State of Consciousness  Name: Raghav RavalCollege: Seneca CollegeProfessor: Deborah DohertySubject: Introduction to Psychology(PSY100SYA)Date:12/20/2017       AbstractThe field of psychiatryhas in the past presented its viewpoints on the topic of human behavior and itscorrelation to thinking styles. These have in turn affected humans’consciousness. This paper explores these states of consciousness, with the aidof a minimum of eight reference materials that include journals, books, andreliable web content. The research done on states of consciousness in the pasthas been comprehensive and inclusive enough, and this paper will try to harmonizethe findings on the topic as per the research materials. With the addition ofpersonal insight and opinion on the topic, the aim at the end will be todiscuss the collective ideology behind the states of consciousness and howdifferent researchers have in the past treated the topic. Though the journals,books and research findings on the topic were published in different timelines,and with people from different professions, they show a harmonized conclusionthat consciousness is something that every human being withholds.

With masteryand practice, consciousness can be manipulated or used to achieve desiredoutcomes, as seen with hypnosis. This is because these states of consciousnessvary from person to person, and depend on prevailing circumstances.      Introduction            Consciousness is defined as an awareness of one’s self,thoughts, bodily sensations, and environment. Consciousness is dependable on aperson’s brain wave patterns which determine the kind of electric activityhappening in our brains. These brain waves can be grouped into alpha, beta,theta and delta waves. Together, they affect a person’s level of consciousness.When talking about consciousness, the meaning jumps beyond the confines ofEnglish definition.

In psychology, consciousness goes beyond active awarenessand also encompasses unconsciousness and subconsciousness (Freud, 2001).  As such, consciousness is not merely asituation of the mind being on or off, but rather everything happening to ourmind. This includes memories, happenings, and altercations that are not outrightly accessible to a person’s conscious mind (Freud, 2001). The inclusion ofthe scopes of subconsciousness and unconsciousness explain the reasons why onemight indulge in certain behaviors against his or her own knowledge. Forexample, when one is traveling alone in an automobile, he may engage in awkwardbehaviors such as picking his nose, singing excessively or making funny faces.These are activities that could otherwise have not been done in public or inthe presence of a second person.  Theselapses of attention seem funny for an outsider, but they help shed light intothe realm of consciousness.

 Consciousness remains a broad subject and may attract complexdefinitions when engaging the opinion of various experts (Moss, 2012). Throughacknowledging this fact, scholars should maintain an open perspective on thetopic and critically analyze the confines of the subject of unconsciousness.Having understood what consciousness entails, the paper will proceed todemonstrate the levels of awareness and consequently, the different states ofconsciousness.  Levelsof AwarenessLowawareness            Low awareness can be defined as the perception ofsignificantly small but vital information into a person’s brain (Biswas-Diener& Teeny, 2017). During the waking time, one constantly receives andevaluates sensory information. The sensory information occurs in the form ofhundreds of sight, smell and sound signals that people perceive through theirsensory organs. Low awareness plays a major important role in eliciting reflex reactionsand obtaining information even under extreme circumstances. For example, in acrowded place, one might hear his name being called out while missing the otherimportant contents from the communicating party.

This shows that even thoughone might be unaware of different aspects of the environment, the brain stillcaptures more details than humans can decipher. Low awareness can also manifestitself in the event of picking up important cues or sensory information. Uponsuch internalization of information, the body responds even before the personperceives it. For example, the suspicion of a snake leads people into bouts ofsweating and panic, even when the actual snake is non-existent (Williams &Bargh, 2008).  In the research done byWilliams and Bargh, it was concluded that even though a person’s brain iscapable of taking in stimuli without an active consciousness, it affects theperson’s resulting thoughts and behaviors (2008).

