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  States of Consciousness

    Charles T. Tart

        8.   Subsystems

We began this discussion of the systems approach to consciousness by describing the concepts of attention/awareness, energy, and structure. We defined a structure as a basic unit that can be assembled into larger structures or be analyzed into substructures. At present, our scientific knowledge is generally too rudimentary to allow the breakdown of structures into their components. We can, however, describe the assembly of multiple structures into major experiential and experimental divisions—subsystems—of consciousness. Ten such subsystems are described in this chapter. They are convenient conceptual tools for understanding the currently known range of variations in d-ASCs. They do not refer to localized regions of the brain. They are concepts I have developed by classifying the greatly varying experiences and behaviors reported in d-ASCs into clusters of phenomena that seem to hold together, on the basis of both their own internal similarity and other known psychological data.
    In their present form, I find these subsystems a useful conceptual tool for organizing the otherwise chaotic masses of data about d-ASCs. I also believe that further thinking can sharpen our ideas about the properties of these subsystems and their possible interactions with each other and allow us to predict d-ASCs in addition to those already known. Making these predictions and testing them should further sharpen our conceptions about the nature of various subsystems, and so further increase our understanding. This is the standard scientific procedure of conceptualizing the data as well as possible, making predictions on that basis, confirming and disproving various predictions, and thus sharpening the conceptual system or modifying it. The socialized repetition of this procedure is the essence of scientific method.
    Figure 8-1 sketches ten major subsystems, represented by the labeled ovals, and their major interaction routes. The solid arrows represent major routes of information flow: not all known routes are shown, as this would clutter the diagram. The hatched arrows represent major, known feedback control routes whereby one subsystem has some control over the functioning of another subsystem. The dashed arrows represent information flow routes from the subconscious subsystem to other subsystems, routes that are inferential from the point of view of the ordinary d-SoC. Most of the subsystems are shown feeding information into, or deriving information from, awareness, which is here considered not a subsystem but the basic component of attention/awareness and attention/awareness energy that flows through various systems.
    A brief overview of a state of consciousness as a functioning system, as represented in Figure 8-1, can be described as follows. Information from the outside world comes to us through the Exteroception subsystem (classical sense organs), and information from our own bodies comes to us via the Interoception subsystem (kinesthetic and other bodily functioning receptors). Data from both sets of sense organs undergo Input-Processing (filtering, selecting, abstracting), which in turn influences the functioning of Exteroception and Interoception. Input-Processing draws heavily on stored Memory, creates new memories, sends information both directly into awareness and into our subconscious, and stimulates our Sense of Identity and our Emotions. Information we are aware of is in turn affected by our Sense of Identity and Emotions. We subject this information to Evaluation and Decision-Making; and we may act on it, produce some sort of motor output. This Motor Output subsystem produces action in the body that is sensed via Interoception, in a feedback process through the body. The Motor Output also produces effects on the external world that are again sensed by Exteroception, constituting feedback via the external world. Our perception and decision-making are also affected by our Space/Time Sense. Also shown in Figure 8-1 are some latent functions, which may be tapped in a d-ASC, but are not available in the b-SoC.
    In the following pages the basic nature of each subsystem is defined and the range of both quantitative and qualitative alterations that occur in its functioning over the range of various d-ASCs is indicated. Of necessity, these descriptions are somewhat sketchy. One of the major tasks of future research is to fill in the details about each of these subsystems, their change in d-ASCs, and their interaction with other subsystems.



    The subsystem Exteroception includes the classical sense organs for registering changes in the environment: eyes, ears, nose, taste organs, and touch organs.
    The exteroceptive organs constitute a model of a whole system of consciousness. First, they are active organs. While all of them can respond to stimulation when they are passive, as when a light is suddenly shined in your eye, they normally engage in an active scanning of the environment. Your eyes dart about; you turn your head or perk up your ears to hear sounds more clearly; you reach out to touch things that interest you. Similarly, consciousness can be passively stimulated, but ordinarily it is an active process.
    Second, each of the classical exteroceptive sense organs has limited responsiveness. The eye cannot respond to ultraviolet light, the ear cannot pick up sounds above or below certain frequencies, touch cannot respond to exceptionally subtle stimuli. Similarly, consciousness can be passively stimulated, but ordinarily it is an active process.
    Second, each of the classical exteroceptive sense organs has limited responsiveness. The eye cannot respond to ultraviolet light, the ear cannot pick up sounds above or below certain frequencies, touch cannot respond to exceptionally subtle stimuli. Similarly, any state of consciousness has certain limits to what it can and cannot react.
    Third, you have some voluntary control over the input to your exteroceptive sense organs. If you do not want to see something, you can look away or close your eyes; if you do not want to hear something, you can move away from the sound source or put your fingers in your ears. In any state of consciousness, you have some voluntary control over exteroceptive functioning. But the control is limited: if the sound is intense enough, it is difficult not to hear it at all, even with your hands over your ears.
    Although many changes in perception of the external environment are reported in d-ASCs, these usually do not represent changes in the exterocepters themselves, except possibly in some drug-induced d-ASCs. Each of the classical sense organs is a masterpiece of engineering; it is already as sensitive as it can be. Thus its useful sensitivity is not increased, even if a person experiences himself as being in more contact with the environment in a d-ASC. AS we shall see later, practically all phenomena dealing with feelings of increased contact with the environment are related to changes in the Input-Processing subsystem.
    Sometimes when a drug is used to induce a d-ASC there may be some physiological changes in the exterocepters. LSD, for example, may actually cause pupillary dilation, thus allowing in more light (although one might quarrel whether this is a direct physiological effect or a secondary effect due to the increased attention being paid to the external environment). Similarly, since psychedelic drugs affect neural functioning generally, they may have some direct effects on the neural components of the sense organs themselves, but little is known of this now. So, in terms of present knowledge about d-ASCs, changes in the exterocepters seem of little importance.
    Input to the exterocepters is usually deliberately manipulated and patterned in the course of attempting to induce a d-ASC. Although most of the important changes resulting from these techniques occur in Input-Processing, some do start with direct effects on the exterocepters and should be noted.
    Input from the environment that, while varying, remains within a learned, anticipated range, acts as a source of loading stabilization. Thus, changing the input to the exteroception may interfere with the loading stabilization function and/or inject anomalous input that may destabilize a d-SoC.
    A major way of doing this is to reduce or eliminate sensory input. In the induction process for many d-ASCs, there is an attempt to make the environment quiet, to cut down the amount of sensory input a person has to handle. Consider, for example, the techniques of guided imagery {3} or twilight imagery, where, while lying down with closed eyes, a person enters more and more into fantasy. A genuine d-ASC may develop in some cases, as fantasy intensifies, but it is clear the sensory input must usually be kept at a low level to both induce and maintain this d-ASC. I have seen people get into intense experiences through guided imagery techniques, but the simple act of opening the eyes and allowing visual input from the physical world to enter immediately disrupts this state.
    Reduction of sensory input to a level as near zero as possible is a potent technique for inducing d-ASCs. In the fifties and early sixties, there were many sensory deprivation experiments during which the subject lay comfortably in a dark, quiet room without moving. The findings were interpreted as showing that if the brain did not receive sufficient sensory input, the subject went "crazy." It is now clear {46, 55} that practically all these studies were severely contaminated, as were the contemporary studies of psychedelic drugs, by implicit demand characteristics that account for most of the phenomena produced. If you a person through a procedure he thinks will make him crazy, in a medical setting, he is likely to act crazy. That tells you something about suggestibility, but little about the effects of reduced sensory input per se. Traditional literature from many spiritual psychologies {128} as well as accounts from people who have been trapped in isolation situations, indicate that sensory deprivation can be a powerful technique in affecting consciousness. But its effect is apparently always patterned by other factors.[1]
    Changing the patterning of input to the exterocepters, and the subsequent processing of the information of Input-Processing, can also be a major way of altering consciousness. When the same kind of input is repeated over and over again, so that the exterocepters become saturated, all sorts of changes take place. For example, if, by means of special apparatus, an image is held absolutely still on the retina of the eye, it soon begins to break up and display all sorts of unusual perceptual changes. Even when we believe we are looking steadily at something, there are actually tiny saccadic movements of the eye that keep the image moving slightly on the retina. Like so many of our receptors, the eye actually responds to slight, continuous change and cannot "see" absolutely steady input.
    Overloading the exterocepters is another way of inducing d-ASCs. The principle is recognized by people who attend rock concerts. Even if they have not taken some drug to help induce a d-ASC, the light show of complex, changing patterns accompanied by exceptionally loud music overloads and fatigues the exterocepters, blowing their minds.



    The subsystem Interoception includes the various senses that tell us what is going on inside our bodies—the position of our limbs, the degree of muscle tension, how our limbs are moving, pressure in our intestines, bodily temperature. It is a way of sensing our internal world, as opposed to our external world. Many of the output signals from our interoceptors seems to be permanently excluded from our awareness; many of our sensing systems for governing the function of internal organs seem to have no representation in consciousness, regardless of conditions. For example, the functioning of our kidneys is regulated, but I know of no one who claims to have a direct experiential feel for what his kidneys are doing. We should, however, be careful about setting any ultimate limits on what aspects of Interoception can never reach or be affected by consciousness. The modern technology of biofeedback enables us to focus attention on and to control many bodily processes formerly thought to be completely incapable of voluntary control.
    Many other interoceptive signals not normally in our awareness can be put in our awareness by turning our attention/awareness to them. For example, you may not have been thinking of sensations in your belly a moment ago, but now that I mention them and your attention/awareness turns there, you can detect various signals. With practice you might become increasingly sensitive to signals from this area of your body. Thus, as with our exterocepters, we have some voluntary control over what we will attend to, but this control is limited.
    We can also control interoceptive input by doing various things to our bodies. If you have an unpleasant sensation from some part of your body, you can relax, change position, take a deep breath, and change the nature of that signal, presumably by changing whatever is causing it. This is an ability we take for granted and know little about, but it is an important way of affecting interoceptive input. Some techniques for inducing d-ASCs, such as hatha yoga procedures, have a highly sophisticated technology for affecting one's body and how one perceives it. This is the reason biofeedback technology is sometimes said to have the potential to become an "electronic yoga," a way of rapidly learning about various internal conditions and using them to affect consciousness. We are still a long way from attaining this, however.
    As is the case with exterocepters, there is little evidence that actual physiological changes take place in the interoceptors during various d-ASCs, except possibly in some drug-induced d-ASCs. Also as in Exteroception, the learned, anticipated range of constant input from Interoception acts as a source of loading stabilization for maintaining the ordinary d-SoC.
    The pattern of input from interoceptors can be subsumed under a useful psychological concept, the body image. You not only have a real body whose actual sensations are picked up by the interoceptors, but, in the course of enculturation, you have learned to perceive your own body in learned, patterned ways, just as you have learned to perceive the external world in socially learned ways. The degree to which your body image corresponds to your actual body may vary considerably. My own observations suggest that people's internal images of their bodies can differ amazingly from what an external observer sees.
    An individual's body image may be very stable. An intriguing example of this is the phantom limb phenomenon. When an arm or a leg is amputated, the patient almost always reports he can still feel the limb, even though he can see and otherwise intellectually know it is not there. Sensations coming in from the severed nerve tracts are nonconsciously organized in the learned, habitual way so that the patient perceives the limb as still there. Most patients soon lose perception of their phantom limbs as they are subjected to considerable social pressure to do so. In some, however, the phantom limb persists in spite of all attempts to unlearn it. The sensations may or may not be painful.
    The primary things to note are that the body image can be very rigid and may or may not show much correspondence to the actual body contours and what actually goes on in the body. I am convinced that as Westerners we generally have distorted images of our bodies and poor contact with sensations that go on in them. Since body sensations often represent a thinking about, or data processing of, experience, and a way of expressing emotions, our lack of contact with our actual body sensations puts us out of contact with ourselves. This is considered further in connection with the Subconscious subsystem.

