characteristics of altered states of consciousness

Download Characteristics of Altered States of Consciousness

Post on 22-Feb-2016




0 download

Embed Size (px)


Characteristics of Altered States of Consciousness. Characteristics of Altered States of Consciousness. Most people spend about two thirds of the day in normal waking consciousness. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Characteristics of Altered States of Consciousness

  • Characteristics of Altered States of Consciousness

    Most people spend about two thirds of the day in normal waking consciousness. When a person notices their level of mental functioning changing they are usually entering an altered state of consciousness.

  • Altered States of ConsciousnessThe term altered state of consciousness refers to any state of consciousness which is distinctively different in level of awareness and experience from NWC, in terms of level of awareness and experience, the quality and intensity of sensations, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and memories that are experienced.

    In an ASC mental processing shows distinct changes specific to that particular state.

  • Altered States of ConsciousnessSome ASCs are natural sleep & dreaming

    Others are purposely induced meditation, hypnosis, drug taking

    Humans induce ASC for relaxation, therapy, or escapism from pressures in their lives

    Common characteristics of ASCs:-Distortions of perception & cognition,-Disturbed sense of time, -Changes in emotional feeling, changes in self control

  • 1. Distortions in perception and cognitionAn ASC seems to have two effects on the senses- it either makes them more receptive or dulls them so that some sensations are not experienced at all.

    Some drugs heighten sensory experience ie, colours seem brighter, tastes and smells stronger, sounds louder or more variable, and touch more sensitive, whereas meditation can dull our experience of pain.

  • Distortions in perception

    Perceptions are often so distorted in an ASC that people may lose their sense of identity (who they are) or experience the feeling of being outside their body or someone else entirely. This can occur with the use of the drug Ketamine.

  • Ketamine & Out of body ExperiencesWhat Is Ketamine? Ketamine is an anesthetic used on both animals and humans; it also has been used in human medicine for pediatric burn cases and dentistry, and in experimental psychotherapy. It is being abused by an increasing number of young people as a "club drug," and is often distributed at "raves" and parties.

  • Distortions in CognitionThought processes are often more disorganised during a waking ASC, as well as during dreaming. In an ASC:-thinking is often illogical and lacking in sequence-difficulties may be experienced in problem-solving-people may have trouble remembering events that have occurred in an ASC. When consuming alcohol people are often unable to recall the events that occurred while intoxicated.Marijuana use can also impair short term memory and thinking.

  • Meditation & Cancer Meditation specialists believe visualisation and guided meditation can help cancer sufferers gradually remove cancer.

  • 2. Disturbed sense of timeEstimation of time is frequently distorted in an ASCTime passes at a different speed than normalEither faster Eg sleeping for 8 hours and it feels like 30 mins or vice versa

  • ThinkHave you ever seen a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs, who has shown completely different emotional responses that they normally would?

  • 3. Changes in emotional awarenessASCs can put peoples emotions into a state of turmoil resulting in uncharacteristic responsesEg. Under the influence of alcohol some people display their feelings/emotions more freely while others can become quite aggressive

  • In other ASCs people have reported feeling emotionless; that is having no feelings at all.

    In some ASCs people may have inappropriate emotional reactions. Eg. laughing at hearing the news of a friends death or crying at a joke.

  • Think!Have you ever witnessed someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs who has shown a complete lack of self control?

  • 4. Changes in self-controlChanges in our ability to maintain self-control are often evident during ASCs

    Eg. In an alcohol induced state people may have difficulty coordinating and controlling movements (stumbling).

    In a hypnotic state, some people are more open to suggestion.


  • DaydreamingDaydreaming is an ASC in which we shift our attention from external stimuli to internal, thoughts, feelings and imagined scenarios.The shift occurs naturally and usually without being aware. More likely to occur when you are stationary than when you are moving around. Different from a night dream physiologically- minimal eye movement and alpha waves present.

  • DaydreamingThere are many proposed purposes for daydreaming such as:Freud believed it was to allow us to do in our fantasies what we are unable to do in reality. Singer (1975) proposed that daydreaming enables us to mentally try out a range of courses of action that could be applied to certain situations. He also suggested it can help us to solve problems. Some suggest we daydream to stay mentally alert in situations in which there is insufficient external stimulation.

