States of Consciousness


Consciousness: Awareness of both internal and external stimuli or events.

††††††††† Internal: Awareness of your sensations. (Headaches, breathing, etc.)

External: Attend to you as you go through your day. (Comments, music, etc.)



Stream of Consciousness: Continuous flow of changing sensations, images, thoughts and feelings.


Unconscious Thought: (According to Freud) A reservoir of unacceptable wishes, feelings and thoughts that are beyond conscious awareness.


*Consciousness has different levels and forms.


Controlled Process: Represents the most alert states of consciousness, in which individuals actively focus their efforts towards a goal.

††††††††† *Controlled Process requires focused attention.


Automatic Process: Forms of consciousness that require minimum attention and do not interfere with ongoing activities.


Daydreaming: Another form of consciousness that involves a lower level of conscious effort.


Altered State of Consciousness: Occurs when a person is in a mental state that noticeably differs from normal awareness. It is produced by drugs, medication, hypnosis, sensory depravation and traumas.





Why do we sleep?

††††††††† We sleep for restoration and repair (Repair theory) and to keep us from wasting energy and risking harm during the time of day or night that we are not adapted (ecological theory).

Sleep and Circadian Rhythms:

††††††††† A circadian rhythm is a cycle of about 24 hours. The human sleep/wake cycle is an important circadian rhythm. This cycle can become desynchronized.


Sleep Depravation and Needs:

††††††††† Individuals have gone without sleep for 11 days and after a restorative sleep, seem to show no serious ill effects. In more normal circumstances, individuals have more difficulty staying awake all night, especially for 3 to 6 a.m. The average American gets just under 7 hours of sleep each night. An increasing number of sleep researchers believe that 8 hours or more are needed to function optimally the next day. Sleep debts can build quickly and jeopardize health and well being.


Stages of Sleep:

††††††††† Different stages of sleep are measured by electroencephalograph (EEG), which measures the brainís electrical activity. Alpha waves occur while we are in a relaxed state. When we sleep we move from light sleep in stage 1 to deep sleep in stage 4 (delta waves). Then we go directly into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, where dreams occur. Each night we go through a number of these sleep cycles. REM sleep peaks in early infancy and then declines. REM sleep may be involved in the brains growth and memory.


Sleep Disorders:


††††††††† Insomnia:

††††††††† ††††††††† A common sleep problem. It is the inability to sleep.


††††††††† Somnambulism:

††††††††† ††††††††† The formal term for sleepwalking, which occurs during the deepest stages of sleep.


††††††††† Nightmare:

††††††††† ††††††††† A frightening dream that awakens the sleeper from REM sleep.


††††††††† Night Terror:

††††††††† ††††††††† Characterized by a number of physiological reactions such as, rapid heart rate and breathing, loud screams, heavy perspiration and physical movement.


††††††††† Narcolepsy:

††††††††† ††††††††† Overpowering urge to fall asleep.


††††††††† Sleep Apnea:

††††††††† ††††††††† A sleep disorder in which individuals stop breathing because the windpipe fails to open or brain process involved in respiration fails to work.






Interpretation of Dreams


††††††††† Freudís Theory: (1900 theory) Freudís psychoanalytic theory states that dreams are the unconscious wish fulfillment of needs unmet during waking states. Freud believed that dreams often involve a combination of early childhood experiences and daily residue. He stressed that dreams have rich, symbolic content and distinguished between a dreamís manifest content and latent content. Researchers have found it extremely difficult to devise appropriate methods to even attempt to verify Freudís dream theory.


††††††††† *Manifest Content: The dreamís surface content, which contains dream symbols that distort and disagree with the dreamís true meaning.


††††††††† *Latent Content: The dreamís hidden content, its unconscious meaning.


††††††††† Cognitive Theory: Cognitive theory proposes that dreaming can best be understood by relying on the same cognitive aspects that are used in studying the waking mind.


††††††††† Activation-Synthesis: This theory states that dreams are powered by the spontaneous firing of neurons. Dreams reflect the brainís efforts to make sense out of or find meaning in the neural activity that takes place during sleep.


Do People Dream in Color?

††††††††† Virtually everyoneís dreams contain color. Colors donít have fixed meanings in dreams.