    People's experiential reports from d-ASCs indicate that enormous changes can take place in Interoception. The body may seem to get larger or smaller, change in shape, change in internal functioning, change in terms of the relationships of its parts, so that the body may not "work" in the usual fashion. Most of this range of experience probably represents changes in Input-Processing, rather than changes in the interoceptors themselves.
    As with Exteroception, changing your body image is a common technique for inducing d-ASCs. Reducing interoceptive input, overloading it, or patterning it in novel ways have all been used. The primary effects are on Input-Processing, but the techniques start by affecting the interoceptors themselves. Let us look at some of these techniques briefly.
    Immobilizing the body in a relaxed position is a major way of causing the output from Interoception to fade and, consequently, causing the body image either to fade or to change, since it is no longer stabilized by actual input from the interoceptors. The discussion of the induction of hypnosis, going to sleep, and meditation in Chpater7 mentions the importance of allowing the interoceptors to adapt out so the input from the body disappears. In sensory deprivation techniques it is important to relax the body and at the same time not move at all. Even a slight movement can stimulate large numbers of interceptors and reestablish the body image readily.
    Overloading interoceptors is an important technique for altering consciousness. A good massage, for instance, or sensory awareness exercises that make you aware of bodily stimuli normally overlooked, have been known to induce d-ASCs. At the opposite end of the continuum from this pleasurable kind of manipulation of Interoception, pain and torture are some of the surest ways of inducing d-ASCs.
    Patterning interoceptive input in unusual fashions is another way of inducing d-ASCs. Mudras, gestures of symbolic significance used in yoga, consist of putting the body into certain positions. I suspect that the actual bodily posture has a definite patterning effect on interoceptive input and can affect consciousness if you are sensitive to input from your own body, the patterning of interoceptive input may occur, but since not much awareness is gained, posture does not pattern attention/awareness energy in a way that would affect consciousness.
    Another way of patterning interoceptive input is the altered states of consciousness induction device (ASCID) developed by Masters and Houston {37} on the basis of medieval accounts of the witch's cradle. This is an upright frame into which a person straps himself. the frame is hung from a short rope, so slight motions cause it to rock in erratic patterns. This produces anomalous patterns of input for the occupant to process: some interoceptors tell him he is standing up and therefore needs to exert certain muscular actions to maintain this posture, but other interoceptors tell him he is standing up and therefore needs to exert certain muscular actions to maintain this posture, but other interoceptors tell him he is relaxed and not making these muscular actions. Other interoceptive sense indicate that he is moving and must do things to maintain his balance, but there are in conflict with other interoceptive sensations that he is passive. Since he is not used to such an anomalous, conflicting pattern of stimulation, it can greatly disrupt Input Processing.


Input Processing

    Before reaching awareness, all input data, whether interoceptive or exteroceptive, normally goes through various degrees of processing. The Input-Processing subsystem consists of a complex, interlocking series of totally automatic processes that compares incoming data against previously learned material stored in memory, rejects much of the data as irrelevant, selects some of them as important enough to deserve further processing, transforms and abstracts these important data, and passes this abstraction along to awareness. Thus, a major function of Input-Processing is rejection. At any given instant, you are generally bombarded by an enormous quantity of sensory data of all sorts. Most of the data is not important in terms of defined needs, such as your biological survival. Since your ability to handle information and awareness is limited, you would be overwhelmed if all this mass of incoming data came through. Instead, you receive a small abstraction of incoming information that is important by personal and consensus reality standards.
    Input-Processing is totally automatic. Look at this thing that is in your hands with the question, "What is it?" in your mind. Immediately you see a book. You did not have the experience of seeing a whitish rectangular object with dark spots on it. You did not further experience these spots as being arranged in lines, and the individual spots as having distinctive characteristics, which you then, by painstaking examination, arranged into words and sentences, and so concluded that this was a book in your hands. No, the recognition of this thing as a book was instantaneous and automatic. To demonstrate how automatic the processing is, look at the book again and try to see it as simply a collection of incoming, assorted stimuli instead of as a book.
    Unless you have some unusual abilities, you find it very difficult to see this object as anything but a book.
    Numerous psychological studies have focused on the way perception is automated. Many of these studies have mistakenly assumed they were studying the "accuracy" of perception. What they were usually studying was the agreement with consensus reality standards for perceiving things. An immediate, automatic perception of socially defined reality is taken as being "realistic" and as a sign of a "good-observer."
    Thus, Input-Processing is a learned behavior, probably the most complex a human being has to acquire. Think of the number of connections among stimuli and the number of responses associated with the various stimuli that an infant must learn before he can be said to "think." the task is staggering. The infant must learn to perceive instantly and automatically all major features of consensus reality as his parents, peers, and teachers do. This means that an immense amount of information must be stored in memory (it does not matter whether it is stored in the Memory subsystem or in a special Input-Processing memory) and be almost instantly available to Input-Processing. Total automation of the process is equated with efficiency: if I have to struggle to identify an object, I feel stupid; but if I recognize it right away, I feel competent and smart.
    In relation to enculturation process, we discussed the fact that a child has more options for his consciousness than a teenager or an adult. This is another way of saying that the automatization of Input-Processing and its efficiency become comprehensive with increasing age, until by the time we are adults almost everything in our world is instantly recognized and dealt with "appropriately." An adult sees things almost exclusively in a culturally approved way and makes culturally approved responses. Rigidity increases with age: that is what Timothy Leary meant when he said, "Don't trust anyone over thirty." The statement is overgeneralized, but it does contain an important psychological truth: older people are liable to be less able to see things differently from the way they have always been accustomed to seeing them.
    Numerous psychological studies show variation in Input-Processing that are related to differences within consensus reality. An early study of perception, for example, showed that poor children tend to perceive coins as physically larger than rich children do. People with strong religious values tend to pick up words and other stimuli relating to religion more readily than they do those relating to economics, and vice versa. People with neuroses or psychoses tend to be especially sensitive to certain stimuli that trigger their neurotic structures and to distort perception in ways that fit these neurotic structures. Projective tests, in which the subject is shown a relatively ambiguous stimulus like an ink blot and asked to describe what he sees, are a way of investigating the underlying structures of Input-Processing. If he repeatedly sees a murdered baby in several different blots, we might begin to wonder about the way he has dealt with aggression in his life or about his feelings toward his parents.
    In terms of the basic concepts of attention/awareness, psychological energy, and structure, Input-Processing represents a large number of structures, each specialized in responding to certain kinds of stimulus patterns. It has a certain amount of psychological energy always available, so that this active set of structures almost always stands between you and your sense. Input-Processing is automatized in the sense that the structures always draw energy of some sort when activated and process information in a relatively fixed way before passing this information on to awareness.
    The ubiquity of Input-Processing is a main reason I have elsewhere distinguished consciousness from awareness. Some kind of "pure" awareness may be a basic from which we start, but ordinarily we experience consciousness, awareness as it is vastly modified by the machinery of the mind. Here Input-Processing in effects places a number of structures between us and our sensory input, and even our sensory input comes through the Exteroception and Interoception subsystems, which are themselves structures with characteristics of their own. Other subsystems are also structures that modify or pattern basic awareness into consciousness. The systems diagram presented as Figure 8-1 shows awareness in a distinct place, but it really spreads through the various subsystems and so becomes consciousness.
    The main function of Input-Processing, then, is abstraction. This subsystem is rather like a vast organization that keeps track of an industry's progress and problems and, through hierarchical chains, passes on only the most abstracted reports to the president of the company.
    Input-Processing also generalizes, gives a familiar abstracted output to unfamiliar situations that are reasonably close to particular perceptions that have been learned. Thus you recognize this object as a book even though you have never seen this particular book before: it is similar enough to other books to have label automatically applied to it. This kind of generalization may be greatly affected by dominated needs and emotions: all apples look alike to a hungry man.

