Contents | Feedback | Search

DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library

The Psychedelic Library | Book Menu | Table of Contents

  States of Consciousness

    Charles T. Tart

        2.   The Components of Consciousness: Awareness, Energy, Structures

People use the phrase states of consciousness to describe unusual alterations in the way consciousness functions. In this chapter we consider some of the experiences people use to judge what states they are in, in order to illustrate the complexity of experience. We then consider what basic concepts or components we need to make sense out of this variety of experiences.
    I have often begun a lecture on states of consciousness by asking the audience the following question: "Is there anyone here right now who seriously believes that what you are experiencing, in this room, at this moment, may be something you are just dreaming? I don't mean picky, philosophical doubts about the ultimate nature of experience or anything like that. I'm asking whether anyone in any seriously practical way thinks this might be a dream you're experiencing now, rather than you ordinary state of consciousness?" How do you, dear reader, know that you are actually reading this book now, rather than just dreaming about it? Think about it before going on.
    I have asked this question of many audiences, and I have only occasionally seen a hand go up. No one has stuck to defending this position. If you take this question to mean, "How do you know you're not dreaming now?" you probably take a quick internal scan of the content and quality of your experience and find that some specific elements of it, as well as the overall pattern of your experience, match those qualities you have come to associate with your ordinary waking consciousness, but do not match the qualities you have come to associate with being in a dreaming state of consciousness.
    I ask this question in order to remind the reader of a basic datum underlying my approach to consciousness—that a person sometimes scans the pattern of his ongoing experience and classifies it as being one or another state of consciousness.
    Many people make distinctions among only a few states of consciousness, since they experience only a few. Everyone, for example, probably distinguishes between his ordinary waking state, dreaming, and dreamless sleep. Some others may distinguish drunkenness as a fourth state of consciousness. Still others who have personally experimented with altered states may want to distinguish among drug-induced, meditative, and emotion-induced states.
    Without yet attempting to define consciousness or states of consciousness more precisely, suppose we ask people who have personally experienced many states of consciousness how they make these distinctions. What do they look for in their experience that alerts them to the fact that they are in a different state of consciousness from their ordinary one? A few years ago I asked a group of graduate students who had had fairly wide experience with altered states, "What sorts of things in yourself do you check on if you want to decide what state of consciousness you're in at a given moment?" Table 2-1 presents a categorization of the kinds of answers they gave, a categorization in terms of the systems approach I am explaining as we go along. A wide variety of unusual experiences in perceptions of the world or of oneself, of changes in time, emotion, memory, sense of identity, cognitive processes, perception of the world, use of the body (motor output), and interaction with the world were mentioned.
    If we ignore the categorization of the experiences listed in Table 2-1, we have an illustration of the current state of knowledge about states of consciousness—that people experience a wide variety of unusual things. While the experiencers imply that there are meaningful patterns in their experiences that they cluster together as "states," our current scientific knowledge about how his wide variety of things goes together is poor. to understand people's experiences in this area more adequately we must develop conceptual frameworks, theoretical tools, that make sense out of the experiences in some more basic way and that still remain reasonably true to the experiences as reported.
    We can now begin to look at a conceptual framework that I have been developing for several years about the nature of consciousness, and particularly about the nature of states of consciousness. Although what we loosely call altered states of consciousness are often vitally important in determining human values and behavior, and although we are in the midst of a cultural evolution (or decay, depending on your values) in which experiences from altered states of consciousness play an important part, our scientific knowledge of this area is still sparse. We have a few relationships, a small-scale theory here and there, but mainly assorted and unrelated observations and ideas. My systems approach attempts to give an overall picture of this area to guide future research in a useful fashion.
    I call this framework for studying consciousness a systems approach because I take the position that consciousness, as we know it, is not a group of isolated psychological functions but a system—an interacting, dynamic configuration of psychological components that performs various functions in greatly changing environments. While knowledge of the nature of the components is useful, to understand fully any system we must also consider the environments with which it deals and the goals of its functioning. So in trying to understand human consciousness, we must get the feel of the whole system as it operates in its world, not just study isolated parts of it.
    I emphasize a psychological approach to states of consciousness because that is the approach I know best, and I believe it is adequate for building a comprehensive science of consciousness. but because the approach deals with systems, it can be easily translated into behavioral or neurophysiological terms.
    Let us now look at the basic elements of this systems approach, the basic postulates about what lies behind the phenomenal manifestations of experience. In the following chapters we will put these basic elements of awareness, energy, and structure together into the systems we call states of consciousness.


