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October 2021

States of Consciousness

Abstract: Contents: Section 1: States The systems approach to states of consciousness - The components of consciousness: Awareness, energy, structure - Conservative and radical views of the mind - The nature of ordinary consciousness - Discrete states of consciousness - Stabilization of states of consciousness - Induction of altered states: going to sleep, hypnosis, meditation - Subsystems - Individual differences - Using drugs to induce altered states - Observation of internal states - identity states - Strategies in using the systems approach - The depth dimension of a state of consciousness - State-specific communication - State-specific sciences - Higher states of consciousness Section II: Speculation As above, so below: Five basic principles uderlying physics and psychology - ordinary consciousness as a state of illusion - Ways of illusion

Note: The relation between altered states of consciousness and changes in imagery experiences has been explored in depth by Charles T. Tart. In several books he has explored consciousness and its different states - according to Western and Eastern theories and practices, and covering areas like meditation, drug states, emotional states, dreams, hypnosis and others. A “State of consciousness” is a theoretical construct, aimed at describing a human experience of different modes and types of attention and awareness. ‘Ordinary consciousness’ can be considered a ‘baseline’, and ‘alterations’ are descriptions of specific properties assigned to the states identified. Tart presents a valuable set of “Experiential criteria for detecting an altered state of consciousness (ASC): Alterations perceived in: Exteroception (sensing the external world), Interoception (sensing the body), Input-processing (seeing meaningful stimuli), Emotions, Memory, Time sense, sense of Identity, Evaluation and Cognitive processing, Motor output and Interaction with the environment. (p. 12f). Tart advocates a complex model of perception (p. 49) in which stimuli from others, self and the external world produce effects that can be classified as mental, emotional and bodily. We understand this as a ‘map’ of three representational systems: Mind - Emotion - Body - close to the model of Horowitz (1983)


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