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Chapter: Psychology: Consciousness

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Varieties of Consciousness

Sleep • Hypnosis • Religious States • Drug-Induced Changes in Consciousness

VARIETIES OF CONSCIOUSNESS

The workspace hypothesis, it seems, helps us understand some of the variations in conscious experience. In particular, it explains why we aren’t conscious (despite considerable brain activity) during sleep, and likewise why an anesthetized patient isn’t conscious. But sleep and anesthesia are just two of the ways our conscious state varies. It’s often alleged that hypnosis also creates an altered state of consciousness, and that various religious practices can as well. Many drugs—including several drugs taken for recreational purposes—also change a person’s conscious state. Let’s take a closer look at these variations in conscious experience, starting with the variation that every person experiences virtually every day: the contrast between being asleep and awake.


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