    Various aspects of Input-Processing can show extremely large changes in various d-ASCs. There are large quantitative changes, that is, the range of continuous changes in various aspects of Input-Processing may be greater or less than in your ordinary d-SoC. Your ability to focus attention on particular percepts, for example, may be quantitatively greater or quantitatively less in various d-ASCs.
    There are also many important qualitative changes that may be experienced as entirely new modes of perception. Some of these may be the activation of latent human potentials. Patterns may be seen in ordinarily ambiguous data, making it obviously meaningful. An important effect of marijuana intoxication, for example, is the ability to look at normally ambiguous material, such as the grain pattern in a sheet of wood, and see it as an actual picture. New shades of color are reported in various d-ASCs, new qualities to sound. We shall reserve judgment for the moment on whether these are veridical with respect to the actual stimulating objects.
    Apparently fixed properties of perceptual organization may change in various d-ASCs as Input-Processing changes. Carlos Castaneda {9} for example, describes how Don Juan taught him how to turn into a crow while he was intoxicated with a hallucinogenic plant: an outstanding aspect of this experience was that his visual field from each eye became split, so that he had two quite different fields, just as if his eyes were on separate sides of his head, instead of the usual overlapping, integrated field.
    Illusions and hallucinations, frequently reported in d-ASCs, represent important changes in Input-Processing. The conventional definition of illusion is a misinterpretation of a stimulus that is actually there, as, for example, when on entering a dimly lit room you mistake a coat hanging on a rack for a person. Hallucination is conventionally defined as a vision of something that is not there at all, as, for example, when on entering the same dimly lit room you see a person, even though the room is empty. While it is easy to distinguish these two extremes, there is obviously a continuum between them: there is always a certain amount of random neural firing in your retina, a "something" there.
    In a more general sense, we must realize that "misperception" and "what is and is not there" are usually defined in terms of consensus reality. We may hope that our consensus reality has a high degree of accuracy with respect to physical reality, but to assume automatically that it does is to be very parochial. If one person hears a given piece of music as exceptionally beautiful in its melody, and another hears it as quite common, was the first person suffering an illusion, or was he really more perceptive? We must be particularly careful in dealing with phenomena from d-ASCs that our consensus reality automatically defines as hallucinatory. Should we have so much faith in the conceptual schemes evolved in our ordinary d-SoC that we automatically dismiss anything that does not fit with them? It is bad science to continue to do so.
    An illusion, then, is Input-Processing's interpretation of a stimulus in a way that does not match consensus reality standards. Whether the interpretation added by the illusion is a richer and more accurate perception of a stimulus pattern, or a more distorted and less accurate one, varies with individual cases. In terms of d-ASCs we know about, my general impression is that they possess the property of making our perception more accurate in some ways and less accurate in others.
    A hallucination is a functioning of Input-Processing whereby stored information is drawn from Memory, worked over by Input-Processing, and passed along to awareness as if it were sensory data. The special label or quality that identifies the source of this vivid image as memory is missing; the quality that identifies it as a sensory stimulus is present. Depending on the type of d-ASC, a hallucination may completely dominate perception, totally wiping out all sensory input coming through Input-Processing, or may be mixed with processed sensory data. The intensity of the hallucination may be as great as that of ordinary sensory information, even greater, or less.
    An interesting dimension of variability of Input-Processing in d-ASCs is the degree to which it can be voluntarily altered. The degree of control may be high or low. I recall participating in some experiments on the effect of psilocybin, a psychedelic like LSD, when I was a graduate student. While intoxicated by the drug, I had to sort through a batch of file cards, each of which contained a statement of various possible symptoms. If I was experiencing the symptom, I was to put the card in the "true" pile, if I was not, in the "false" pile. I quickly found that I could make almost every statement true if I so desired, simply by reading it several times. I would pick up a statement like "My palms are sweating green sweat," think that would be an interesting experience, reread the statement several times, and then look at my hands and see that, sure enough, they were sweating green sweat! I could read a statement like "The top of my head is soft" several times and feel the top of my head become soft! Thus, while intoxicated with psilocybin my degree of voluntary control over Input-Processing became very large, sufficiently to create both illusions and hallucinations by merely focusing attention/awareness energy on the desired outcome.
    Another type of variation that can occur in Input-Processing in d-ASCs is the partial or total blocking of input from exterocepters or interoceptors. The d-ASC of deep hypnosis is an example. One can suggest to a talented, deeply hypnotized subject that he is blind, that he cannot feel pain, that he cannot hear, and experientially this will be so. The subject will not respond to a light or to objects shown him, and both during the d-ASC and afterward in his ordinary d-SoC, will swear that he perceived nothing. His eyes are still obviously functioning, and evoked brain responses recorded from the scalp show that input is traveling over the sensory nerves from his eye to his brain, but at the stage of Input-Processing the input is cut off so it does not reach awareness. Similarly, analgesia to pain may be induced in hypnosis and other d-ASCs.
    When input is completely blocked in Input-Processing there may or may not be a substitution of other input. Thus information may be drawn from memory to substitute a hallucination for the actual blocked information. If, for example, a deeply hypnotized subject is told that he cannot see a particular person who is in the room, he may not simply experience a blank when looking at that person (which sometimes happens), he may actually hallucinate that details of the room behind the person and thus see no anomalous area in his visual field at all.
    Another important change in d-ASCs is that, experientially, there may seem to be less Input-Processing, less abstracting, so a person feels more in touch with the raw, unprocessed input from his environment. This is especially striking with the psychedelics and is also reported as an aftereffect of concentrative meditation and as a direct effect of opening-up meditation. I know of no experimental studies that have thoroughly investigated whether one can actually be more aware of raw sensory data, but this is certainly a strong experiential feeling. It is not necessarily true, however. Vivid illusions can be mistaken for raw sensory data or (probably what happens) there can be a mixture of greater perception of raw data and more illusion substituted. Whether there is any particular d-ASC in which the balance is generally toward better perception through less abstracting is unknown at present.
    Psychedelic-drug-induced conditions are particularly noteworthy for the experience of feeling in contact with the raw data of perception, and this makes perceptions exceptionally beautiful, vibrant, and alive. By contrast, usual perception in the ordinary d-SoC, seems lifeless, abstract, with all the beauty of reality removed to satisfy various needs and blend in with consensus reality.
    Also reported in d-ASCs is an experience of feeling more in touch with the actual machinery of Input-Processing, gaining some insight or direct experience of how the abstracting processes work. For example, I was once watching a snowfall through a window at night, with a brilliant white spotlight on the roof illuminating the falling snow. I was in an unusually quiet state of mind (it was too brief for me to decide whether it was a d-ASC), and suddenly I noticed that instead of simply watching white snow fall (my usual experience), I was seeing each snowflake glinting and changing with all colors of the spectrum. I felt strongly that an automated Input-Processing activity that makes snow white had temporarily broken down. Afterward, it struck me that this was likely, for white is actually all the colors of the spectrum combined by Exteroception (eyes) and Input-Processing to the sensation of white. Thus a snowflake actually reflects all the colors of the spectrum, and active "doing" (to use Don Juan's term) on the viewer's part is required to turn it into white. There is no light energy of "white" in the physicist's world. Similarly, persons have reported gaining insights into how various automatic processes organize their perception by being able to see the lack of organization of it or by seeing the alternative organizations that occur.
    Synesthesia is another radical change in Input-Processing that sometimes takes place in some d-ASCs. Stimulation of one sense is perceived in awareness as though a different sense had been stimulated at the same time. For example, hearing music is accompanied by seeing colored forms. This is the most common and perhaps the most beautiful form of synesthesia, and is sometimes reported with marijuana intoxication.

    All techniques for inducing d-ASCs, except drug or physiological effects that act directly on various bodily functions, must work through Input-Processing. That subsystem mediates all communication. Yet it is useful to distinguish between induction techniques that are primarily designed to disrupt stabilization of the b-SoC in some other subsystem without significantly affecting Input-Processing per se, and those that are designed to disrupt Input-processing directly as a way of destabilizing the b-SoC.
    In this latter class is a wide variety of techniques designed to give a person input that is uncanny in terms of the familiar ways of processing input in the b-SoC. The input is uncanny, anomalous in a sense of seeming familiar yet being dissimilar enough in various way to engender a pronounced feeling of nonfitting. Often the events are associated with an emotional charge or a feeling of significance that makes that fact that they do not fit even more important. Don Juan, for example, in training Carlos Castaneda to attain various d-ASCs would often frighten Castaneda or destabilize his ordinary state to an extraordinary degree by doing something that seemed almost, but not quite, familiar, such as simply acting normally but with subtle differences at various points.
    The use of uncanny stimuli is not limited to inducing a d-ASC from an ordinary d-SoC.; it can work in reverse. When a person talks about "being brought down" from a valued d-ASC, he means he is presented with stimulation patterns that Input-Processing cannot handle in that d-ASC, so the d-ASC is destabilized, and he returns to his ordinary d-SoC.



    The Memory subsystem is concerned with information storage, with containing residues of past experiences that are drawn upon in the present. Memory is thus a large number of semipermanent changes caused by past experience. We can think of memory as structures, presumably in the brain (but perhaps also in the body structure), which, when activated, produce certain kinds of information. And we should not assume that there is just one Memory; there is probably a special kind of memory for almost every subsystem.
    Conventional psychological views of Memory also often divide memory functioning into short-term or immediate memory, medium-term memory, and long-term memory. Short-term memory is the special memory process that holds information about sensory input and internal processes for a few seconds at the most. Unless it is transferred to a longer-term memory, this information is apparently lost. Thus, as you look at a crowd, searching for a friend's face for a short time, you may remember a lot of details about the crowd. Then you find your friend's face, and the details about the crowd are lost. There is no point in storing them forever. This short-term memory is probably an electrical activity within the brain structure that dies out after a few seconds: no long-term structural changes occur. Once the electrical activity dies out, the information stored in the pattern or in the electrical activity is gone forever.
    Medium-term memory is storage of from minutes to a day or so. It probably involves partial structural changes as well as patterns of energy circulation. You can probably recall what you had for breakfast yesterday morning, but in a few days you will not remember the contents of that meal.
    Long-term memory involves semipermanent structural changes that allow you to recall things experienced and learned a long time ago.
    This division into short-, medium-, and long-term memory is of interest because these kinds of memories may be differentially affected during d-ASCs. At high levels of marijuana intoxication, for example, short-term memory is clearly affected {105}, although long-term memory may not be. Thus, a marijuana user often reports forgetting the beginning of a conversation he is engaged in, but he continues to speak English. There is little more we can say about differential effects of various d-ASCs on these three kinds of memory, as they have not yet been adequately studied. They offer a fruitful field for research.
    A most important aspect of Memory subsystem functioning in various d-ASCs is the phenomenon of state-specific memory. In a number of studies, subjects learned various materials while in d-ASCs, usually drug-induced, and were tested for retention of these materials in a subsequent ordinary d-SoC. Generally, retention was poor. The researchers concluded that things were not stored well in Memory in various d-ASCs. it is now clear that these studies must be reevaluated. Memory is specific. The way in which information is stored, or the kind of Memory it is stored in, is specific to the d-SoC the material was learned in. The material may be stored, but may not transfer to another state. If material is learned in a d-ASC and its retention tested in another d-SoC and found to be poor, the nonretention may indicate either an actual lack of storage of the information or a state-specific memory and lack of transfer. The proper way to test is to reinduce the d-ASC in which the material was learned and see how much material is retained in that state. State-specific memory has been repeatedly demonstrated in animals, although the criterion for the existence of a "state" in such studies is simply that the animals were drugged to a known degree, a criterion not very useful with humans, as explained later.
    There is now experimental evidence that for high levels of alcohol intoxication there is definite state-specific memory in humans {21}. It is an experimental demonstration of the old folk idea that if you lose something while very drunk and cannot find it the next day, you may be able to find it if you get very drunk again and then search. Experiential data collected in my study of marijuana users {105} also indicate the existence of state-specific memory, and I have recently received verbal reports that laboratory studies are finding state-specific memory for marijuana intoxication. There also seems to be state-specific memory for the conditions induced by major psychedelic drugs.
    State-specific memory can be readily constructed for hypnosis that is, state-specific memory may not occur naturally for hypnosis, but it can be made to occur. If you tell a hypnotized subject he will remember everything that happened in hypnosis when he comes back to his ordinary state such will be his experience. On the other hand, if you tell a deeply hypnotized subject he will remember nothing of what went on during hypnosis or that he will remember certain aspects of the experience but not others, this will also be the case when he returns to his ordinary state. In any event he will recall the experiences the next time he is hypnotized. This is not a pure case of state-specific memory, however, because amnesia for hypnotic experiences in the waking state can be eliminated by a prearranged cue as well as by reinducing the hypnosis.
    Another excellent example of state-specific memory is that occurring in spiritualist mediums. A medium enters a d-ASC in which his ordinary consciousness and sense of identity appear to blank out for a time. He may report wandering in what may be loosely called a dreaming state. Meanwhile, an alleged spirit entity ostensibly possesses him and acts as if it has full consciousness. Upon returning to a normal state, the medium usually has total amnesia regarding the events of the d-ASC. The alleged spirit communicator, however, usually shows perfect continuity of memory from state to state.[2]
    I suspect that state-specific Memory subsystems will be discovered for many or most d-ASCs, but the necessary research has not been done. The kinds of state-specific memories may vary in completeness. The ones we know of now—from marijuana intoxication, for example—are characterized by transfer of some information to the ordinary d-SoC but nontransfer of other information, the latter often being the most essential and important aspects of the d-ASC experience.
    Ordinarily, when we think of Memory we think of information becoming accessible to awareness, becoming part of consciousness, but we should note that we "remember" many things even though we have no awareness of them. Your current behavior is affected by a multitude of things you have learned in the past but which you are not aware of as memories. You walk across the room and your motion is determined by a variety of memories, even though you do not think of them as memories.
    Note also that you can remember things you were not initially aware of. When you scan a crowd looking for a friend's face, you may be consciously aware of hardly any details of other faces, being sensitive only to your friend's. A minute later, when asked to recall something about the crowd, however, you may be able to recall a lot of information about it. For this reason, Figure 8-1 shows a direct information flow arrow from Input-Processing to Memory. We store in Memory not only things that have been in awareness, but also things that were never much in awareness to begin with.
    An interesting quality of information retrieved from Memory is that we generally know, at least implicitly, that we are retrieving memories. We do not confuse these with sensations or thoughts. Some kind of operating signal or extra informational quality seems to be attached to the memory information itself that says "This is a memory." There is an intriguing analogy for this. In the early days of radio, when a newscast tuned you in to a foreign correspondent, there was an obvious change in the quality of the audio signal, a change that you associated with a foreign correspondent broadcasting over a long distance on short wave. The sound was tinny, the volume faded in and out, there were hisses and crackles. This was a noninformational extra that became so associated in listeners' minds with hearing a real foreign correspondent that many radio stations resorted to the trick of deliberately adding this kind of distortion years later when communication technology had improved so much that the foreign correspondent's voice sounded as if he was actually in the studio. The added distortions made the listeners feel they were indeed hearing a faraway reporter and made the broadcast seem more genuine. Similarly, memory information is usually accompanied by a quality that identifies it as memory. The quality may be implicit: if you are searching actively for various things in your Memory, you need not remind yourself that you are looking at memories.
    This extra informational quality of memory can sometimes be detached from memory operation per se. It is possible to have a fantasy, for example, with the "this is a memory" quality attached, in which you mistakenly believe you are remembering something instead of just fantasizing it. Or, the quality may be attached in a d-ASC to an incoming sensory perception, triggering the experience of déjà vu, the feeling that you have seen this before. Thus you may be touring in a city you have never visited and it all looks very familiar; you are convinced you remember what it is like because of the presence of the "this is a memory" quality.[3]
    When information is actually drawn from Memory without the quality "this is a memory" attached, interesting things can happen in various d-ASCs. Hallucinations, for example, are information drawn from memory without the memory quality attached, but with the quality "This is a perception" attached.
    Much of the functioning of the Sense of Identity subsystem (discussed later) occurs via the Memory subsystem. You sense of who you are is closely related to the possession of certain memories. If the "this is a memory" quality is eliminated from those memories so that they become just data, you sense of identity can be strongly affected.
    Other variations of Memory subsystem functioning occur in various d-ASCs. The ease with which desired information can be retrieved from memory varies so that in some d-ASCs it seems hard to remember what you want, in others it seems easier than usual. The richness of the information retrieved varies in different d-ASCs, so that sometimes you remember only sketchily, and at other times in great detail. The search pattern for retrieving memories also varies. If you have to go through a fairly complex research procedure to find a particular memory, you may end up with the wrong memories or associated memories rather than what you were looking for. If you want to remember an old friend's name, for example, you may fail to recall the name but remember his birthday.
    Finally, we should note that a great many things are stored in Memory but not available in the ordinary d-SoC. The emotional charge connected with those memories makes them unacceptable in the ordinary d-SoC, and so defense mechanisms repress or distort our recall of such information. In various d-ASCs the nature of the defense mechanisms may change or their intensity of functioning may alter, allowing the memories to become more or less available.