Awareness and Energy

    We begin with a concept of some kind of basic awareness—an ability to know or sense or cognize or recognize that something is happening. This is a basic theoretical and experiential given. We do not know scientifically what its ultimate nature is,[1] but it is where we start from. I call this concept attention/awareness, to relate it to another basic given, which is that we have some ability to direct this awareness from one thing to another.
    This basic attention/awareness is something we can both conceptualize and (to some extent) experience as distinct from the particular content of awareness at any time. I am aware of a plant beside me at this moment of writing and if I turn my head I am aware of a chair. The function of basic awareness remains in spite of various changes in its content.
    A second basic theoretical and experiential given is the existence, at times, of an awareness of being aware, self-awareness. The degree of self-awareness varies from moment to moment. At one extreme, I can be very aware that at this moment I am aware that I am looking at the plant beside me. At the other extreme, I may be totally involved in looking at the plant, but not be aware of being aware of it. There is an experiential continuum at one end of which attention/awareness and the particular content of awareness are essentially merged,[2] and at the other end of which awareness of being aware exists in addition to the particular content of the awareness. In between are mixtures: at this moment of writing I am groping for clarity of the concept I want to express and trying out various phrases to see if they adequately express it. In low-intensity flashes, I have some awareness of what I am doing, but most of the time I am absorbed in this particular thought process. The lower end of the self-awareness continuum, relatively total absorption, is probably where we spend most of our lives, even though we like to credit ourselves with high self-awareness.
    The relative rarity of self-awareness is a major contributor to neurotic qualities of behavior and to the classification of ordinary consciousness as illusion or waking dreaming by many spiritual systems, an idea explored in Chapter 19. The higher end of the continuum of self-awareness comes to us even more rarely, although it may be sought deliberately in certain kinds of meditative practices, such as the Buddhist vipassana meditation discussed in Chapter 7.
    The ultimate degree of self-awareness, of separation of attention/awareness from content, that is possible in any final sense varies with one's theoretical position about the ultimate nature of the mind. If one adopts the conventional view that mental activity is a product of brain functioning, thus totally controlled by the electrical-structural activity of brain functioning, there is a definite limit to how far awareness can back off form particular content, since that awareness is a product of the structure and content of the individual brain. This is a psychological manifestation of the physical principle of relativity, discussed in Chapter 18. Although the feeling of being aware can have an objective quality, this conventional position holds that the objectivity is only relative, for the very function of awareness itself stems from and is shaped by the brain activity it is attempting to be aware of.
    A more radical view, common to the spiritual psychologies {128}, is that basic awareness is not just a property of the brain, but is (at least partially) something from outside the workings of the brain. Insofar as this is true, it is conceivable that most or all content associated with brain processes could potentially be stood back from so that the degree of separation between content and attention/awareness, the degree of self-awareness, is potentially much higher than in the conservative view.
    Whichever ultimate view one takes, the psychologically important concept for studying consciousness is that the degree of experienced separation of attention/awareness from content varies considerably from moment to moment.
    Attention/awareness can be volitionally directed to some extent. If I ask you to become aware of the sensations in your left knee now, you can do so. but few would claim anything like total ability to direct attention. If you are being burned by a flame, it is generally impossible to direct your attention/awareness to something else and not notice the pain at all, although this can be done by a few people in the ordinary d-SoC and by many more people in certain states of consciousness. Like the degree of separation of attention/awareness from content, the degree to which we can volitionally direct our attention/awareness also varies. Sometimes we can easily direct our thoughts according to a predetermined plan; at other times our minds wander with no regard at all for our plans.
    Stimuli and structures attract or capture attention/awareness. When you are walking down the street, the sound and sight of an accident and a crowd suddenly gathering attract your attention to the incident. This attractive pull of stimuli and activated structures may outweigh volitional attempts to deploy attention/awareness elsewhere. For example, you worry over and over about a particular problem and are told that you are wasting energy by going around in circles and should direct your attention elsewhere. but, in spite of your desire to do so, you may find it almost impossible.
    The ease with which particular kinds of structures and contents capture attention/awareness varies with the state of consciousness and the personality structure of the individual. For example, things that are highly valued or are highly threatening capture attention much more easily than things that bore us. Indeed, we can partially define personality as those structures that habitually capture a person's attention/awareness. In some states of consciousness, attention/awareness is more forcibly captivated by stimuli than in others.
    Attention/awareness constitutes the major energy of the mind, as we usually experience it. Energy is here used in its most abstract sense—the ability to do work, to make something happen. Attention/awareness is energy (1) in the sense that structures having no effect on consciousness at a given time can be activated if attended to; (2) in the sense that structures may draw attention/awareness energy automatically, habitually, as a function of personality structure, thus keeping a kind of low-level, automated attention in them all the time (these are our long-term desires, concerns, phobias, blindnesses); and (3) in the sense that attention/awareness energy may inhibit particular structures from functioning. The selective redistribution of attention/awareness energy to desired ends is a key aspect of innumerable systems that have been developed to control the mind.
    The concept of psychological energy is usually looked upon with disfavor by psychologists because it is difficult to define clearly. Yet various kinds of psychological energies are direct experiential realities. I am, for example, full of energy for writing at this moment. When interrupted a minute ago, I resented having to divert this energy from writing to dealing with a different issue. Last night I was tired; I felt little energy available to do what I wished to do. Those who prefer to give priority to observations about the body and nervous system in their thinking would tell me that various chemicals in my bloodstream were responsible for these varied feelings. But "chemicals in my bloodstream" is a very intellectual, abstract concept to me, while the feelings of energy and of tiredness are direct experiences for me and most other people. So we must consider psychological energy in order to keep our theorizing close to experience.
    I cannot deal in any detail with psychological energy at this stage of development of the systems approach, for we know little about it. Clearly, changing the focus of attention (as in trying to sense what is happening in your left knee) has effects: it starts, stops, and alters psychological processes. Also, attention/awareness is not the only form of psychological energy. Emotions, for example, constitute a very important kind of energy, different in quality from simple attention/awareness shifts, but interacting with attention/awareness as an energy. So while this book deals concept of psychological energy is much more complex and is one of the major areas to be developed in the future.
    Note that the total amount of attention/awareness energy available to a person varies from time to time, but there may be some fixed upper limit on it for a particular day or other time period. Some days, we simply cannot concentrate well no matter how much we desire it; other days we seem able to focus clearly, to use lots of attention to accomplish things. We talk about exhausting our ability to pay attention, and it may be that the total amount of attention/awareness energy available is fixed for various time periods under ordinary conditions.



