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States of Consciousness


  • brainConsciousness: All the sensations, perceptions, memories, and feelings you are aware of in any instant
  • Waking Consciousness: Normal, clear, organized, alert awareness
  • Altered State of Consciousness (ASC): Awarenessthat is distinctly different in quality or pattern from waking consciousness


  • The Psychological Approach is understanding behavior in terms of psychological events, are different states of consciousness due to psychological events??
  • The Cognitive Approach emphasizes that people differ from each other because individual perceptions and thought processes are different, WHICH WILL CONTRIBUTE TO DIFFERENT STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS.



  • Definition: Innate, biological rhythm essential for survival, Sleep is a natural state of consciousness, when we are less aware of our surroundings.
  • Sleep Deprivation: Sleep loss; being deprived of needed amounts of sleep
  • Sleep-Deprivation Psychosis: Major disruption that occurs because of sleep loss

Changing patterns of brain-wave activity help define the various stages of sleep.

Sleep Progresses Through Four Stages

Brain waves become slower as sleep deepens from Stage 1 through Stage 4.

REM Sleep:

Characterized by rapid eye movements (REM), high arousal, frequent dreaming.


  • Insomnia: Difficulty in getting to sleep or staying asleep, or waking early
  • Drug-Dependency Insomnia: Sleeplessness that follows withdrawal from sleeping pills
  • Sleepwalking: Occurs in NREM sleep during Stages 3 and 4
  • Sleeptalking: Speaking while asleep; occurs in NREM sleep
  • Night Terrors: Total panic and hallucinations may occur


  • Sleep Apnea: Interrupted breathing during sleep; cause of very loud snoring

–Hypersomnia: Extreme daytime sleepiness

–Apnea can be treated by

  • Surgery
  • Weight loss
  • Breathing mask
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS; Crib Death): Sudden, unexplained death of healthy infant (infants should sleep on back or on side to try to prevent)


Hypnosis:  A state of heightened suggestibility in which some people are able to experience imagined situations as if they were real.

Dissociation Theories of Hypnosis

  • Viewing hypnosis as an altered state involving a division (dissociation) of consciousness.

Social-Cognitive Theories of Hypnosis

  • Hypnotic experiences result from expectations of people who are motivated to take on the role of being hypnotized.


  • Altered state of consciousness characterized by intensely narrowed attention and increased openness to suggestion
  • Hypnotic Susceptibility: How easily a person can be hypnotized
  • Basic Suggestion Effect: Tendency of hypnotized people to carry out suggested actions as though they were involuntary


Hypnosis Can’s and Cannot’s:


Hypnosis CAN

Help people relax

Reduce pain

Get people to make better progress in therapy

Hypnosis CANNOT

Produce acts of superhuman strength

Produce age regression

Force you to do things against your will



  • Mental exercise designed to produce relaxation or heightened awareness


  • Concentrative Meditation: Attention is paid to a single focal point (i.e., object, thought, etc.)


–Produces relaxation response and thus works to reduce stress

  • Receptive Meditation: Based on widening attention span to become aware of everything experienced at a given moment
  • Mantra: Word(s) or sound(s) repeated silently during concentrative meditation
  • Relaxation Response: Occurs at time of relaxation; internal response that prevents activation of adrenal glands


Drugs and Altered States of Consciousness:

  • Physical Dependence: Addiction based on drug tolerance and withdrawal symptoms

Drug Tolerance: Reduction in body’s response to a drug

Withdrawal Symptoms: Physical illness following withdrawal of the drug

  • Psychological Dependence: Drug dependence based on psychological or emotional needs

Usually crave drug

Can be as powerful as physiological addiction

  • Psychoactive Drug: Substance capable of altering attention, judgment, memory, time sense, self-control, emotion, or perception
  • Stimulant: Substance that increases activity in body and nervous system
  • Depressant: Substance that decreases activity in body and nervous system
  • Ethyl Alcohol: Intoxicating element in fermented and distilled liquors

NOT a stimulant but DOES lower inhibitions


  • Binge Drinking: The dangerous consumption of five or more drinks in a short time; four or more for women





Bernstein, D.A. & Nash, P.W. (2008). Essentials of psychology (4th ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Feldman, R. (2013). Essentials of understanding psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W. (2012), Personality: classic theories and modern research (5th ed). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
McGraw-Hill.McGraw Hill Higher Education (2013), The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.
Ryckman, R. M. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

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