    The Subconscious is usually defined as representing mental processes or phenomena that occur outside conscious awareness and that ordinarily cannot become conscious. They are part of the mind, but not conscious. How do we know they exist if we cannot be consciously aware of them? We infer their existence we observe certain aspects of our own and others' functioning that cannot be adequately explained on the basis of our or their immediately available conscious experiences, and we infer that forces or phenomena outside consciousness are affecting it—from behind the scenes, as it were. Thus, from the viewpoint of our ordinary d-SoC, the Subconscious subsystem is a hypothesis, an inferential construct needed to explain conscious behavior. A psychoanalyst, for example, observes that a patient becomes pale and trembles every time he speaks of his brother, yet when questioned about him says they have a good relationship. The psychoanalyst hypothesizes that in the patient's Subconscious there is a good deal of unresolved anxiety and anger toward the brother.
    The emphasis here is that subconscious processes occur outside awareness from the viewpoint of the ordinary d-SoC. What is subconscious from the reference point of the ordinary d-SoC may become conscious in d-ASCs.
    I deliberately use the term subconscious rather than the more commonly employed unconscious to avoid the strictly psychoanalytic connotations of unconscious mind. The classical, Freudian unconscious (the sexual and aggressive instincts and their sublimations and repressions) is included in the Subconscious subsystem described here. The Subconscious also include creative processes, the kinds of things we vaguely call intuition and hunches, tender and loving feelings that may be just as inhibited in their expression as sexual and aggressive ones, and other factors influencing conscious behavior. All these things are mysterious and poorly understood by our conscious minds.
    Also included as subconscious processes for many of us are the kinds of thinking that are now called right hemisphere modalities of thinking {47}. The type of thinking associated with the right hemisphere seems holistic rather than analytic, atemporal rather than sequential in time, more concerned with patterns than with details. But for many of us in whom intellectual, sequential, rational development has been overstressed and this other mode inhibited or ignored, this right hemisphere thinking is largely subconscious.
    D-ASCs may alter the relationship between what is conscious and what is subconscious. Figure 8-2 expresses this idea. In the ordinary d-SoC, it is convenient to think of the conscious part of the mind as the part that is in the full focus of consciousness or is readily available to such consciousness, to think of a preconscious part that is ordinarily not in the full focus of consciousness but can be made so with little effort, and a Subconscious subsystem that is ordinarily completely cut off from conscious awareness even though special techniques, such as psychoanalytic ones, give inferential information about it. I have followed the general psychoanalytic conventions (1) of showing the Subconscious as the largest part of the mind, to indicate that the largest portion of experience and behavior is probably governed by subconscious forces we are not aware of, and (2) of showing the conscious and preconscious parts of the mind as about equal in size. The barrier between conscious and preconscious has many "holes" in it while the Subconscious is relatively inaccessible. For example, if you dislike someone and I ask you to think about why you dislike him, a little thought may show that the reasons behind your immediate dislike result from a synthesis of the person's appearance and some unpleasant experiences you previously have had with people of that appearance. These reasons might actually be based on deeply buried subconscious feelings that all people of the same sex are rivals for mother's affection, things you ordinarily cannot become aware of without special therapeutic techniques.
    Preconscious and subconscious contents may be more or less readily available in a d-ASC, depending on the d-ASC. In d-ASC 1 in Figure 8-2, more other mind and preconscious material are directly in consciousness and less are in the Subconscious subsystem. This, incidentally, is one of the danger of experiencing a d-ASC: a person may be overwhelmed by emotionally charged material, normally subconscious, that he is not ready to handle. This can happen with marijuana intoxication or other psychedelic-drug-induced states, as well as with meditative states or hypnosis. In all these states things that are ordinarily preconscious or subconscious may become conscious.
    D-ASC 2 illustrates the kind of state in which things that are ordinarily conscious may become preconscious or subconscious. Certain drug-induced states or other d-ASCs that tend toward stupor might fit in this category, where consciousness feels quite restricted and dull, even though the subject's behavior suggests that previously conscious material is still affecting him. The alcoholic blackout state is interesting in this context, for the person seems to behave "normally" in many ways, indicating that much ordinarily conscious knowledge is still present, even though this is a blackout in terms of later recall.
    D-ASC 3 represents various d-ASCs in which much subconscious material might become preconscious: it will not necessarily well up by itself, but it is much more readily available than ordinarily. Thus the potential for exploring the mind is greater, but effort must still be exerted. Marijuana intoxication can do this.
    In terms of overall system functioning, I have shown a direct information flow arrow from Input-Processing to the Subconscious, and a feedback control arrow from the Subconscious to Input-Processing. Processed input information may reach the Subconscious and have effects even when it does not reach awareness. To use again the example of scanning the crowd, even though you are consciously looking for your friend's face, the impact of another face may trigger subconscious processes because of resemblance to someone emotionally meaningful to you, and may produce later effects on you even though you were not consciously aware of seeing that particular person.
    The feedback control arrow from Subconscious to Input-Processing indicates that the Subconscious subsystem may have a major control over perception. Our likes and dislikes, needs and fears, can affect what we see. This kind of selectivity in perception is discussed in relation to the Input-Processing subsystem. I bring it up here to indicate a distinction between relatively permanent, learned selectivities of perception that are inherent in Input-Processing itself, such as ability to recognize words, and selectivities that are more dependent on the current emotional state of the Subconscious subsystem, and so may show more variation from time to time. For example, we have many permanent learnings that are part of Input-Processing and that enable us to distinguish men from women at a glance. But we have sexual needs that peak from time to time, and these may be partially or wholly in the Subconscious subsystem because of cultural repressive pressures. As these repressed needs vary, they affect Input-Processing and change our current perceptions of people of the opposite sex: they can become much more attractive when we are aroused.
    We should also briefly note the possibility of the activation of archetypes from the Collective Unconscious during d-ASCs. The terms archetypes and Collective Unconscious are used in Carl Jung's sense. The Collective Unconscious refers to a large body of biologically inherited psychological structures,, most of which remains latent human potentials. Particular structures are archetypes, innate patterns that can emerge and dominate consciousness because of the high psychic energy residing in them if the right stimuli for activation occur. Myths of heroic quests, demons, gods, energies, God, Christ, are held by Jung to be particular archetypes from the Collective Unconscious, which express themselves at various times in human history. It would take far too much space here to give them adequate consideration; the interested reader should refer to the collected works of Carl Jung. It should be noted, however, that some d-ASCs frequently facilitate the emergence of archetypes.