    The mind, from which consciousness arises, consists of myriad structures. A psychological structure refers to a relatively stable organization of component parts that perform one or more related psychological functions.
    We infer (from outside) the existence of a particular structure by observing that a certain kind of input information reliably results in specific transformed output information under typical conditions. For example, we ask someone, "How much is fourteen divided by seven?" and he answers, "Two." After repeating this process, with variations, we infer the existence of a special structure or related set of structures we can call arithmetical skills. Experientially, we infer (from inside) the existence of a particular structure when, given certain classes experienced input information, we experience certain transformed classes of output/response information. Thus, when I overhear the question about fourteen divided by seven and observe that some part of me automatically responds with the correct answer, I infer an arithmetical skills structure as part of my own mind.
    We hypothesize that structures generally continue to exist even when they are not active, since they operate again when appropriate activating information is present. I again know that fourteen divided by seven equals two, even though I stopped thinking about it for a while.
    The emphasis here is on the structure forming something that has a recognizable shape, pattern, function, and process that endure over time. Ordinarily we are interested in the structure's overall properties as a complete structure, as a structured system, rather than in the workings of its component parts. Insofar as any structure can be broken down into substructures and sub-substructures, finer analyses are possible ad infinitum. The arithmetical skill structure can be broken down into adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing substructures. Such microscopic analyses, however, may not always be relevant to an understanding of the properties of the overall system, such as the state of consciousness, that one is working with. the most obvious thing that characterizes an automobile as a system is its ability to move passengers along roads at high speed; a metallurgical analyses of its spark plugs is not relevant to an understanding of its primary functioning and nature. Our concern, then, is with the psychological structures that show functions useful to our understanding of consciousness. Such structures can be given names—sexual needs, social coping mechanisms, language abilities.
    Note that some structures may be so complex that we are unable to recognize them as structures. We see only component parts and never understand how they all work together.
    A psychological structure may vary in the intensity and/or the quality of its activity, both overall and in terms of its component parts, but still retain its basic patterns (gestalt qualities) and so remain recognizably the same. A car is usefully referred to as a car whether it is moving at five or twenty-five miles an hour, whether it is red or blue, whether the original spark plugs have been replaced by spark plugs of a different brand. We anticipate an understanding of a state of consciousness as a system here.
    Some structures are essentially permanent. The important aspects of their functioning cannot be modified in any significant way; they are biological/physiological givens. They are the hardware of our mental system. To use an analogy from computer programming, they are fixed programs, functions built into the machinery of the nervous system.
    Some structures are mainly or totally given by an individual's particular developmental history; they are created by, programmed by, learning, conditioning, and enculturation processes that the individual undergoes. This is the software of the human biocomputer. Because of the immense programmability of human beings, most of the structures that interest us, that we consider particularly human, are in this software category.
    Permanent structures create limits on, and add qualities to, what can be done with programmable structures: the hardware puts some constraints on what the software can be. The physiological parameters constituting a human being place some limits on his particular mental experience and his possible range of programming.
    Our interest in relatively permanent structures,[3] one that are around long enough for us conveniently to observe, experience and study. But all the theoretical ideas in this book should be applicable to structures that are not long-lasting, even though investigation may be more difficult.
    Structure, for the outside investigator, are hypothesized explanatory entities based on experiential, behavioral, or psychological data. They are also hypothesized explanatory concepts for each of us in looking at his own experience: I know that fourteen divided by two equals seven, but I do not experience the arithmetical skills structure directly; I only know that when I need that kind of knowledge, it appears and functions. Since I need not hold on consciously to that knowledge all the time, I readily believe or hypothesize that it is stored in some kind of structure, someplace "in" my mind.