  The phenomenon, described as priming,certifies that one’s brain prepares a certain concept and associationsdepending on the memory gotten from participating in an activity (Williams& Bargh, 2008). Low awareness is therefore characterized by invisible orminute factors that do not actively occupy a person’s day to day living; takingplace in the background. Highawareness            High awareness exhibits opposite dynamics to that of lowawareness. In this realm, things happen within one’s knowledge anddeliberation. A process of careful planning and decision-making prompts thiskind of awareness (Biswas-Diener & Teeny, 2017). Activities of highawareness take place in everyone’s daily life and in different capacities. Forexample, a student solving an algebra problem, analyzing a timetable, or anadult listening to a story with the intent of understanding the content; allengage in high awareness.

In engaging in all these activities, one is requiredto be at an elevated state of consciousness, awareness and focus, vis-à-vis theimmediate environment. A lack of high awareness in cases where needed showsthat an individual is poor at concentration, responsiveness, and coordinationof senses. People are often encouraged to master their mind’s functionality atall times in order to take control of their thoughts and actions. This kind ofawareness is referred to as mindfulness. Within mindfulness, the consequencesof one’s thoughts and actions must be considered beforehand to help mitigatenegative feedback. Through mindfulness, there is an expansion of one’sconsciousness, and one desists from engaging in activities of stereotyping,irrelevant decisions and influences (Raichle, 2015).  According to Raichle, people vary theirthinking states between low and high states. As such, the human brainalternates from periods of deliberate, willful attention to involuntary andunanticipated periods of inattentiveness (2015).

These two states are aided bythe presence of millions of neural networks in the human anatomy. To show thathuman activities are influenced by conscious, unconscious and subconsciousstates, Raichle’s research claims that when one is in a reduced state ofawareness, he or she is still under the active influence by non-consciousstimuli with regards to the environment.             Even while acknowledging the impact of subconscious ornon-conscious stimuli, higher awareness can be used to protect or mitigateagainst their effects, especially if they result in unwanted outcomes. Peopleconstantly aware of their environments are less susceptible to outsideinfluence since they hold an element of control. Approaching situations in anon-biased way can further help reduce an unconscious reaction towards aspecific thing or condition (Biswas-Diener & Teeny, 2017).

The brainnaturally withholds both higher and lower levels of awareness. The lower levelmay be difficult to control or influence and one can use the higher level toattain a certain degree of control of the brain.Statesof Consciousness            States of consciousness vary from alertness to sleep, andall that occurs in between (Tart, 2000). The levels of awareness dictate thestate of consciousness in which a person is in at a particular time.

There areapproximately four states of consciousness. They include; alertness,daydreaming, drowsiness, and sleep. These states of consciousness aredetermined by Circadian rhythm, which is the bodily cycle that occurs almostevery 24 hours. This cycle is dependent on internal and external factors (Tart.2000). The former factors include mental efforts and conditioning while thelatter factors include things such as drugs and weather conditions. The circadianrhythm varies from person to person and may change in length, depending onprevailing circumstances and bodily changes. While shifting from one state ofconsciousness to the next, an individual might not be aware of the occurrence.

However, the human brain recognizes these shifts, with the use of the neuronsin the nervous system. These neurons influence the brain wave patterns andoscillations which help in recognition and distinction of the different statesof consciousness. Of the four levels of consciousness, sleep is the mostcomplex and wide state. It consists of several sub-levels that even bordersleep disorders. Of special mentioning in the states of consciousness ishypnosis, which is used to alter consciousness. Alertness            Alertness entails being awake. Most people only perceiveconsciousness as being alert. Being alert, a person is aware of who he or sheis, and of the immediate environment.

One can focus his attention, encodeinformation in memory and engage in conversations. As such, being alertinvolves all the activities one does every day when awake. Being alert majorlyfalls under high awareness.

This is because the person involved is constantlyin control of the situation and can correctly discern the course of action totake. Daydreaming            Daydreaming is about being awake but not fully aware ofthe surroundings. In this state, one is in a relaxed mode but fails to recordnormal focus experienced when he or she is normally alert. It is characterizedby fantasies, wishes, and hopes, which an individual hope to achieve. Duringdaydreaming, a person’s focuses shifts from the outer world and concentrates onmemories, desires, and expectations. Daydreaming occurs naturally and involuntarily.However, some people can induce this state by invoking light meditation. Suchmeditation is just enough to distract a person’s mainstream awareness.