Evaluation and Decision-Making

    The Evaluation Decision-Making subsystem refers to those intellectual, cognitive processes with which we deliberately evaluate the meaning of things and decide what to do about them.[4] It is the subsystem constituting our thinking, our problem-solving, our understanding. It is where we apply a logic to data presented to us and reach a conclusion as a result of processing the data in accordance with that logic.
    Note that a logic is a self-contained, arbitrary system. Two and two do not make four in any "real" sense; they make four because they have been defined that way. That a particular logic is highly useful in dealing with the physical world should not blind us to the fact that it is basically an arbitrary, self-contained, assumptive system. Thus, when I define the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem as processing information in accordance with a logic, I do not intend to give it an ultimate validity, but just to note that there is an assumptive system, heavily influenced by culture and personal history, which processes data. In our ordinary d-SoC there may actually be several different logics applied at various times. I might apply the logic of calculus to certain kinds of problems in electronics, but not to problems of interpersonal relationships.
    We should also note, as honest self-observation will reveal, that much of what passes as rationality in our ordinary d-SoC is in fact rationalization. We want something, so we make up "good" reasons for having it.
    The discussion that follows is confined to intellectual, conscious evaluation and decision-making. Some aspects of this become automated and go on in the fringes of awareness, but they are potentially available to full consciousness should we turn our attention to them. Other subsystems, such as Emotions and the Subconscious, also evaluate data, classify them as good or bad, threatening or benign, etc. We are not concerned with these here, however; we shall consider only conscious, intellectual kinds of decision-making and evaluation.
    Figure 8-3 illustrates the typical operation of the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem for the ordinary d-SoC. The process starts (lower left-hand corner) when you encounter some kind of problem situation in life. The stimuli from this situation, coming in via the Exteroception subsystem, are subjected to a large amount of Input-Processing, and some abstraction of the situation reaches your awareness. Assume this initial abstraction is puzzling: it doesn't make sense to you and you don't know what to do. So the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem draws upon information stored in the Memory subsystem in order to evaluate it. Figure 8-3 shows information both coming from Memory and going to memory to guide the retrieval of memory information, making it selective and relevant. Further assume that, given the presented information and what is available in Memory, the situation still makes only partial sense. You decide to seek more information. Controlling information is sent to Input-processing to produce more information about the situation, to look at it from another angle. Getting this further information, you again compare it against what you already know, and one of two sequences results. If the situation still does not make sense, and you have no way of getting further information, you may take the option, shown by the upward-slanting arrow, of simply not acting on the situation for the time being. If it doesn't make sense, in accordance with whatever logic you are using, you can then consult your memory for criteria for valued or appropriate kinds of actions, given your understanding of the situation, and then act in that appropriate way. Your action modifies the situation, which changes the data reaching you from the situation through Exteroception and Input-Processing, and the whole process may be repeated. Continuous cycling through this sort of process is what we call thinking and action.
    In the ordinary d-SoC, the operation of the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem is often hyperactive to the point of constituting noise—noise in the sense that the overinvestment of attention/awareness energy in this process lowers the ability to notice and deal with other sources of relevant information. You cannot hear your sense over the noise of your thoughts. The cycle shown in Figure 8-3 tends to be endless and self-perpetuating. Something happens, you think about it, reach a decision, and act, which changes the situation and makes you reevaluate it. Or you do not act, but thinking about it reminds you of something else, which reminds you of something else, about which you make a decision, which results in action that modifies another situation, which starts more evaluation and association processes. For example, someone on the street asks me for money, which starts me thinking about disinterested charity versus the work ethic ("Why doesn't he get a job? I work for my money. Maybe he is unfortunate, but he could also be too lazy. Maybe I'm being manipulated; I've been manipulated before, etc. etc.") and I'm so involved in this thought process that I do not notice various perceptual cues that would inform me about this person's actual situation and intentions.
    Earlier, in discussing the stabilization processes that maintain a state of consciousness I pointed out that this endless thinking process is a major source of loading stabilization in an ordinary d-SoC. It continually reinforces consensus reality, for we tend to think continuously about the things we have been reinforced for thinking about, and it absorbs such a large amount of our attention/awareness energy that we have little of that energy available for other processes. This Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem activity has an extremely large amount of psychological inertia: if you are not fully convinced of this, I suggest that you put this book down right now and try to turn the system off for five minutes. Don't think of anything, don't evaluate anything for the next five minutes. That also means don't think about not thinking.
    Now, unless you a rare individual indeed, you have seen the difficulty of stopping activity of your Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem. This enormous psychological inertia is excellent for maintaining your social membership in consensus reality, but if your personality structure and/or consensus reality is unsatisfactory and/or you wish to explore other d-SoCs besides you ordinary one, this endless activity of the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem can be a tremendous liability.
    Within the ordinary d-SoC, there is some quantitative variation in the activity of the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem. Some days you feel intellectually sharp, and your mind is quick and you solve problems accurately on the first try. Other days you mind seems dull; you fail to grasp things right away, have to think a lot just to understand elementary points, have a hard time putting things together. There is also some variation within the ordinary d-SoC in the overall quantity of thoughts: some days your thoughts seem to race, other days they are a bit slower than normal. There is probably also quantitative variation in the redundancy of thinking, the degree to which you use multiple, overlapping processes to check on your own accuracy. And there is a quantitative variation in the degree to which you logical evaluation is distorted by emotional factors. When you are in a situation that activates conscious and subconscious emotions, your logic borders on pure rationalization; in a less threatening situation your logic may be relatively flawless. But these variations all stay within an expected range that you have come to think of as your ordinary d-SoC.
    All the above relatively quantitative variations in the functioning of the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem may be exaggerated in various d-ASCs. Your thoughts may seem to race faster than you can comprehend them; the slowing down or accuracy of your logic processes can seem much more extreme than in your ordinary d-SoC. A drunk, for example, may not be able to think through a simple problem, while someone intoxicated on marijuana may have crystal-clear insights into a formerly baffling problem. I cannot be more specific about this, as there has been little quantitative research on it so far. However, experiential reports suggest that the quantitative variations can be large.
    Even more interesting are qualitative variations in various d-ASCs. One of these is the substitution of a different logic from one ordinarily used in your b-SoC. Martin Orne {44} has reported some interesting demonstrations. A deeply hypnotized subject is given a suggestion—for example, "The number three no longer makes any sense, the idea of three is a meaningless concept." The subject is then given various arithmetical problems such as two plus one equals what? Depending on subsidiary assumptions the subject makes, he rapidly evolves a new arithmetical logic that does not involve the number three. To the question, "What does two plus one equal?" he answers, "Four." To the question, "Sic divided by two equals what?" he answers either, "Two" or "Four," depending on the subsidiary assumptions. Thus a whole new logic can be readily programmed in the d-ASC of hypnosis. Various state-specific logics have been reported for meditative and psychedelic states, but they do not seem communicable in the ordinary d-SoC.
    In the ordinary d-SoC, we are intolerant of contradictions in logic; in a d-ASC, tolerance for contradictions may be much higher. Again, an example from hypnosis is illustrative. I once suggested to an extremely susceptible subject, while he was in the hypnotic d-ASC, that mentally he was getting up from his chair, going down the hall and outside the laboratory building. he described this experience to me as it was happening. He experienced himself as being in the yard in back of the laboratory, where he reported seeing a mole come up to the surface from its tunnel. I asked him to catch the mole and hold on to it, and he said he had. Later I had him in his mental journey come back into the laboratory, walk upstairs, reenter the room where we were sitting, and stand in the middle of the floor. I asked him what he saw in the room, and he gave a general overall description of the room, omitting any mention of the chair in which he was sitting. Something like the following dialogue then occurred:
    CT: Is there anyone sitting in the chair?
    T: I am.
    CT: Didn't you just tell me you were standing in the middle of the room?
    S: Yes, I am standing in the middle of the room.
    CT: Do you think it's contradictory to tell me you're standing in the middle of the room and sitting in the chair at the same time?
    S: Yes.
    CT: Does this contradiction bother you?
    S: No.
    CT: Which one of the two selves is your real self?
    S: They are both my real self.
    This stumped me until I finally thought of another question.
    CT: Is there any difference at all between the two selves?
    S: Yes, the me standing in the middle of the floor has a mole in his hands.
    It is tempting to view this tolerance for contradictions as a deterioration in logic, but remember that contradiction is itself defined in terms of a particular logic, and since logics are self-contained assumptive structures, thinking in a pattern containing contradictions according to one system of logic may not necessarily mean that the thinking is useless or absolutely invalid. Indeed, some investigators have hypothesized that an increased ability to tolerate contradictions is necessary for creative thought. It should also be noted that many people who experience this ability to tolerate contradictions in d-ASCs believe it to be a transcendent, superior quality, not necessarily an inferior one. Sometimes they feel they are using a superior logic. Nevertheless, the ability to tolerate contradictions per se is not necessarily a superior quality.
    Since this book is written in ordinary, Western d-SoC logic, there are difficulties in writing about d-ASC logics. New logics can emerge, appropriate to a particular d-ASC. New sets of (implicit) assumptions and rules for handling information in accordance with these assumptions seem to be inherent or learnable in a particular d-ASC. Within that particular d-ASC, and in repeated experiences in that d-ASC, these rules may be quite consistent and illogical. But writing about this is difficult because new state-specific logics may not seem like logics at all in other d-SoCs. From the viewpoint of some other d-SoC (usually the ordinary one) the logic is apparent, consistent, and useful. The existence of such state-specific logics is obvious to a number of people who experienced them in d-ASCs: they have not yet been proved to exist in a way acceptable to ordinary d-SoC evaluation.
    The question whether there are state-specific logics or merely inferior, error-ridden logics in d-ASCs is further complicated by the tendency of new experiencers of d-ASCs to overvalue their experiences in those d-ASCs. The experiences are so fascinating and often so emotionally potent in a d-ASC that is new to you that you tend to accept uncritically everything about it. Clearly, the sense of "This is a remarkable, obviously true and wonderful truth" is a parainformational quality, like the quality "This is a memory" discussed earlier, and can attach itself to various contents regardless of their logical truth value. The feeling that something is true, no matter how emotionally impressive, is no guarantee of its truth. The final test of whether a state-specific logic exists for a particular d-ASC will involve not only the sequential validation and replication of a logic of an individual experiencer as he reenters a particular d-ASC time after time, but also his ability to communicate that logic to others in that d-ASC and have them independently validate it, a point elaborated later in connection with state-specific sciences.

    An exciting finding of recent psychological research is the apparent existence of two discrete modes of cognition associated with functioning of the left and right cerebral hemispheres, respectively {47}. In the normal person there are a huge number of interconnections via the corpus callosum between these two hemispheres, and on that physiological basis a person should be able to alternate between two modes of thinking quite readily, choosing whichever is appropriate for a problem. Our culture, however, has greatly overvalued the style of thinking associated with left hemisphere activity—linear, sequential, rational, intellectual, cause-and-effect, analytical thinking. Right hemisphere functioning seems more concerned with pattern recognition, with wholes, with simultaneity rather than sequence, and with bodily functioning. The right hemisphere mode is more an analog mode than a digital mode. Since each mode of evaluation is highly valid when appropriately applied to a problem it is suited for, we become limited and less effective if we overvalue one mode and apply it to problems more appropriate to the other mode. In the ordinary d-SoC, especially among Western academics, linear thinking is greatly overvalued, so we exist in a unbalanced, pathological state. The reasoning behind this is complex, and the interested reader should consult Ornstein's The Psychology of Consciousness {47} and the sources he draws upon.
    Many d-ASC experiences seem to reflect a greatly increased use of the right hemisphere mode of cognition. Experiencers talk of seeing patterns in things, of simultaneously and instantaneously grasping relationships they cannot ordinarily grasp, of being unable to express these things verbally. The experience is usually reported as pleasant and rewarding and often is valued as a higher or more true form of cognition. Apparently left and right hemisphere functioning is more balanced or there may even be a shift to dominance of right hemisphere functioning. The experience does not lend itself to verbal description, but may be communicable in other ways, as through music or dance. It should be noted as a major shift in the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem that can occur in d-ASCs.[5]
    In the ordinary d-SoC, constant, repetitious thinking absorbs a great deal of attention/awareness energy and acts as a form of loading stabilization. Since attention/awareness energy is taken away from this left hemisphere type of activity in d-ASCs, and the energy becomes more freely available, psychological functions that are only latent potentials in the ordinary d-SoC may become noticeable. They are made noticeable not only through the availability of attention/awareness energy, but also because the noise of constant thinking is reduced. These new functions may resemble instincts giving us information about situations or, since a right hemisphere mode of functioning may emit some of its output in the form of bodily sensations (a hypothesis of mine that I believe future research will validate), they may enhance sensitivity to such sensations. It is as if in our ordinary d-SoC we are surrounded by a crowd of people talking and shouting continually. If they would all quiet down, we might be able to hear individuals or to hear someone at the edge of the crowd who is saying something important.

