EXPERIENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CERTAIN ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS Komilla Thapa London, England Vinoda N. Murthy Bangalore, India The concept of Altered States of Consciousness (ASCs) emerged from experiential and phenomenological accounts of various induction procedures including meditation, that indi Sounds like Shaman work. Those with personal experience of conditions such as Depersonalisation often cite the opposite, that it is an increased awareness of the environment and the self that results in altered states of consciousness. are defined as belonging to the integrative mode. The DMN is closely associated with higher-order cognitive functions such as supporting the neurological basis for the self (e.g. "[note 1]. Task-positive networks are associated with the inverse of these things e.g., focus on and scrutiny of the external world. Examples include normal waking consciousness, the anesthetized or the depressed state. , Due to the behaviourist paradigm in psychology altered states of consciousness were dismissed as a field of scientific inquiry during the early 20th century. Test Optional Admissions: Benefiting Schools, Students, or Both? Psychotic episodes often include delusions, paranoia, derealization, depersonalization, and hallucinations (Revonsuo et al., 2008). "An altered state of consciousness (ASC) may be defined as a temporary change in the overall pattern of subjective experience, such that the individual believes that his or her mental functioning is distinctly different from certain general norms for his or her normal waking state of consciousness". There is no general definition of an altered state of consciousness, as any definitional attempt would firstly have to rely on a definition of a normal state of consciousness. Altered state of consciousness An altered state of consciousness, also called altered state of mind or a change of mind, is any condition which is significantly different from the normal state of wakefulness. Altered states of consciousness might have been employed by humans as early as 30,000 years ago.
An altered state of consciousness is any state in which a person's sense perceptions are different than normal. A first summary of the existing literature was carried out by Charles T. Tart in his book Altered the States of Consciousness, which led to a more common use of the term. , Their return into psychology began with Wiliam James' interest into a variety of altered states, such as "mystical experiences and drug-induced states". The state of consciousness brought about by MDMA ingestion includes a rise in positive feelings and a reduction in negative feelings (Aldridge, D., & Fachner, J. ö. The attempts of classification discussed in the following focus on slightly different aspects of ASCs. An MRI study conducted at Harvard Medical school in 2007, found that a sleep-deprived brain was not capable of being in control of its sensorimotor functions, leading to an impairment to the patient's self-awareness. For empirical research, such patterns correspond to a multivariate combination of independent 'consciousness factors', which can be quantified via questionnaires.  Fasting refers to the ability to willingly refrain from food and possibly drinks as well. An altered state of consciousness is any state which is significantly different from a normative waking beta wave state. People can enter altered states in dreaming. His definition relies only on subjective experience, leaving aside behavioral changes and physiological response. Several authors suggested classification schemata with regard to the genesis of altered states and with regard to the type of experiences: A classification with five categories was suggested by Vaitl to distinguish ASCs according to how they were induced: Vaitl further suggests four basic aspects of experiences: (1) activation (2) awareness span (3) self-awareness (4) sensory dynamics. There are also ASCs which are caused by less recreational purposes; people who utilize illegal substances, or heavy dosages of medications, as well as large amounts of alcohol, can indeed comply with the definition of an ASC (Revonsuo et al., 2008). Persinger, Michael. (pp. Hruby. Meningitis - Topic Overview (December 8, 2010) from: "Harvard Heart Letter examines the costs of not getting enough sleep – Harvard Health Publications". Farthing adds to his definition that an ASC is short-termed or at least reversible and that it might not even be recognized as an ASC at that moment. "Chemical Input—Religious Output: Entheogens." The front of the brain is known as the prefrontal cortex responsible for analytical thought (Kunsman, 2012). Coupled with deprivation of sleep and oxygen, another form of deprivation includes fasting.  Unfortunately, there are very few studies which have thoroughly investigated psychotic episodes, and the ability to predict this disorder remains unclear. An altered state of consciousness is a state of awareness that's not normally achievable in which your mind is not working the way it normally does. "Altered States of Consciousness," in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal, edited by Gordon Stein (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996). There is no final consensus what the most accurate definition for what purpose is. A person in an altered state may also experience difficulties in solving problems, as information processing is often impaired. the ability to screen out, inhibit filter or gate extraneous stimuli and to direct selective attention to salient features of the environment. While there are measurable changes in brain waves that accompany some altered states, and much has been said about what those specific brain wave states are most conducive to metaphysically, there is also considerable pseudoscience and straight-out bullshit that … (Humphrey, N. 2001) This may cause one to experience many levels of altered consciousness. Thoughts and mental processes can be disorganized or impaired. 2005). Characteristics of Altered States of Consciousness.  Attempts to define the term can however be found in Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience. Already registered? episodic memory). We may awaken from a loud noise or somebody shaking our leg.  