Even with great technological advance in our times, we are still unable to fully understand the mysteries of our subconscious mind. In the 1900s, Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, points out that subconscious “indicates something lying in the mind beneath consciousness – or qualitatively –nbn to indicates another consciousness, a subterranean on, as it were. He is probably not clear about any of it.” He argues that since our subconscious is hidden under our consciousness, then it has a purpose and will of its own, which cannot be understood by the conscious mind. Although, it seems to live within us, comprised of everything we see, hear and other information the mind collects. Currently, many psychologists and psychiatrists believe that our subconscious stores the information that would seem “illogical” to the conscious mind and projects them back to the conscious mind when it feels the need to defend itself from danger. In other words, our subconscious mind can act as an inner sanctuary to protect ourselves from “dangers”, such as painful emotions, socially unacceptable ideas, wishes or traumatic experiences.
Perhaps the best way to approach our subconscious mind is not trying to understand it conceptually but rather to observe its effect on us. In Eva Hoffman’s “Lost in Translation”, she opens with a story about the time she experiences a wistful moment of sadness and pain as she was leaving Poland for Canada. It was during April 1959, when Hoffman is thirteen years old. Hoffman cries out that she “desperately want time to stop” in order to stop the ship with her will. As time slowly passes on, she suffers from “severe attack of nostalgia” (Hoffman, 133) that makes her feel like she fell into a new abyss of foreign emotions and walked into a world of emptiness. Hoffman calls out that she is “filled to the brim” (Hoffman, 133) of what she is about to lose. She is afraid making such change in her life would means that she will lose all her precious childhood memories, which includes “image of Her beloved hometown, Cracow, the countless hours she spent with her teacher and friends.” (Hoffman, 133) As she is leaving Poland, her hometown, she feels like a brutal hurricane slammed into her, knocked her off her feet and left her stranded on a deserted island. Dismal and confused, Hoffman didn’t know what to do. When she goes through this overwhelming change in her life, the pain of leaving behind overtook her by surprise. In Hoffman’s mind, her subconscious took control of her in order to protect Hoffman from that pain. It made her held on to her memories to form a barrier against the pain.
As a result, Hoffman subconsciously wishes to lose herself in her dream of her childhood and a world where comfort, safety, and happiness exist. From time to time, Hoffman would lie in bed and dream about the time she was filled with contentment, the time she rode the tramway and most importantly, the image of her hometown, Cracow. It might seem that our subconscious act as a safety mechanism to protect us from painful emotions. However, what exactly did her subconscious do to protect Hoffman? Toni Morrison’s “Stranger” offer an explanation by introduce the notion of protection through memories and imagination in her story. She meets a fisherwoman dressed in a long black dress with men’s shoes and a man’s hat in a river place. Morrison describes the woman as witty and full of wisdom. Immediately, She begins to “imagine more conversation with her…. I imagine a friendship, casual, effortless and delightful.”(Morrison, 199) With these imaginings about the fisherwoman based on her appearance, it seems to me that Morrison’s mind subconsciously projects images of what she hopes to see in the old lady. She wishes that the old lady would a good friend of her in the future. Yet at the same time, her subconscious mind also blocks out what she doesn’t want to see in the fisherwoman, such as her deceitful