    Ordinarily Evaluation and Decision-Making activity consists of a sequential progression from one thought to another. You think of something, that draws up a certain association from memory, which you then think about; this draws up another association, etc. In this temporal sequence of the Evaluation and Decision-Making process, the progression from one thought to another, from association to association to association, it probabilistically controlled by the particular structures/programming built up by enculturation and life experience. Thus, if I say the word red to you, you are likely to associate some word like blue, green, yellow, some color word, rather than iguana, or sixteen-penny nail, or railroad track. The association that occurs to any particular thought is not absolutely determined, but since some associations are highly likely and others highly unlikely, we could, in principle, generally predict a person's train of thinking if we knew the strength of these various associative habits. Thus, much of our ordinary thinking/evaluation runs in predictable paths. These paths of likely associations are a function of the particular consensus reality we were socialized in.
    Figure 8-4 diagrams, with the heavy arrows, ordinary thinking processes. Given a certain input stimulus for thought, a certain deduction or conclusion is likely to be reached that will draw highly probable association 1, which will result in certain deductions, which will draw up highly probable memory association 2, and so on until conclusion 1 is reached. The light arrows represent possible branchings not taken because they are weak, improbable, not made highly likely by habits and enculturation.
    In various d-ASCs the rules governing the probability of associations change in a systematic and/or random way, and so progress along a chain of thought becomes much less predictable by ordinary d-SoC criteria. This is shown by the lower chain of light arrows in Figure 8-4. An unlikely association is made to the same input, which calls up different memory associations, leading to different deductions and further memory associations, etc., until a quite different conclusions, conclusion 2, is reached. Given the same presented problem in two d-SoCs, two quite different conclusions may result. This is creative, in the sense of being unusual. Whether it is practically useful is another question.
    In some of the more stable d-ASCs, like hypnosis or dreaming, I believe the rules for associations may be systematically changed. In d-ASCs induced by powerful psychedelic drugs like LSD (which may not be stable d-ASCs) there may be a relatively random interference with the association processes that may still lead to creative conclusions but that may show no lawfulness in and of themselves.
    Note that the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem controls Input-Processing to some extent in order to find "relevant" data to help solve problems. This can be useful or it can merely reinforce prejudices. Our evaluation of a situation may distort our subsequent perception of it and thus increase our faith in our evaluation, but at the price of distorted perception. In our desire for certainty, we can throw out the reality of the situation.



    The Emotions subsystem is one which I, as a typical overintellectualized Western academic, feel least qualified to write out. I share the intellectual's distrust of emotions as forces that distort my reasoning and are liable to lead me astray. And yet, like most people, my life and consciousness are strongly controlled by the pursuit of pleasant emotions and the avoidance of unpleasant ones.
    Emotions are feelings that can be named but not easily defined. They are feelings that we call grief, fear, joy, surprise, yearning, anger, but that we define inadequately in terms of words: at best we use words to evoke memories of experiences that fit those names.
    The Emotions subsystem is, in one sense, the most important subsystem, for it can exert tremendous influence. If you are experiencing the emotion of fear, it may very well control you evaluations and decisions, the memories you draw upon, how you see the world and how you act. Any strong emotion tends to constellate the rest of consciousness about it. Indeed, I think that while mild levels of any emotion can occur within the region of experiential space we call the ordinary d-SoC, most strong levels of feeling may actually constitute d-ASCs. If you talk about feeling mildly angry, somewhat angry, or extremely angry, you can imagine all these things occurring in your ordinary d-SoC. But if you speak of being enraged, the word evokes associations of changes of perception (such as "seeing red") and cognition that strongly suggest that somewhere in the anger continuum there was a quantum jump, and a d-ASC of rage developed. The same is true for other strong emotions. I shall not develop the idea further here, as strong emotional states have seldom been studied scientifically as they must be to determine if they actually constitute d-SoCs. The idea holds promise for future research.
    Our culture is strongly characterized by poor volitional control over the Emotions subsystem in the ordinary d-SoC. Emotions can change with lightning rapidity; external events can induce them almost automatically. We have accepted this in a despairing way as part of the human condition, ambivalently regarding attempts to control emotions as either virtuous (since all emotions make us lose control, we should suppress them) or artificial (not "genuine"). Techniques from various spiritual disciplines indicate, however, that there can be emotional control that does not involve simple suppression or denial of content of the emotion {128}. Don Juan, for example, stated that since becoming a "man of knowledge" he had transcended ordinary emotions, but could have any one he wished {11}. In d-ASCs, people often report either greatly increased or decreased control over their emotions.
    In addition to changes in the degree of control over emotions, the intensity of emotions themselves may also change in d-ASCs. Dissociation from or dis-identification with emotions also occurs: a person reports that an emotion is going on quite strongly within him, yet is not "his": he is not identified with it and so little affected by it.
    In some d-ASCs new emotions appear, emotions that are never present in the ordinary d-SoC. These include feelings like serenity, tranquillity, and ecstasy. Because we use these words in our ordinary d-SoC we think we understand them, but those who have experienced such emotions in d-ASCs insist that we have only known the palest shadows of them.


Space/Time Sense

    Events and experiences happen at a certain time in a certain place. The naive view of this situation is that we simply perceive the spatial and temporal dimensions of real events. A more sophisticated analysis shows that space and time are experiential constructs that we have used to organize sensory stimuli coming to us. Because the organization has been so often successful for dealing with the environment, we have come to believe that we are simply perceiving what is "out there," rather than automatically and implicitly imposing a conceptual framework on what comes in to us. Ornstein {47} illustrates this in considerable detail in his analysis of time perception, showing that psychological time is a construct, as is physical time, and that a simple equation of the two things is misleading. If we bear in mind that our ordinary concepts of space and time are psychological constructs—highly successful theoretical ones, but nonetheless only constructs—then we shall be less inclined to label as distortions the changes in the functioning of the Space/Time subsystem reported in d-ASCs.
    In the ordinary d-SoC there is a small amount of variation in Space/Time sense, but not much. On a dull day time drags somewhat and on an exciting day it goes by quickly, but this range is not large. The dull hour may seem two or three hours long, a walk home when you are tired may seem twice as far, but this is about the maximum quantitative variation for most people in the ordinary d-SoC. Many other aspects of the space/time framework this subsystem generates are unchanging in the ordinary d-SoC: effects do not precede causes, up and down do not reverse, your body does not shrink or grow larger with respect to the space around it.
    Variations in the apparent rate of time flow may be much larger in some d-ASCs than ordinarily. In the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication, for example, a common experience is for an LP record to seem to play for an hour or more. Since an LP record generally plays for about fifteen minutes, this is approximately a fourfold increase in experienced duration. Ornstein {47} believes that a person's estimate of duration is based on the number of events that have taken place in a given period, so as more things are experienced the elapsed time seems longer. Since marijuana intoxication, like many d-ASCs, involves major changes in Input-Processing so that more sensory information is admitted, this experience of increased duration for a single record and for similar events may be due to the fact that a lot more is happening experientially in that same period of clock time. The converse effect can also happen in d-ASCs: time seems to speed by at an extraordinary rate. An experience that seems to have lasted a minute or two actually lasted an hour.
    A rare but especially intriguing experience reported from some d-ASCs is that the direction of flow of time seems to change. An event from the future happens now; the experiencer may even know it does not belong in the now but will happen later. An effect seems to precede the cause. Our immediate reaction, resulting from our deeply ingrained belief in the total reality of clock time, is that this cannot be "true," and we see the phenomenon as some confusion of time perception or possibly a hallucination.
    A rewarding d-ASC experience is an increased focus on the present moment, a greatly increased here-and-nowness. In the ordinary d-SoC, we usually pay little attention to what is actually happening in the present. We live among memories of the past and amid plans, anticipations, and fantasies about the future. The greatly increased sense of being in the here and now experienced in many d-ASCs usually accompanies a feeling of being much more alive, much more in contact with things. Many meditative practices specifically aim for this increased sense of here-and-nowness. Some d-ASCs seem to produce the opposite effect: the size of the present is "narrowed," making it very difficult to grasp the present moment.
    The experience of archetypal time, the eternal present, is a highly valued and radical alteration in time sense reported in various d-ASCs. Not only is there a great here-and-nowness, a great focus on the present moment, but there is a feeling that the activity or experience of the moment is exactly the right thing that belongs in this moment of time. It is a perfect fit with the state of the universe, a basic that springs from one's ultimate nature. Some of informants in my studies of marijuana intoxication {105} expressed this, in terms of relationships, as no longer being the case of John Smith and Mary Williams walking together in New York City on June 30, 1962, but Man and Woman Dancing Their Pattern Together, as it always has been and always will be.
    The experience of archetypal time is similar to, and may be identical with, the experience of timelessness, of the feeling that my kind of temporal framework for an experience is meaningless. Experiences simply are, they do not seem to take place at a specific time. Samadhi, for example, is described as lasting for an eternity, even though the meditater may be in that d-ASC for only a few seconds. Occasionally in such timeless experiences some part of the mind is perceived as putting a temporal location and duration of the event, but this is seen as meaningless word play that has nothing to do with reality. In some of mystical experiences in d-ASCs, the adjectives timeless and eternal are used almost interchangeably. Eternity probably did not arise as a concept, but as a word depicting an experience of timelessness, an immediate experiential reality rather than a concept of infinite temporal duration.
    Déjà vu, the French phrase meaning "seen before," is a time experience that occasionally happens in the ordinary d-SoC (it may actually represent a momentary transition into a d-ASC) and happens more frequently in d-ASCs. As an event is unfolding you seem to be remembering it, you are convinced it has happened before because it has the quality of a memory. In discussing the Memory subsystem, we speculated that Déjà vu might sometimes result from a misplacement of the quality "this is a memory" on a current perceptual event. Other types of Déjà vu experiences may represent an alteration of functioning of the Space/time subsystem, where the extra informational quality "this is from the past" is added to current perceptual events.
    The quantitative variations in space perception that occur in the ordinary d-SoC may occur in greatly increased form in d-ASCs. Distances walked, for example, may seem much shorter or much longer than ordinarily. Nor is active movement through space necessary for changes in distance to occur: as you sit and look something, it may seem to recede into the distance or to come closer. Or it may seem to grow larger or smaller.
    Depth is an important quality of spatial experience. A photograph or a painting is usually seen as a two-dimensional, flat representation of what was in reality a three-dimensional scene. Perception of a three-dimensional quality in the two-dimensional painting is attributed to the artist's technical skill. In d-ASCs, the degree of depth in ordinary perceptions may seem to change. Aaronson {88 or 115, ch. 17} notes that in many psychotic states, such as those associated with depression, the world seems flat, the depth dimension seems greatly reduced, while in many valued d-ASCs, such as those induced by psychedelic drugs, the depth dimension seems enhanced, deeper, richer. In some intriguing experiments, Aaronson shows that by artificially altering a hypnotized subject's depth perception through suggestion, to flatter or deeper, he can produce great variations in the subject's moods, and perhaps actually produce d-ASCs by simply changing this basic operation of the Space/Time subsystem.
    The ability to see three-dimensional depth in two-dimensional pictures is an interesting phenomenon reported for marijuana intoxication {105}. The technique my main informant reported is to look at a color picture through a pinhole held right at the eye, so your field of vision includes only the picture, not any other elements. If you are highly intoxicated with marijuana, the picture may suddenly become a three-dimensional scene instead of a flat, two-dimensional one.
    Another d-ASC-associated spatial change is loss of the spatial framework as a source of orientation. Although there are enormous individual differences, some people always keep their orientation in physical space plotted on a mental map; they generally know what direction they are facing, in what direction various prominent landmarks are located. This kind of orientation to the physical spatial framework may simply fade out, not be perceived in d-ASCs, or it may still be perceptible but become a relatively meaningless rather than an important type of information.
    This kind of change can be accompanied by new ways of perceiving space. Lines may become curved instead of straight, for example. Some people report perceiving four or more dimensions in d-ASCs, not as a mathematical construct but as an experiential reality. The difficulties of expressing this in a language evolved from external adaptation to three-dimensional reality are obvious.
    We ordinarily think of space as empty, but in d-ASCs space is sometimes perceived as having a more solid quality, as being filled with "vibrations" or "energy," rather than as being empty. Sometimes experiences believe this to be an actual change in their perception of the space around them; sometimes they perceive it as a projection of internal psychological changes onto their spatial perception.
    Our ordinary concept of space is a visual one, related to maps, lines and grids, visual distances, and diagrams. Space may be organized in other ways. Some marijuana smokers, for example, report that space becomes organized in an auditory way when they are listening to sounds or music with their eyes closed. Others report that tactual qualities determine space.
    I recall a striking evening I once spent with some friends. One of them had just rented a new house, which none of us had seen. We arrived after dark, were blindfolded before entering the house, and spent the next couple of hours exploring the house by movement and touch alone, with no visual cues at all. They concept that gradually evolved of the space of the house without the usual visual organizing cues was vastly different from the subsequent perception of the space when the blindfolds were removed.