Interaction of Structure and Attention/Awareness

    Many structures function completely independently of attention/awareness. An example is any basic physiological structure such as the kidneys. We infer their integrity and nature as structures from other kinds of data, as we have no direct awareness of their functioning.[4] Such structures do not utilize attention/awareness as energy, but use other forms of physiological/psychological activating energy. Structures that cannot be observed by attention/awareness are of incidental interest to the study of consciousness, except for their indirect influence on other structures that are accessible to conscious awareness.
    Some structures require a certain amount of attention/awareness energy in order to (1) be formed or created in the first place (software programming), (2) operate, (3) have their operation inhibited, (4) have their structure or operation modified, and/or (5) be destructured and dismantled. We call these psychological structures when it is important to distinguish them from structures in general. Many structures require attention/awareness energy for their initial formation. The attention originally required to learn arithmetical skills is an excellent example. Once the knowledge or structure we call arithmetical sills is formed, it is usually present only in inactive, latent form. An arithmetical question directs attention/awareness to that particular structure, and we experience arithmetical skills. If our original programming was not very thorough, a fairly obvious amount of attention/awareness energy is necessary to use this skill. Once the structure has become highly automated and overlearned, only a small amount of attention/awareness energy is needed to activate and run the structure. We solve basic arithmetic problems, for example, with little awareness of the process involved in so doing.
    Note that while we have distinguished attention/awareness and structure for analytical convenience and in order to be true to certain experiential data, ordinarily we deal with activated mental structures. We acquire data about structures when the structures are functioning, utilizing attention/awareness energy or other kinds of psychological energies.
    Although we postulate that attention/awareness energy is capable of activating and altering psychological structures, is the fuel that makes many structures run, our experience is that affecting the operation of structures by the volitional deployment of attention/awareness energy is not always easy. Attempts to alter a structure's operation by attending to it in certain ways may have no effect or even a contrary effect to what we wish. Attempts to stop a certain structure from operating by trying to withhold attention energy form it may fail. the reasons for this are twofold.
    First, if the structure is (at least partially operating on energy other than attention/awareness, it may no longer be possible to change it with the amount attention/awareness energy we are able to focus on it. Second, even if the structure still operates with attention/awareness energy, complete control of this energy may be beyond our conscious volition for one or both of the following reasons: (1) the energy flow through it may be so automatized and overlearned, so implicit, that we simply do not know how to affect it; and (2) the functioning structure may have vital (and often implicit or hidden) connections with our reward and punishment systems, so that there are secondary gains from the operation of the structure, despite our conscious complaints. Indeed, it seems clear that for ordinary people in ordinary states of consciousness, the amount of attention/awareness energy subject to conscious control and deployment is quite small compared with the relatively permanent investments of energy in certain basic structures composing the individual's personality and his adaptation to the consensus reality of his culture.
    Since the mount of attention/awareness energy available at any particular time has a fixed upper limit, some decrement should be found when too many structures draw on this energy simultaneously. However, if the available attention/awareness energy is greater than the total being used, simultaneous activation of several structures incurs no decrement.
    Once a structure has been formed and is operating, either in isolation or in interaction with other structures, the attention/awareness energy required for its operation can be automatically drawn on either intermittently or continuously. The personality and normal state of consciousness are operating in such a way that attention is repeatedly and automatically drawn to the particular structure. Personality can be partially defined as the set of interacting structures (traits) habitually activated by attention/awareness energy. Unless he develops the ability to deploy attention in an observational mode, the self-awareness mode, a person may not realize that his attention/awareness energy is being drawn to this structure.
    There is a fluctuating but generally large drain on attention/awareness energy at all times by the multitude of automated, interacting structures whose operation constitutes personality, the normal state of consciousness. Because the basic structures composing this are activated most of a person's waking life, he perceives this activation not as a drain on attention/awareness energy, but simply as the natural state of things. He has become habituated to it. The most important data supporting this observation come from reports of the effects of meditation, a process that in many ways is a deliberate deployment of attention/awareness from its customary structures to nonordinary structures or to maintenance of a relatively pure, detached awareness. From these kinds of experiences it can be concluded that attention/awareness energy must be used to support the ordinary state of consciousness. Don Juan expounds this view to Carlos Castaneda {12} as the rationale for certain training exercises ("not doing") designed to disrupt the habitual deployment of attention/awareness energy into channels that maintain ("doing") ordinary consensus reality. And from experiences of apparent clarity, the automatized drain of attention/awareness energy into habitually activated structures is seen by meditators as blurring the clarity of basic awareness, so that ordinary consciousness appears and dreamlike.