Do Animals Dream?

††††††††† It is impossible to say whether animals dream or not, although they do have periods of REM sleep.


Do Females and Males dream about different things?

††††††††† Malesí dreams have more content about males, aggression. Torso/anatomy, sexuality, and dreamer-involved success.



Why canít we remember all of our dreams?

††††††††† We canít remember them because dreaming occurs at such a low level of consciousness. We remember our dreams best when we are awakened during or just after a dream.





Hypnosis is a psychological state of altered consciousness in which the subject is usually receptive to suggestion. The history of hypnosis began with Fredrich Anton Mesmer and his belief of animal magnetism. Hypnosis involves reducing distracting stimuli and making the subject comfortable, getting the individual to concentrate and suggesting what is to be experienced in the hypnotic state. About 10 to 20 percent of the population id highly susceptible to hypnosis, about 10 percent cannot be hypnotized at all, and the remainder fall in between. People who have the ability to immerse themselves in imaginative activities are good candidates for hypnosis.


Theories of Hypnosis:


Special Theory Process: Hilgard proposed the special theory process, which states that hypnotic behavior involves a special cognitive state that is different than non-hypnotic behavior. Hypnotic responses are involuntary and involve a hidden observer.


Nonstate Theory: According to the nonstate theory, individuals who become hypnotized are under the social influence of the hypnotist. They are carrying the social role a being a good hypnotic subject and letting the hypnotist direct their imaginative thinking.


Applications: Hypnosis has been widely applied, with mixed results, to a variety of circumstances, including psychotherapy, medicine, dentistry, criminal trials and sports.



Psychoactive Drugs


††††††††† Psychoactive drugs act on the central nervous system to alter states of consciousness, modify perceptions and alter mood. They have been used since the beginning of recorded history for pleasure, utility, curiosity and social reasons. Tolerance means that a greater amount of a drug is needed to produce the same effect.Physical dependence is the physical need for the drug that is accompanied by unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued. Psychological dependence is the strong desire and craving to repeat the use of a drug for various emotional reasons, such as a feeling of well being and reduction of stress the drug produces.


Types of Drugs


††††††††† Depressants: Depressants are psychoactive drugs that slow down mental and physical activity. They include alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers and opiates. Alcohol is the most widely used drug in America and the third leading killer. Special concerns are the high use of alcohol by adolescents and college students. Alcoholism is a disorder that involves long-term repeated, uncontrolled, compulsive and excessive use of alcoholic beverages that impairs the drinkerís health and social relationships. Both nature and nurture are involved in alcoholism. Barbiturates are depressant drugs that are used medically to induce sleep. Tranquillizers are depressant drugs that reduce anxiety and induce relaxation.Opiates, which consist of opium and its derivatives, depress the central nervous systemís activity. The most common opiate drugs are morphine and heroin.


††††††††† Stimulants: Stimulants are psychoactive drugs that increase the central nervous system activity. The most widely used stimulants are caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines and cocaine. Cocaine provides a euphoric rush that is followed by depression, lethargy, insomnia and irribility. Cocaine can even trigger a heart attack, stroke or brain seizure. Crack is an intensified form of cocaine and is believed to be one of the most addictive drugs. Treatments for cocaine addiction have not been very successful. Caffeine is a stimulant and might be the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. A special concern is caffeiism, an overindulgence that is associated with a variety of psychological and physical problems.


††††††††† Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens modify perceptual experiences and produce visual images that are not real. Marijuana and LSD are hallucinogens. Marijuana produces a mixture of excitatory, depressive and mildly hallucinatory psychological affects. LSD is much stronger. Both drugs have increased in the 1990s.



Addiction is a pattern of behavior characterized by an overwhelming involvement with using a drug and securing its supply.


Prevention and Treatment:

Three forms of Prevention and treatment are primary, secondary and tertiary. Successful drug abuse programs for children and youth have two significant components: (1) intensive individualized attention and (2) community wide, multiagency collaboration. Analysis of treatment programs for alcoholics over the short term show some positive results but over the long term reveal that no one treatment program is better than others and that no one treatment is superior to no treatment at all. About one-third of alcoholics recover with no treatment.