Peopletend to daydream when idle or alone, or engaging in boring or light tasks thatdo not require total mental devotion. Drowsiness            Drowsiness occurs when one is almost falling asleep orjust before waking up. It is a lesser conscious state of consciousness. Itdirectly borders sleep and one is minutely aware of the environment. Drowsinesscan be self-induced through deep meditation. Th role of both light and deepmeditation in consciousness has been found to be crucial, as attested byStevens (2017). Meditation has been in use for centuries on religious grounds,and it is gaining popularity in the secular world through recommendations gottenon the account of good health, positive emotions and decreased stress levels(Stevens, 2017). Sleep            Sleep is an important ingredient in a human being’s life.

The body can only function properly when given time to rest and recuperate fromthe day’s activities (Biswas-Diener & Teeny, 2017). Being part of acircadian rhythm, sleep is the most elaborate state of consciousness. Researchdone on sleep reveals that several activities occur in the brain and bodyduring sleep. With the use of Electroencephalographs, commonly known as EEGs,numerous studies have shown that sleep has different stages (Tart, 2000). TheEEG is an instrument that monitors brain waves and the electrical activityensuing from the brain. This is done by pacing a set of electrodes on thesubject’s scalp. Sleep is not merely an act of shutting one’s eyes. It is ashift of consciousness as indicated by the brain’s electrical activity.

In thetransition to sleep, the active Beta waves cease to function and are replacedby alpha waves which are more consistent and intense (Manoach et al., 2010).Also, these alpha waves record lower frequencies that Beta waves. While thestages of sleep might differ as per different studies, they all agree thatsleep includes stages of rapid eye movement, known as REM, or non-rapid eyemovement (NREM) (Manoach et al., 2010).

Stages of sleep            In the first stage of sleep, the brain displays both slowand fast activities, attributed to theta and beta waves. This stage is calledthe N1 symbolizing NREM (Manoach 2010). Stage two, called the N2 stage happenswhen the person falls into light sleep. During this stage, brain waves arerecorded in short bursts of electrical activities. However, at this time, thebrain activity is normally slow. Manoach claims that this stage takes upslightly more than half the total sleeping period (2010). Stage three, or theN3 takes up a quarter of the total sleep.

During this phase, delta waves aremost active, and brain muscles are seen to relax. The last stage of sleep isthe REM sleep. This is a stage of relaxed and deep sleep. It is deemed similarto wakefulness, as the brain activity at this time is similar to when one isawake; lesser brain intensity. During REM sleep, dreaming takes place. Inaddition, activities such as sleepwalking and talking take place during thislast stage of sleep.

On completion, the sleep stages recur in reverse order, upto the N1 stage (Manoach et al., 2010). Sleep patterns may vary, depending onone’s age. While older people sleep less, babies sleep more. This ration alsoapplies to the amount of REM sleep experienced.Hypnosis            Hypnosis presents an intriguing perspective onconsciousness. Defined as the induced mental state of relaxation andconcentration, hypnosis presents a case of an altered state of consciousness.

During hypnosis, mental, chemical or behavioral means are used to disrupt thenormal existence of consciousness, making one highly susceptible toinstructions and suggestions (Kihlstrom, 2003). Studies suggest that hypnosisneeds to be induced by a 3rd party, though there are cases ofauto-hypnosis. The procedure of hypnosis consists of a set of instructionsgiven by a professional to induce a state of relaxation and sleepiness.However, hypnosis does not involve sleeping.