  • Alcohol-induced stateWhat is alcohol?Usually refers to drinks such as beer, wine or spirits containing ethyl alcohol- a substance that can cause drunkenness and changes in consciousness, mood and emotions. Ethyl alcohol requires no digestion and seeps into the bloodstream via the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Alcohol is considered a psychoactive drug. These are chemicals that change conscious awareness, perception or moods.Alcohol is also classified as a depressant meaning that although it initially produces a mild euphoria, it lessons our inhibitions and depresses the activity of the brain centers. Effects depend on the concentration of alcohol consumed, the amount, and variables related to the individual.

  • The effects of alcohol on consciousness:a shortened attention spanimpaired perceptionsimpaired thinkingimpaired memoryslower reaction timesreduced self-awarenessimpaired emotional awarenessimpaired perception of timeless self-controldifficulty with voluntary muscle control and fine movementsdeterioration in performance of complex tasksTable 2.4 pg 120

  • Practising meditationThe experience of pain is less intense and meditation can provide relief from pain in some cases. Brainwaves experienced in meditation are similar to those people experience when falling asleep or when they are actually asleep.

  • Meditative stateMany forms such as yoga, Zen and transcendental meditation each of which has its basis in Eastern religion like Buddhism and Hinduism.Meditation involves the use of a technique to deliberately alter NWC in order to induce an ASC characterised by a deep state of relaxation.It typically involves altering the normal flow of conscious thoughts by focusing on a simple stimulus like breathing or a body part.

  • Measuring states of consciousness

    Can you think of how we measure states of consciousness?

  • Measuring physiological responses of consciousnessA state of consciousness cannot be measured directly like physical characteristics.

    It is because of this that it is called a psychological construct.

    A psychological construct is a concept used to describe something that is believed to exist, but that cannot be directly observed or measured.

  • Measuring states of consciousness1. Self-report: limited because subjective: individuals may-be dishonest, struggle to articulate, forget details

    2. Behavioural observations: limited because cant observe inside the body

  • Measuring states of consciousness

    SO! Psychologists usually rely on measuring

    3. Physiological responses: Useful as objective. Limited: may indicate illness or multiple ASCsHeart rate: ASC usually , e.g. sleep; can , e.g. stimulant drugsGSR: positive correlation with arousal Body temperature: drops ~1C during sleep, high temps (e.g. fever) can induce ASCEEG: electrical activity within the brain is graphed

  • 1. EEG

  • Electrical Activity of the BrainBrain wave patterns form EEG readings. Vary in: Frequency brainwaves per second Amplitude size of the peaks and troughsHigh Frequency Low Amplitude

  • Electrical Activity of the Brain

    The size and number of brain waves change with different states of consciousness:

    Normal waking consciousness Beta waves: High frequency, Low amplitude (Ie. Lots of waves but not very high)

    Extremely relaxed Alpha waves: High Frequency, Larger amplitude

    Early stages of sleep Theta waves: Medium frequency, Some high amplitude

    Deep Sleep Delta waves: Low Frequency, High amplitude

  • Remember!B (wide awake)ATD (fast asleep)

  • Remember!

    Beta: Busy Brain awake & alertAlpha: Almost Asleep restingTheta: Theyre asleepDelta: Deep Sleep also know as slow wave sleep

  • Brain Waves Patterns

  • 2. Heart RateMay increase or decrease in an ASC.

    While a person is asleep, unconscious or meditating, heart rate is likely to decrease.

    When a person is experiencing ASCs associated with the use of substances that are stimulants, heart rate is likely to increase.

  • 3. Body TemperatureBody temperature is less variable than heart rate; however there is a general pattern indicating changes in body temperature in altered states.

    The most obvious change is during sleep; body temperature drops by more than 1C while asleep.

  • 4. Galvanic Skin ResponseThe theory is that; the more relaxed you are the dryer your skin is and so the higher the skins electrical resistance. When you are under stress your hand sweats and then the resistance goes down.

  • 3. Galvanic Skin ResponseThe galva


View more >