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States of consciousness

Traditionally consciousness has been regarded as a private world, accessible mainly through introspective, however consciousness is now considered both subjective and objective.

Selective consciousness refers to our personal experience of the world – that is, the way things seem to us. Another aspect of subjective consciousness is awareness of self. Without self-awareness we could not deal effectively with the world.

Objective consciousness includes aspect of consciousness that can be verified by others.

Natural states of consciousness include daydreams, reverie, and hypnogogic and hypnopompic images. Sleep is a radically altered state of consciousness in which the body selectively monitors the environment. The sleep cycle contains two major sleep states; REM and NREM sleep. Sleep may have both evolutionary and restorative functions.

  • Altered states of consciousness include:
  • Meditation – which can produce relaxation or heightened spirituality, refocuses attention to enter inner consciousness.
  • Hypnosis – hypnotized people are highly suggestible and may respond with altered perception, memories or voluntary actions after hypnosis.
  • Psychoactive drugs alter consciousness by interacting with the central nervous system to change mood, perception and behavior.
  • Marijuana seems to enhance sensory stimuli.
  • Stimulants (nicotine, caffeine and cocaine) increase alertness and speed reaction time.
  • Hallucinogens such as PCP and LSD.


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