Sense of Identity

    We noted earlier that an extra informational "This is a memory" quality is either explicitly or implicitly attached to data coming from the Memory subsystem and that this quality is sometimes attached to non-memory information in consciousness, producing interesting phenomena. The primary function of the Sense of Identity subsystem is to attach a "This is me" quality to certain aspects of experience, to certain information in consciousness, and thus to create the sense of an ego. Presumably semipermanent structures exist incorporating criteria for what the "This is me" quality should be attached to. However, the functioning of the Sense of Identity subsystem varies so greatly, even in the ordinary d-SoC, that I emphasize the extra informational aspects of the "This is me" quality rather than the structures underlying it.
    Any item of information to which the "This is me" quality is attached acquires considerable extra potency and so may arouse strong emotions and otherwise control attention/awareness energy. If I say to you, "The face of someone you don't know, a Mr. Johnson, is ugly and revolting," this information probably will not be very important to you. But if I say to you, "Your face is ugly and revolting," that is a different story! But why do you react so strongly to the latter sentence? True, under some circumstances such a statement might preface more aggressive action, against which you want to defend yourself, but often such a remark prefaces no more than additional words of the same sort; yet, you react to those words as if to actual physical attack.[6] Adding the ego quality to information radically alters the way that information is treated by the system of consciousness as a whole.
    At any given time only some of the contents of awareness are modulated by the ego quality. As I sit writing and pause to glance around the room, I see a large number of objects: they become the contents of my consciousness, but they are not me. The ego quality has not been added to them. Much our experience is just information; it does not have a special ego quality added.
    Another major function of the Sense of Identity subsystem is the exact opposite of its usual function: a denial of the sense of self to certain structures. Because certain of our personal characteristics and mind structures are considered undesirable and/or evoke unpleasant emotions in us, we create blocks and defenses against perceiving them as parts of ourselves. Many of these interdicted structures are culturally determined, many are specific products of personal developmental history and are not widely shared in the culture. So we deny that we have certain characteristics or we project them on to others: I am not quarrelsome, he is!
    I mention this function only in passing, in spite of its enormous importance, for it leads into the vast realm of psychopathology, and is beyond the scope of this book.
    The functioning of the Sense of Identity subsystem is highly variable in the ordinary d-SoC, much more variable than we are ordinarily aware. There are many transient identifications, many short-term modulations of particular information, by the ego feeling. When you read a good novel or see a good movie and empathize with one of the characters, you are adding the ego sense to the information about that character. Empathy is the ability to take in information about another's experiences and treat it as if it were you own. However, a person's degree of control over, and self-awareness of, empathy is highly variable. Lack of control over ability to identify with particular things can cause psychological difficulties. For example, if a shopkeeper treats you brusquely, you may feel hurt and upset about it all day long, even though you know intellectually that he is a brusque person who treats everyone that way. Your ego sense was attached to that particular information and is difficult to detach. Thus, various kinds of stimulus patterns can catch the ego sense and are difficult to disentangle.
    To illustrate the high variability of functioning of the Sense of Identity subsystem, consider how it can be invested in possessions. Suppose you are in New York City, having a "sophisticated" discussion with a friend about the breakdown of social values and the consequent rebellion by young people. Through the window you see some teenagers across the street trashing a car, and, with detachment, you point out to your friend that these unfortunate teenagers are what they are because their parents could not transmit values they lacked themselves. Then you notice it is your car they are trashing, and your feelings of sympathy for those poor teenagers vanish rather quickly!
    Each person has a number of relatively permanent identifications, well-defined experiential and behavioral repertoires that he thinks of as himself. His role in society gives him several of these: he may be a salesman in one situation, a father in another, a lover in another, a patient in another, an outraged citizen in another. Often these various roles demand behaviors and values that are contradictory, but because he identifies strongly with each role at the time he assumes it, he does not think of this other roles, and experiences little conscious conflict. For example, a concentration camp guard who brutalizes his prisoners all day may be known as a loving and doting father at home. This ability to compartmentalize roles is one of the greatest human dilemmas.
    Some roles are situation-specific. Others are so pervasive that they continue to function in situations for which they are not appropriate. For example, if you take your job concerns home with you or to a party where other kinds of experiences and behavior are desired and expected, you have overidentified with a particular role.
    One of a person's most constant, semipermanent identifications is with his body, more precisely, with his body image, the abstract of the data from his body as mediated through the Exteroception, Interoception, and Input-Processing subsystems. This body image he identifies with may or may not have much actual resemblance to his physical body as other people see it. The degree of identification with the body may vary from time to time. When I am ill I am very aware of my physical body and its centrality in my consciousness; when I am healthy and happy I am aware of my body more as a source of pleasure, or I forget it as I become involved in various tasks.
    On the basis of this mass of transient and semipermanent identifications, with various degrees of compartmentalization, each of us believes in something he calls his ego or self. He may assume that this elf is a property of his soul and will live forever. He may vigorously defend this self against slights or other attacks. But what is this ego, this "real" self?
    This difficult question has long plagued philosophers and psychologists. I am intrigued by the Buddhist view that asks you to search your experience to find the basic, permanent parts of it that constitute the essence of your ego. When you do this, you find it hard to identify anything as being, finally, you. You may discern certain long-term constancies in your values, connected sets of memories, but none of these qualifies as an ultimate self. The Buddhist view is that you have no ultimate self, thus you need not defend it. Since it is the ego that suffers, realization that ego is an illusion is supposed to end suffering.
    In terms of the systems approach, we can characterize ego as a continuity and consistency of functioning to which we attach special importance, but which does not have the reality of a solid thing somewhere, which is only a pattern of operation that disappears under close scrutiny. I believe that this view is congruent with the enormous changes that can occur in the sense of self in various d-ASCs. The ego or self is thus a certain kind of extra informational modulation attached to other contents of consciousness. It is not a solid sort of thing, even though there must be some semipermanent structures containing the information criteria for controlling the functioning of this subsystem. A change in the pattern of functioning changes the ego.

