The Nature of Consciousness
- Consciousness is awareness of the external events and internal sensations, including awareness of the self and thoughts about one’s experiences.
- Stream of Consciousness is James’s concept that the mind is a continuous flow of sensations, images, thoughts, and feelings.
Levels of Awareness
- Five levels of awareness are: higher level consciousness, lower level awareness, altered states of consciousness, subconscious awareness, and no awareness.
Higher Level Consciousness
- Important distinction is between controlled and automatic processes
- Controlled Processes represent the most alert states of human consciousness, in which individuals actively focus their efforts toward a goal.
- In memory, this means being aware that you are trying to remember.
- Requires selective attention, the ability to focus on a specific aspect of experience while ignoring others.
Lower Level Awareness
- Beneath the level of controlled processes are other levels of conscious awareness. Lower levels of awareness include automatic processes and the familiar state of daydreaming
- Automatic Processes
- States of consciousness that require little attention and do not interfere with other ongoing activities.
- Lies somewhere between active consciousness and dreaming while we are asleep.
- Daydreams usually begin spontaneously when we are doing something that requires less than our full attention.
- Mind wandering is probably the most obvious type of daydreaming
- The semiautomatic flow of daydreaming can be useful. As you daydream while you shave, iron a pair of pants, or walk to the store, you make plans, solve a problem, or come up with a creative idea. Daydreams can remind us of important things ahead.
Alternate States of Awareness
- Are mental states that are noticeably different from normal awareness. They can be produced by drugs, trauma, fatigue, possibly hypnosis, and sensory deprivation.
- Waking Subconscious Awareness
- When an idea is incubating, our minds may be processing information even though we are not aware of it. Perhaps, in the absence of conscious connections, ideas simply combine more or less randomly beneath the level of awareness.
- Sleep and Dreams
- When we sleep and dream, our level of awareness is lower than when we daydream, but sleep and dreams are not best regarded as the absence of consciousness.
- They should be viewed as low levels of consciousness.
- In his subconscious mind rational thought could not censor the connection, so when Kekule woke up he could not ignore its possibility.
- Researchers have found that when people are asleep they still remain aware of external stimuli to some degree. For example, in sleep laboratories, when people are clearly asleep, they are able to respond to faint tones by pressing a handheld button
- The term unconscious is generally applied to someone who has been knocked out by a blow, anaesthetized, or fallen into a deep, prolonged unconscious state.
- Freud concluded that our thoughts are unconscious.
- Unconscious thought, said Freud, is a reservoir of unacceptable wishes, feelings, and thoughts that are beyond conscious awareness.
- According to Freud, unconscious thoughts are too laden with anxiety and other negative emotions for consciousness to admit them. For example, if a young man is nervous around women and breaks into a cold sweat when a woman approaches him, he might be unconscious that his fear of women springs from the cold, punitive way his mother treated him when he was a child.
- Freud believed that one of psychotherapy’s main goals was to bring unconscious thoughts into conscious awareness so they could be addressed and treated.
Consciousness and the Brain
- A number of neuroscientists believe that the cerebral cortex, especially its association areas and frontal lobes, are Colleagues stress the role of the frontal lobes in consciousness and assign a special role to the right frontal lobe in self-awareness
- The key to understanding consciousness
- In addition, a number of separate distributed processing systems interconnect to produce consciousness.