Home » States of Consciousness

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.


  1. Melissa Morillo says:

    read and understood that is a the stage of REM.


  2. Clarisse Noubissi Tchemwe says:

    professor i would to know if meditation can help to have a good sleep?


  3. Clarisse Noubissi Tchemwe says:

    read and understood that is a the stage of REM that people have a dream


  4. Khaled Roch says:

    read and understood
    in which state are you when the EEG measure more than 30hz?


  5. sherryrem26 says:

    Read and understood very little.


  6. eguerrieo says:

    read and understand


  7. hfisk801 says:

    Read and understood


  8. Yasmin says:

    Read and understood


  9. Sayomi says:

    Read and understood


  10. kdhernandez11 says:

    read and understood.


  11. Anthony Mansi says:

    Read it and kind of understood , the last video of the brain waves and different stages of consciousness was interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Kiana Jeanniton says:

    Read and understood!!


  13. Xavier Savage says:

    Read and Understood, I was really interested in the different levels of consciousness and that Sleep is considered a form of consciousness. Something that also intrigued me was that although Hypnosis can be helpful, we cant use it to awaken more parts of the brain to catalyze a “Superhuman” state.


  14. Lara says:

    Read and understood. Very interesting to find out how these all work!


  15. Stevy says:

    Read and understood


  16. Tristan Hope says:

    Read and understood , interesting how the brain can be effected due to lack of sleep .


  17. Calvin Cannon says:

    Read and understood. Very interesting learning about the brain waves and how they are connected to the different levels of consciousness mentioned in the video.


  18. Kamilla DeFreitas says:

    read and understood! very interesting!!


  19. cnoubiss says:

    Read and understand


  20. tatiana walker says:

    read and understood!


  21. jose osorio says:

    read it somewhat understand


  22. Cindy Victor says:

    I read it more than 2 times and i understood the beginning of it then i got confuse at the drugs and altered state of consciousness. Then i watched the video about consciousness and i was even more confused when i heard about Alpha/Beta and Theta waves. Excited to get more explanation later

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Lydia Li says:

    Read and somewhat understood

    Liked by 1 person

  24. lillyanamayo says:

    Read and somewhat understood the basics. I found this very interesting and I cannot wait to learn more next class!

    Liked by 1 person


    Very interesting. Our brain is incredible! looking forward to learning more.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. fernando l sousa says:

    read and understood


  27. Navy says:

    Read and understood


  28. Olivia Filipowich says:

    Read and Understood


  29. Debbie Ross says:

    Read and understood


  30. JingRen says:

    Read and mostly understood

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Harman Singh says:

    read and understood

    Liked by 1 person

  32. dezgoncalves says:

    I found this essay to be very informative and understood it!


  33. Kumar21 says:

    read and understood


  34. nakarig03 says:

    Read/ Watched this was amazing looking forward to class this evening can’t wait to learn more.. But the second video didn’t play for me due to copy write it said.


  35. David Name Leon says:

    read and understood


  36. David Name Leon says:

    read and understand


  37. ojune4 says:

    read and mostly understood!


  38. philgdasilva says:

    read and understood!


  39. sanunez27 says:

    Read and understand


  40. hibaeva says:

    Read cant wait for you to explain the subject more in detail, it is definitely interesting, understood some of it and I’m sure when you explain it will make more sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. aymarasoto says:

    Very interesting, looking forward to learn more in class.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. yu012117 says:

    Read/watched and understood! interesting topic!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Avery Ross Burkhardt says:

    Read and understood

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Christian Santos says:

    Read and understood! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Nigus Mebratu says:

    read and understand some part

    Liked by 1 person

  46. jz255425 says:

    While reading, I learned so much on the topic of consciousness. For the longest time, I kind of thought hypnotizing people to do what you want was real. Except it can’t but it can reduce pain and help people relax. There were a couple of states of consciousness I learned about in the video and I did not know that we had different brainwaves for each state. After reading the meditation section, I really should think about trying it out as it causes relaxation and heightens awareness.


  47. knguyen21 says:

    I was very interested to know about these different states of consciousness, and also realized that we never really know the exact time we sleep, it just kind of happens without us knowing, and that is what happens with all these other states of consciousness where you can switch without even noticing. However after watching the video, I can now admit that I have gone through all these stages, besides sleep, during psychology class, sorry. I still grow curious to learn about what happens during sleep, not just about dreams and about our body but everything that occurs to us during that state, because although it is a state of unconsciousness, there are different stages to it which I want to learn more about.


  48. HANSON MEI says:

    I was very intrigued while learning about the different stages that humans go through in our sleep. I had not know that we had different brain wave speeds and different types of waves. Who would have that that so much happens when we sleep, I plan on learning more and more on this topic as I enjoy learning about how a human works!


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