    Reports from d-ASCs indicate that the sense of ego can be disengaged from a wide variety of kinds of information and situations to which it is normally attached. Memories, for example, may come into your consciousness accompanied by the feeling that this is your memory, as just information pulled from memory. This can be therapeutically useful for recovering information about traumatic events from a patient who is unable to handle the emotional charge on the events. The sense of ego can also be detached from the body, so that you are associated simply with a body rather than your body. Reaction to pain, for instance, can be altered this way. You may feel a stimulus as just as painful as ordinarily, but you do not get upset about it because you are not being injured. Situations that evoke particular roles may not evoke such roles in d-ASCs. For example, all the necessary stimulus elements may be present for automatically invoking the role of teacher, but in the d-ASC the role does not appear. The sense of ego can be detached from possessions and responsibilities, and even from actions, so that things you do seem not to be your actions for which you are responsible, but just actions.
    Sometimes the sense of ego is detached from several or all of the above concepts so that you feel entirely egoless for a while. There is experience, but none of it is "possessed" by you in any special ego sense.
    The converse effect can also occur in d-ASCs: the sense of ego may be added to things it is not ordinarily attached to. A situation, for example, may call for a certain role that is not important to you ordinarily but which you come to identify with strongly.
    This detachment and addition of the ego sense that accompanies d-ASCs may result in actions that are later regretted when the ordinary d-SoC returns. In our culture, the classic case is the person who behaves while drunk as he would never behave sober. A certain amount of social tolerance exists for drunken behavior, so while some people have profound regrets on realizing what they did, others are able to compartmentalize these experiences and not be particularly bothered by them.
    These large shifts in ego sense in d-ASCs may later modify the ordinary d-SoC functioning of the Sense of Identity subsystem. When things you firmly identify with in the ordinary d-SoC are experienced in a d-ASC as detached from you, your conviction of their permanence is undermined and remains so when you resume your ordinary d-SoC. You are then receptive to other possibilities.
    Since attachment of the sense of ego to certain information greatly increases the power of that information, these large shifts in Sense of Identity subsystem functioning can have profound consequences. For example, if the sense of ego is used to modulate most information about another person, you may feel united with that person. The usual ego-object dichotomy is broken. If your sense of being an ego separate from other things is greatly reduced or temporarily abolished in a d-ASC, you may feel much closer to another person because there is no you to be separate from him. The other may be a perceived, real person or a concept religiously respected person, a saint, or god, you may have a mystical experience in which you feel identified with something greater than yourself.
    It is important to note, however, that the expansive or contractive change in the Sense of Identity subsystem that allows identification with something greater than/or outside oneself can have negative consequences and can be used to manipulate others. Group procedures at some religious meetings or political rallies, such as the Nazis held, illustrate how an intense emotional state can be generated which disrupts the stabilization of the ordinary d-SoC and leaves it vulnerable to psychological pressure to identify with the cause being promoted. Whether the cause is that of the Nazi party or of Christian salvation, the method is manipulation, playing on a subject's ignorance to disrupt his d-SoC and then reprogramming him.
    These negative aspects should be emphasized, for too many people who have had good experiences in d-ASCs tend to think d-ASCs are inherently good. Consider, therefore, one more example, that of the berserkers. The English word berserk, meaning "violently running amuck, killing and slaying at random," comes from the Scandinavian word berserker, referring to groups in medieval times who took a psychedelic drug in order to become better killers. Tradition has it that these Vikings, to whom raiding and killing was a respectable way of life, ingested Amanita muscaria, a mushroom with psychedelic properties, under ritual conditions (patterning forces) to induce a day-long d-ASC in which they became exceptionally ferocious killers and fighters, carried away by rage and lust, supposedly impervious to pain, an possessed of extra strength. Such a d-ASC experience hardly creates "flower children."
    Additionally we should note that the semiconstancy of the consensus reality we live in imposes a fair degree of consistency on the kinds of experiences and contents of consciousness to which the Sense of Identity subsystem attaches the ego quality. Every morning you awaken with an apparently identical body; people call you by the same name; they have relatively fixed expectations of you; they reward you for fulfilling those expectations; you are usually surrounded by a fair number of possessions that reinforce your sense of identity. As long as these consensus reality conditions remain relatively constant, you can easily believe in the constancy of your ego. But if these props for your Sense of Identity are changed, as they sometimes are deliberately as a way of destabilizing the b-SoC in preparation for inducing a d-ASC, your sense of ego can change radically. An example familiar to some readers is induction into the army: you are stripped of personal possessions, including clothes; all your ordinary social roles are gone; your name is replaced by a number or a rank; and you are "reeducated" to be a good soldier. Induction into the army and induction into a d-ASC have much in common, but because the army is a well-known subset of consensus reality it is not considered odd, as hypnosis or dreaming are.
    Finally, because of its enormous ability to control emotional and attention/awareness energy, the Sense of Identity subsystem can at times constellate the entire structure of consciousness about particular identity patterns, just as can archetypes (in the Jungian sense) arising from the Collective Unconscious can.


Motor Output

    The Motor Output subsystem consists of those structures which we physically affect the external world and our own bodies. In terms of conscious awareness, these structures are primarily the skeletal, voluntary musculature. If I take a minute out from writing to pet my cat, I am using my Motor Output subsystem with full awareness. The Motor Output subsystem elements that primarily affect our own bodies are glandular secretions and other internal, biological processes. These latter, involuntary effectors are controllable not directly, but through intermediates. I cannot directly increase the amount of adrenaline in my bloodstream, for example, but if I make myself angry and wave my fists and shout and holler, I will almost certainly increase the amount of adrenaline secreted.
    Two kinds of inputs control Motor Output: input from the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem, conscious decisions to do or not to do something, and input from a series of controlling signals that bypasses the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem. The latter includes reflexes (jumping at a sudden sound, for example), emotional reactions, and direct control of Motor Output from the Subconscious subsystem. Subconscious control in the ordinary d-SoC includes qualities added to otherwise conscious gestures that reflect nonconscious mental processes: you may state, for example, that a certain person does not make you angry, but an observer notices that your fists clench whenever this person is mentioned.[7]
    Motor Output operates with almost constant feedback control. By monitoring the environment with the Exteroception subsystem and the body with the Interoception subsystem, you constantly check on the effect of your physical actions and on whether these are desirable and make adjustments accordingly.[8]
    Many voluntary movements are quite unconscious in terms of their details. You decide to lift your arm, yet you have little awareness of the individual muscle actions that allow you to do so. In d-ASCs, greatly increased awareness of particular aspects of the Motor Output subsystem are sometimes reported. Greatly decreased awareness has also been reported: actions that are ordinarily subject to conscious awareness, via feedback from the interoceptors, are done with no awareness at all. During my first experience with a psychedelic drug, mescaline, I told my body to walk down to the end of the hall. Then my awareness became completely absorbed in various internal events. After what seemed a very long time, I was surprised to notice that my body had walked down the hall and obligingly stopped at the end, with no conscious participation or awareness on my part. To some extent this occurs in an ordinary d-SoC, especially with well-learned actions, but the effect can be much more striking in a d-ASC. We should distinguish lack of sensory awareness of body actions from awareness of them but without the sense of ego added. The latter also creates a different relationship with motor actions.
    Deautomatization of motor actions is another sort of altered awareness of motor output that can occur in a d-ASC. Either you become unusually aware of components of automatized actions normally inaccessible to consciousness or you have deliberately to will each of these component actions to take place because the whole automated action will not occur by itself.
    D-ASC related changes in the way the body is experienced via the Exteroception subsystem and in awareness of functioning of the Motor Output subsystem can alter the operating characteristics of voluntary action. You may have to perform a different kind of action internally in order to produce the same kind of voluntary action. Carlos Castaneda {9} gives a striking example of this in a drug-induced d-ASC. His body was completely paralyzed from the "little smoke" in terms of his ordinary way of controlling it. Doing all the things he ordinarily did to move produced zero response. But if he simply willed movement in a certain way, his body responded.
    Changes in the awareness of the functioning of the Motor Output subsystem may include feelings of greatly increased strength or skill, or of greatly decreased strength or skill. Often these feelings do not correspond with performance: you may feel exceptionally weak or unsure of your skill, and yet perform in a basically ordinary fashion. Or you may feel exceptionally strong, but show no actual increase in performance. The potential for a true increment in strength in d-ASCs is real, however, because in the ordinary d-SoC you seldom use your musculature to its full strength. Safety mechanisms prevent you from fully exerting yourself and possibly damaging yourself. For example, some muscles are strong enough to break your own bones if they were maximally exerted. In various d-ASCs, especially when strong emotions are involved, these safety mechanisms may be temporarily bypassed, allowing greater strength, at the risk of damage.
    In a d-ASC the Subconscious subsystem may control the Motor Output subsystem or parts of it. For example, if a hypnotist suggests to a subject that his arm is moving up and down by itself, the arm will do so and the subject will experience the arm moving by itself, without his conscious volition. If a hypnotist suggests automatic writing, the subject's hand will write complex material, with as much skill as in ordinary writing, without any conscious awareness by the subject of what he is going to write and without any feeling of volitional control over the action. This kind of disassociated motor action can also sometimes occur in the ordinary d-SoC, where it may represent the action of a disassociated d-ASC.

    This ends our survey of the main subsystems of states of consciousness. It is only a survey, pointing out the major variations. Much literature already exists from which more specific information about various subsystems can be gleaned, and much research remains to be done to clarify our concepts of particular subsystems. Particularly we need to know exactly how each subsystem changes for each specific d-ASC.
    So we must know our parts better, although I emphasize again that it is just as important to know how these parts are put into the functioning whole that constitutes a system, a d-SoC.


  Figure 8-1 (back)

Figure 8-3 (back)



    [1] Lilly's work {34, 35}, in which a mature person uses the ultimate in sensory deprivation (floating in body-temperature water in the quiet and dark) as a tool, under his own direction, to explore consciousness, should be consulted by anyone interested in this area. Lilly's use of sensory deprivation as a tool under the subject's own control, rather than as a "treatment," imposed by people who are studying "craziness," is a breakthrough in research in this area. Suffice it to note here that sensory deprivation, by removing a major source of loading stabilization by the exteroceptors, can be a major tool for inducing d-ASCs and deserves much study. (back)
    [2] The d-ASC or d-ASCs entered into by spiritualist mediums are a promising, but almost totally neglected field of research. Scientists have generally avoided having anything to do with mediums as a result of a priori dismissal of the claims made for survival of bodily death. The few scientists (parapsychologists) who have studied mediums have been concerned with whether the alleged surviving entities can provide evidence that they actually had an earthly existence, and whether this evidence could be explained by other hypotheses than postmortem survival. The nature of the medium's trance state per se is virtually unknown, yet it is clearly one of the most profound d-ASCs known and has tremendous effects on its experiencers. I mention this to alert researchers to an opportunity for learning a great deal with even a small investment of decent effort. (back)
    [3] Note that while this is probably the cause of most déjà vu, experiences, some kinds of déjà vu, may actually represent paranormal experience. (back)
    [4] Much meaning is automatically supplied by Input-Processing: when you see a stop sign, you need not consciously evaluate its meaning. (back)
    [5] I do not consider right and left hemisphere modes of functioning to be two d-SoCs themselves, but rather two modes of functioning of the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem. The balance can vary in different d-ASCs. (back)
    [6] The old childhood rhyme, "Sticks and stones will break my bones/ But names will never hurt me!/Call me this, and call me that/And call yourself a dirty rat!" must be looked upon as a morale-builder, or perhaps an admonition that we adults should heed, but certainly not as a statement of truth. We are terribly hurt by names and words and what people think of us­often much more hurt than by sticks and stones. People have "chosen" to die in a burning house rather than run out of it naked.(back)
    [7] In relation to subconscious control of movement, Gurdjieff {24} put forth an idea about body movement that is interesting because it parallels the idea of discrete states of consciousness on a body level. He states that any person has only a set number of postures and gestures that he uses of his own will. The number varies from person to person, perhaps as low as fifty, perhaps as high as several hundred. A person moves rapidly, almost jerks, from one preferred posture to another. If he is forcibly stopped in between discrete postures, he is uncomfortable, even if it is not a physical strain. Since the functioning of consciousness seems to be strongly affected by body postures and strains, these "discrete states of posture" (d-SoPs) are important to study.
    Gurdjieff used this as a basis for his "Halt" exercise. Pupils agreed to freeze instantly whenever the command "Halt!" was given. The exercise was intended to show the pupils some of their limitations, among other things. Gurdjieff claims it is a dangerous exercise unless used by someone with an exceptional knowledge of the human body. The idea suggests interesting research possibilities. More information can be found in Ouspensky {48}. (back)
    [8] Conscious control over aspects of bodily functioning long considered to be automatic, not susceptible to voluntary control, is now a major research area under the rubric of biofeedback. The interested reader can find the most important researches reprinted each year in Biofeedback and Self-Control, an annual published by Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago. (back)

Chapter 9

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