There are many ways that one's consciousness can be altered, such as by using psychoactive drugs, which are defined as chemical substances that pass through the blood and disturb brain function, causing changes in awareness, attitude, consciousness, and behavior. MDMA (ecstasy) is a drug that also alters one's state of consciousness. A n altered state of consciousness is a brain state wherein one loses the sense of identity with one's body or with one's normal sense perceptions. Sacks, Oliver W. An anthropologist on Mars : seven paradoxical tales (New York : Knopf, 1995). Appearances as Altered States of Consciousness. The external impact diverts the blood flow from the front of the brain to other areas.  They were pathologized and merely seen as symptoms of intoxication or demonic possession. Yes, I want to get the most out of Alison by receiving tips, updates and exclusive offers. elevated arousal). , Meditation in its various forms is being rediscovered by modern psychology because of its therapeutic potential and its ability to "enable the activity of the mind to settle down".  In order to define an ASC, Tart focuses on the importance of subjective experience. It is proposed that a general distinction can be made between two fundamentally different modes of cognition: Primary and secondary consciousness.  Foundations for the research have been laid out by various scientists such as Abraham Maslow, Walter N. Pahnke, Stanislav Grof and Charles Tart. The dissociation caused by fasting is not only life-threatening but it is the reason why extended fasting periods can lead to ASC.  Tart coined the key terms discrete[note 2] and baseline states of consciousness and thought about a general classification system for ASCs. Users' emotions are increased and inhibitions lowered, often accompanied by a sensation of intimacy or connection with other people. Later investigations by Rick Doblin found that participants valued those experiences as "spiritual high points of their lives". Studies have not been able to clearly identify when a person is reaching a higher level of risk for a psychotic episode (Schimmelmann, B., Walger, P., & Schultze-Lutter, F., 2013), but the earlier people are treated for psychosis the more likely they are to avoid the devastating consequences which could lead to a psychotic disorder (Schimmelmann, B., Walger, P., & Schultze-Lutter, F., 2013). This page was last edited on 27 November 2020, at 06:51. The next item of interest is oxygen deficiency, questioning how oxygen deficiency impacts the brain is an important part of comprehending why ASC occurs when there is oxygen deprivation in an environment. This is exactly when an altered state of consciousness is experienced.. "The Myth of Alpha Consciousness," Skeptical Inquirer, 10, no. Humanity's encounter with the mystical and the evolution of the phenomenon of Shamanism, religion and culture itself, is perhaps due to a consumption psychedelic compounds in the form of mushrooms and plants hundreds of thousands of years ago. The first condition, traumatic experience, is defined as a lesion caused by an external force (Trauma. Health.harvard.edu. In academia, the expression was used as early as 1966 by Arnold M. Ludwig and brought into common usage from 1969 by Charles Tart. Extensive scientific investigation on altered states of consciousness and their relationship to drug interactions with receptors in the brain have been performed. For the medical concept, see, Please review the contents of the article and, History of the science and theoretical-modelling, Neurobiological models of altered state experiences, "Ordinary waking state is qualitatively distinct from dreaming, for instance, or from being under the influence of a significant amount of alcohol. schizophrenia. 82–96). Spanos, Nicholas P. Multiple Identities and False Memories: A Sociocognitive Perspective (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1996). [Translated from German]: Cannabis alters mental activity, memory, and pain perception. "a unique, dynamic pattern or configuration of psychological structures" (Tart,1969). Altered-state theory occurs when a person is actually hypnotized and is therefore in a different, or altered, state of mind. Pilch explains in his recent paper, "Appearances of the Risen Jesus in Cultural Context," that an ASC is: "...a human condition of experience in which sensations, perception, cognition, and emotions are altered. In addition to increasing the GABA and decreasing the glutamate in the brain, alcohol increases the amount of the chemical dopamine in the brain, which is one of the addictive causes of alcoholism. Characteristics Of Normal Waking Consciousness, Characteristics Of Altered States Of Consciousness, Studying Consciousness: Physiological Measurements, Studying Consciousness: Behaviour Demonstrated, Studying Consciousness: Individual Information Provided, Sympathetic And Parasympathetic Nervous Systems, Studies On Cognitive Processes Of The Brain.  Alcohol increases the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) in the brain. Sleep deprivation can be chronic or short-term depending on the severity of the patient's condition. Starting from this Charles Tart focuses his definition on the subjective experience of a state of consciousness and its deviation from a normal waking state. Altered states of consciousness may also be induced by:[original research? Sacks, Oliver W. A leg to stand on (New York : Summit Books, 1984). ], Emotions influence behavior that alters the state of consciousness. This "phase transition" between these two fundamentally different poles of consciousness is facilitated by a collapse of the normally highly organized activity within the default mode network (DMN) and a decoupling between the DMN and the medial temporal lobes (MTLs), which are normally significantly coupled. During the seizure it is said that the patient will experience hallucinations and loss of mental control causing temporary dissociation from reality.  It describes induced changes in one's mental state, almost always temporary. Altered or abnormal levels of consciousness describe states in which a person either has decreased cognitive function or cannot be easily aroused. Fasting can occur because of religious purposes or from psychological conditions such as anorexia. A classification of Altered States of Consciousness is helpful if one wants to compare or differentiate between induced ASCs and other variations of consciousness. The work of Adolph Dittrich aimed to empirically determine common underlying dimensions of consciousness altererations induced by different methods, such as drugs or non-pharmacological methods.  