Dating back from over 200 yearsago, hypnosis has often been a subject of debate and controversies (Kihlstrom,2003). Hypnosis is nonetheless viewed as a state of consciousness in which theparticipant loses control of his world and conforms to those of the hypnotist.The phenomenon of hypnotism is common in the field of medicine and evenreligion, where those hypnotized are mandated to undergo confessions orexperiences that help in rectifying situations they find themselves in (Posner& Rothbart, 2011). In this subject, however, different people havedifferent levels of susceptibility to hypnotism. It may be difficult to inducehypnotism in some people because they are not readily hypnotizable orsuggestible. Variantsthat Affect ConsciousnessIndiscussing states of unconsciousness, there are additional variants that induceconsciousness or lack thereof.

There are psychoactive drugs that help transitthe brain into levels of inactivity or unconsciousness (“Psychlopedia -States of Consciousness”, 2017). They include hallucinogens, stimulants,and depressants. Doctors have classified drugs into these three subcategories,in accordance with the effect they bring on the human body. Hallucinogens suchas marijuana, though widely misused as a leisure drug, can also be used formedicinal purposes. Marijuana is used to manage nausea and even the treatmentof glaucoma, an eye condition that impairs the optic nerve. Depressants such asalcohol and opium slow the body’s mental or physiological processes.

Inversely,stimulants speed the body’s mental and physiological processes. They includecaffeine and nicotine. Collectively, psychoactive drugs influence one’sprocesses and the brain’s behavior.

They can, therefore, impact on the level ofconsciousness, depending on the frequency and intensity of their use(“Psychlopedia – States of Consciousness”, 2017).Allthese states of consciousness may vary in accordance with the various researchput forth, but the framework on the topic remains definite, allowing littledeviation from the already established facts. The various materials used forthe study vary in date of publication, and this may in return influence theaccount of each of them. However, such a fact does not limit or discredit thearguments they put forth. Being a psychological topic, only a littleinformation may be utterly new or contradictory.

In addition, the report isbased on well-established research materials that have stood the test of timeto find an audience in the world of psychology.ConclusionThestudy on states of consciousness previously done has done enough to convince onthe human psychology. However, it is necessary that future studies be conductedwhile drawing references form present materials available on the topic.

Astandardized report on the stages of sleep also need be formulated to avertdebates on the correct number, as well as on the states of consciousness. As itstands though, previous research done on the topic is persuasive enough andshould form a rubric for future studies. Human beings certainly have differentstates of consciousness, and each person should work hard to master his set of emotionsand brain activities. Though some states are well beyond our control, adeliberate effort should be aimed at conglomerating whatever humans have totalcontrol over, such as when awake and alert. Daydreaming, sleepwalking and sleeptalking may be beyond our control, but a manipulation of the environment andour thoughts will at the end ensure a suppressed display of these behaviors,especially if they deter personal growth and development. All propertiesentailing human consciousness ought to be consolidated, even as scholarscontinue to research and wonder on the subjects of dreaming, hypnosis and howthe human brain functions.

             ReferencesBiswas-Diener,R., & Teeny, J. (2017). States of Consciousness. Noba.Retrieved 19 December 2017, from http://nobaproject.

com/modules/states-of-consciousnessKihlstrom,J. (2003). Hypnosis and memory. In J.F. Byrne (Ed.

), Learning and memory(2nd ed., pp. 240-242). Farmington Hills: Mi.: Macmillan Reference.Manoach,D.

, Thakkar, K., Stroynowski, E., Ely, A., McKinley, S., & Wamsley, E. etal.

(2010). Reduced overnight consolidation of procedural learning in chronicmedicated schizophrenia is related to specific sleep stages. Journal OfPsychiatric Research, 44(2), 112-120.


(2012). Revisiting states of consciousness. Psyccritiques, 57(18).http://dx.doi.

org/10.1037/a0027575Posner,M., & Rothbart, M. (2011). Brain states and hypnosis research. ConsciousnessAnd Cognition, 20(2), 325-327. http://dx.

008Psychlopedia – States of Consciousness. (2017). Psychlopedia. 19 December 2017, from,R. (2017). Meditation.

S.l.: Routledge.Tart,C. (2000). States of consciousness. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.



I'm Erica!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out