Altered state of consciousness: Wikis


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An altered state of consciousness, (ASC)[1], also named altered state of mind, is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking beta wave state. The expression was used as early as 1969 by Charles Tart[2][3] and describes induced changes in one's mental state, almost always temporary. A synonymous phrase is "altered states of awareness".

It can be associated with artistic creativity.[4]




An altered state of consciousness can come about accidentally through, for example, fever, infections such as meningitis,[5] sleep deprivation, fasting, oxygen deprivation, nitrogen narcosis (deep diving), psychosis[6], temporal lobe epilepsy or a traumatic accident.

After awakening from normal sleep, a person soon forgets any dream he may have experienced while asleep. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, breaks down the barrier existing between reality and hallucination. The common garden-variety hallucinations are known as "white-line fever" by the same weary truck-drivers who experience them: bushes look like animals, cracks in the road form designs, clouds form distinguishable figures, mailboxes by the road look like people standing by. "... I saw giraffes and lions. I waved to mailboxes. I even had an out-of-body experience near Tucumcari, New Mexico, where I saw myself riding on the shoulder of Interstate 40 from above."[7]


An ASC can sometimes be reached intentionally by the use of sensory deprivation, an isolation tank, sleep deprivation, lucid dreaming, or mind-control techniques, hypnosis, meditation, prayer, or disciplines (e.g. Mantra Meditation, Yoga, Sufism, dream yoga, or Surat Shabda Yoga).

It can also be attained through the ingestion of psychoactive drugs such as alcohol and opiates, or more commonly with entheogenic plants and their derivative chemicals such as LSD, DXM, 2C-I, peyote, cannabis, mescaline, Salvia divinorum, MDMA, psychedelic mushrooms, ayahuasca, or datura (Jimson weed).

Another effective way to induce an altered state of consciousness is using a variety of Neurotechnology such as psychoacoustics, binaural beats, light and sound stimulation, cranial electrotherapy stimulation, and such; these methods attempt to induce specific brainwave patterns, and a particular altered state of consciousness.[8]


Gamma: 30 - 100+ Hz

Beta: 12 – 30 Hz

Alpha: 8 – 12 Hz

Theta: 4 – 8 Hz

Delta: 0.01 – 4 Hz

See also


  1. ^ Bundzen PV, Korotkov KG, Unestahl LE (April 2002). "Altered states of consciousness: review of experimental data obtained with a multiple techniques approach". J Altern Complement Med 8 (2): 153–65. doi:10.1089/107555302317371442. PMID 12006123.  
  2. ^ Tart, Charles T. (1969). Altered states of consciousness: a book of readings. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-84560-4.  
  3. ^ Tart, Charles T. (2001). States of Consciousness. ISBN 0-595-15196-5.  
  4. ^ Lombardo GT (2007). "An inquiry into the sources of poetic vision: Part I -- the path to inspiration". J Am Acad Psychoanal Dyn Psychiatry 35 (3): 351–71. doi:10.1521/jaap.2007.35.3.351. PMID 17907906.  
  5. ^ Oill PA (July 1976). "Infectious disease emergencies. Part 1: Patients presenting with an altered state of consciousness". West. J. Med. 125 (1): 36–46. PMID 782042.  
  6. ^ Andrzej Kokoszka: States of consciousness: models for psychology and psychotherapy
  7. ^ Shermer, Michael (1997). Why people believe weird things. Macmillan. p. 89. ISBN 0805070897.  
  8. ^ Namba Walter, Mariko; Neumann Fridman, Eva Jane (2004). Shamanism. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 188. ISBN 1576076453.  

Further reading

  • Hoffman, Kay (1998). The Trance Workbook: understanding & using the power of altered states. Translated by Elfie Homann, Clive Williams, and Dr Christliebe El Mogharbel. Translation edited by Laurel Ornitz. ISBN 0-8069-1765-2
  • James, William The varieties of religious experience (1902) ISBN 0-14-039034-0
  • Roberts, T. B. (editor) (2001). Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion. San Francosco: Council on Spiritual Practices.
  • Roberts, T. B., and Hruby, P. J. (1995-2002). Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments An Entheogen Chrestomathy. Online archive. [1]
  • Roberts, T. B. "Chemical Input—Religious Output: Entheogens." Chapter 10 in Where God and Science Meet: Vol. 3: The Psychology of Religious Experience Robert McNamara (editor)(2006). Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood.
  • Wier, Dennis R. Trance: from magic to technology (1995) ISBN 1-888428-38-4

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