Interaction of Structures and Structures

    Although the interaction of one psychological structure with another structure depends on activation of both structures by attention/awareness energy, this interaction is modified by an important limitation: that individual structures have various kinds of properties that limit and control their potential range of interaction with one another. Structures are not equipotent with respect to interacting with one another, but have important individual characteristics. You cannot see with your ears.
    Information is fed into any structure in one or more way and comes out of the structure in one or more ways.[5] We can say in general that for two structures to interact (1) they must have either a direct connection between them or some connections mediated by other structures, (2) their input and output information must be in the same code so information output from one makes sense to the input for the other, (3) the output signals of one structure must not be so weak that they are below the threshold for reception by the other structure, (4) the output signals of one structure must not be so strong that they overload the input of the other structure.
    Now let us consider ways in which psychological structures may not interact. First two structures may not interact because there is no direct or mediated connection between them. I have, for example, structures involved in moving the little finger of my left hand and sensing its motion, and I have structures involved in sensing my body temperature and telling me whether I have a fever or a chill. Although I am moving my little finger vigorously now, I can get no sense of having either a fever or a chill from that action. Those two structures seem to be totally unconnected.
    Second, two structures may not interact if the codes of output and input information are incompatible. My body, for example, has learned to ride a bicycle. While I can sense that knowledge in my body, in the structure that mediates my experience of riding a bicycle when I actually am doing so, I cannot verbalize it in any adequate way. The nature of knowledge encoded in that particular structure does not code into the kind of knowledge that constitutes my verbal structures.
    Third, two structures may not interact if the output signal from one is too weak, below the threshold for affecting another. When I am angry with someone and arguing with him, there may, during the argument, be a still small voice in me telling me that I am acting foolishly, but I have little awareness of that still small voice, and it cannot affect the action of the structures involved in feeling angry and arguing.
    Fourth, two structures may not interact properly if the output signal from one overloads the other. I may be in severe pain during a medical procedure, for instance, and I know (another structure tells me) that if I could relax the pain would be lessened considerably; but the structures involved in relaxing are so overloaded by the intense pain that they cannot carry out their normal function.
    Fifth, two structures may be unable to interact properly if the action of a third structure interferes with them. An example is a neurotic defense mechanism. Suppose, for instance, your employer constantly humiliates you. Suppose also that part of your personality structure has a strong respect for authority and a belief in yourself as a very calm person who is not easily angered. Now your boss is humiliating you, but instead of feeling angry (the natural consequence of the situation), you are polite and conciliatory, and do not feel the anger. A structure of your personality has suppressed certain possible interactions between other structures (but there may well be a hidden price paid for this suppression, like ulcers).
    Now consider the case of smoother interaction between structures. Two structures may interact readily and smoothly with one another to form a composite structure, a system whose properties are additive properties of the individual structures, as well as gestalt properties unique to the combination. Or, two or more structures may interact with one another in such a way that the total system alters some of the properties of the individual structures to various degrees, producing a system with gestalt properties that are not simple additive properties of the individual structures. Unstable interactions may also occur between two or more structures that compete for energy, producing an unstable, shifting relationship in the composite system.
    All these considerations about the interactional structures apply to both hardware (biologically given) and software (culturally programmed) structures. For example, two systems may not interact for a lack of connection in the sense that their basic neural paths, built into the hardware of the human being, do not allow such interaction. Or, two software structures may not interact for lack of connection because in the enculturation, the programming of the person, the appropriate connections were simply not created.
    All the classical psychological defense mechanisms can be viewed in these system terms as ways of controlling interaction patterns among perceptions and psychological structures.
    Remember that in the real human being many structures usually interact simultaneously, with all the above-mentioned factors facilitating or inhibiting interaction to various degrees at various points in the total system formed.
    Thus while the interaction of structures is affected by the way attention/awareness energy is deployed, it is also affected by the properties of individual structures. In computer terms, we are not totally general-purpose computers, capable of being programmed in just any arbitrary fashion. We are specialized: that is our strength, weakness, and humanness.

