What is consciousness?
Consciousness is our awareness of our internal and external environment at any given moment in time.
Your consciousness consists of all thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions and memories that we are AWARE of at any given moment.
Define Normal Waking Consciousness
States of consciousness you experience when you are awake and aware of your thoughts, feeling and perceptions from internal events and the surrounding environment.
William James on Consciousness
James coined the phrase 'the stream of consciousness'
5 Factors of our Consciousness Experience
Attention relates to the information that you are actively processing, either consciously or even outside your consciousness, as what you are consciously aware of is often also the focus of attention.
Awareness relates to how conscious or aware you are of internal and/or external events
Continuum of Awareness
Different levels of awareness can be viewed as a Continuum of Awareness, ranging from deep unconsciousness to heightened awareness.
Selective Attention refers to the content limitations placed on how much we can focus at any given moment on one stimulus or event to the exclusion of others
Selective Inattention is avoiding attending to information that may be relevant but emotionally upsetting
Divided Attention refers to the capacity to attend to and perform two or more activities at the same time.
What are Automatic Processes?
Automatic Processes require very little awareness or little mental effort to be performed well and they generally don't interfere with other automatic or controlled processes. (i.e. require little attention and can allow you to do two things at once)
Automatic processes become procedural memories
What are Controlled Processes?
Controlled Processes require full awareness and mental effort to focus attention on the required task.
You are unable to complete another controlled process at the same time as both require full attention, and therefore will interfere with each other.
Controlled Process tasks are usually difficult or unfamiliar.
Attention and Processes Summary
Controlled Processes require Selective Attention
Automatic Processes enable us to have Divided Attention
What is Perception?
Perception is the process of organising sensory input and giving it meaning
What is Cognition?
Cognition is a broad term that relates to mental activities such as thinking, problem solving, language and reasoning.
During NWC, we have a sense of reality; our thoughts are rational, clear and meaningful.
During NWC, we are generally aware of our feelings and show a range of emotions that are normal for us and appropriate for the situation.
Consciousness allows us to direct our thinking and monitor our impulses and behaviours
During NWC, we usually have a good awareness of the passage of time
What is and Altered State of Consciousness?
If we deviate from the normal baseline, we experience an Altered State of Consciousness (ASC).
- Level of Awareness: Increased or Decreased
- Content Limitations: Altered ability to pay attention
- Controlled and Automatic Processes: Difficulty performing particular tasks
- Perceptual and Cognitive Distortions: Altered Perception of reality (i.e. vision, hearing, touch, taste etc...)
- Emotional Awareness: Altered or even uncontrollable emotional state
- Self-Control: Ability to maintain self-control is lowered
- Time Orientation: The passage of time is altered
What is daydreaming?
Daydreaming is an altered state of consciousness where we shift our attention to our private thoughts, feelings and imagined scenarios.
- lowered level of awareness
- fewer content limitations
- difficulty performing controlled processes
- likely perceptual and cognitive distortions
- changes in emotional awareness
- changes in self-control
- diminishing time orientation
What is an Alcohol-induced State?
Psychoactive drugs are chemical substances that affect the nervous system and brain activity.
Alcohol slows or depresses the nervous system and thus alterers our state of consciousness.
States of Consciousness Summary