James' investigations into first-person-subjective-experience contributed to the reconsideration of introspection as a valuable research method in the academic community.. According to Dr. Jeffrey R. Avner, professor of clinical pediatrics, a crucial element to understanding accidental and pathological causes to altered states of consciousness (ASC) is that it begins with reduced self-awareness followed by reduced awareness in the environment (2006). , In the midst of the rise of new-age subculture Stanislav Grof and others formed the new field of transpersonal psychology, which emphasized "the importance of individual human experience, validity of mystical and spiritual experience, interconnectedness of self with others and the world and potential of self-transformation".. Farthing (1992, p. 205), He lists fourteen dimensions of changed subjective experience. This variability of experience is considered as normal fluctuation, while any state that is experienced to diverge significantly from it can be called an ASC. A synonymous phrase is "altered state of awareness". Cocaine inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters in the synapse, resulting in an altered state of consciousness or a "high" (Aldridge, D., & Fachner, J. ö. Interdisciplinary research enterprises have set out to study the convergence of serotonergic and glutamatergic models of psychosis and dynamic neurotransmitter interactions, derived from the study of hallucinogenic drugs, in the future. Thoughts can become disorganised, often illogical and lacking in sequence, as a result of an altered state of consciousness. The major characteristics of consciousness are alertness and being oriented to place and time. Examples of opioids include heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. Or alternately, the self as perceived psychologically, is not dually perceived as necessarily connected to the body. Altered States of Consciousness The Division of Perceptual Studies is pursing research aimed at elucidating the relationship between the activities of a human mind and the multitude of physiological activities occurring in its associated brain and body functioning also known in the research literature as the ‘mind-brain problem’. When the damage becomes uncontrollable, the patient experiences changes in behavior and impaired self-awareness. (2005). Dreams usually in-volve fictive events that are organized in a story-like manner, characterized by a range of internally generated sensory, per-ceptual, and emotional experiences (Desseilles et … Michael Winkelman identifies four different "modes of consciousness": (1) the waking mode (2) the deep sleep mode (3) the REM sleep / dreaming mode (4) the integrative mode. Blackmore, Susan J., Dying to Live : Near-death Experiences, (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1993). Cocaine alters one's state of consciousness. The CSTC feedback loop plays a major role in gating or filtering out external and internal information to the cortex. Findings implicate that abnormalities of serotonin function and the serotonergic system could be responsible for psychiatric disorders such as the spectrum of schizophrenia (gating) disorders and therefore, that serotonin agonist or antagonists might be useful in the treatment of e.g. According to Medlineplus epilepsy can be described as a brain disorder that causes seizures (2013). It has been hypothesized that hallucinogens act either as an antagonist or an agonist at serotonin-2A receptors and will elicit a state that shares some common phenomenological features with early acute stages of the group of schizophrenia disorders.. Dreaming may be defined as a mental state, an altered state of consciousness, which occurs during sleep. The characteristics of consciousness are creativity, altruism, infinity and indestructability. Emotions can be influenced by various stimuli.. Alternatively Roland Fischer suggests a classification along ergotropic (i.e., ecstasy) or trophotropic (i.e., meditation) properties. Many patients report hallucinations because sleep deprivation impacts the brain. One who is under the influence of cannabis may (or may not) experience degrees of paranoia, increased sensitivity, and delayed reactions not normal for their usual conscious state. The ingester's feelings may alter quickly through a range from fear to ecstasy. LSD's main effects are emotional and psychological. Further, Ken Wilber proposes a multidimensional system and adds that the individual experience of an ASC is shaped by a person's unique psychological development. Abraham Maslow's research on peak experiences, as moments of "highest happiness and fulfillment", further contributed to the depathologization of altered states. "Altered states of consciousness are alternate patterns or configurations of experience, which differ qualitatively from a baseline state. Chapter 10 of. As a working definition for neuroscientific research, it might suffice to presume that most people have a strong intuition concerning which variability in their everyday wakeful state feels normal to them. A 2009 review of anxiety and cannabis studies concluded that “frequent cannabis users appear to have higher levels of anxiety than non-users,” and that “a considerable number of subjects developed anxiety disorders before the first symptoms of cannabis dependence.” That led researchers to believe that anxiety-prone people tend to use cannabis as a self-prescribed anxiety medicine, opposing the idea that cannabis is what's causing the anxiety.. An altered state of consciousness is a temporary change in one's normal mental state without being considered unconscious. Various researchers have attempted the classification into a broader framework. Opioids are a class of drugs that alter consciousness. Sleep deprivation is also associated with ASC, and can provoke seizures due to fatigue. , Another pathological cause is psychosis, otherwise known as a psychotic episode. Cocaine affects the neurotransmitters that nerves use to communicate with each other. The reason a traumatic experience causes altered states of consciousness is that it changes how the brain works. Beyerstein, Barry. , Any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking state, This article is about the psychological concept. , Cannabis is a psychoactive drug that is known to alter the state of consciousness. 2005). The expression "entropy" is applied here in the context of states of consciousness and their associated neurodynamics, while high entropy is synonymous with high disorder. A prime example of an infection includes meningitis. 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