Table 2-1

EXTEROCEPTION (sensing the external world)
    Alteration in various sensory characteristics of the perceived world—glowing lights at the edges of things, attenuation or accentuation of visual depth
INTEROCEPTION (sensing the body)
    Alteration in perceived body image---shape or size changes
    Alteration in detectable physiological parameters---accelerated or retarded heart rate, respiration rate, muscle tonus, tremor
    Perception of special bodily feelings not normally present---feelings of energy in the body, generally or specially localized, as in the spine; change in quality of energy flow in the body, such as intensity, focus vs. diffuseness
INPUT-PROCESSING (seeing meaningful stimuli)
    Sensory excitement, involvement, sensuality
    Enhanced or decreased sensory intensity
    Alterations of dominance-interaction hierarchies of various sensory modalities
    Illusion, hallucination, perception of patterns and things otherwise known to be unlikely to actually exist in the environment
    Alteration in emotional response to stimuli---overreacting, underreacting, not reacting, reacting in an entirely different way
    Extreme intensity of emotions
    Changes in continuity of memory over time---either an implicit feeling that continuity is present or an explicit checking of memory that shows current experience to be consistent with continuous memories leading up to the present, with gaps suggesting an altered state
    Details. Checking fine details of perceived environment (external or internal) against memories of how they should be to detect incongruities
    Unusual feeling of here-and-nowness
    Feeling of great slowing or speeding of time
    Feeling of orientation to past and/or future, regardless of relation to present
    Feeling of archetypal quality to time; atemporal experience
    Sense of unusual identity, role
    Alienation, detachment, perspective on usual identity or identities
    Alteration in rate of thought
    Alteration in quality of thought---sharpness, clarity
    Alteration of rules of logic (compared with memory of usual rules)
    Alteration in amount or quality of self-control
    Change in the active body image, the way the body feels when in motion, the proprioceptive feedback signals that guide actions
    Restlessness, tremor, partial paralysis
    Performance of unusual or impossible behaviors---incongruity of consequences resulting from behavioral outputs, either immediate or longer term
    Change in anticipation of consequences of specific behaviors---either prebehavioral or learned from observation of consequences
    Change in voice quality
    Change in feeling of degree of orientation to or contact with immediate environment
    Change in involvement with vs. detachment from environment
    Change in communications with others---incongruities or altered patterns, consensual validation or lack of it
*This category represents the combined functioning of several subsystems.



    [1] The reader may ask, "How can we study awareness or consciousness when we don't know what it basically is?" The answer is, "In the same way that physicists studied and still study gravity: they don't know what it is, but they can study what it does and how it relates to other things."(back)
    [2] Something we can only know retrospectively.(back)
    [3] I suspect that many of these relatively permanent psychological structures exist not just in the nervous system but as muscle and connective tissue sets in the body, and can be changed radically by such procedures as structural integration {54}(back)
    [4] We should be careful about a priori definitions that certain structures must be outside awareness. Data from the rapidly developing science of biofeedback, and traditional data from yoga and other spiritual disciplines, remind us that many processes long considered totally outside conscious awarenesS can be brought to conscious awareness with appropriate training.(back)
    [5] For complex structures, we should probably also distinguish among (I) inputs and outputs that we can be consciously aware of with suitable deployment of attention/awareness, (2) inputs and outputs that we cannot be consciously aware of but that we can make inferences about, and (3) inputs and outputs that are part of feedback control interconnections between structures, which we cannot be directly aware of. Further, we must allow for energy exchanges, as well as informational exchanges, between structures.(back)

Chapter 3

Contents | Feedback | Search | DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library

The Psychedelic Library | Book Menu | Table of Contents