of information. Scientists have determined this number by counting the receptor cells each sense organ has and the nerves that go from these cells to the brain. ... Scientists have also tried to determine how many of these signals can be processed consciously at any given point in time, by looking as such things as how quickly people can read, consciously detect different flashes of light, and tell apart different smells. The most liberal estimate is that people can process consciously about 40 pieces of information per second. Think about it: we take in 11,000,000 pieces of information per second but can process only 40 of them consciously. What happens to the other 10,999,960?

Top