Alterations of Consciousness: An Empirical Analysis for Social Scientists

By Hunt, Harry T. | Canadian Psychology, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Alterations of Consciousness: An Empirical Analysis for Social Scientists


Hunt, Harry T., Canadian Psychology


IMANTS BARUSS Alterations of Consciousness: An Empirical Analysis for Social Scientists Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2003, 290 pages (ISBN 1-55798-993-1, US$39.95 Hardcover)

The author's purpose is to review, as a potential undergraduate text for courses on consciousness, the experimental and phenomenological research on alterations of consciousness, ranging from sleep and dreaming to mystical and near-death experience. There is also a clear agenda announced by the book's subtitle, "An Empirical Analysis for Social Scientists." In the view of Baruss, all too often in states of consciousness research a preoccupation with theory has kept investigators from full engagement with the actual data. "It is important for scientists...to learn to rely on the data rather than their predilections, and to go wherever the evidence leads them" (p. 234) - an incontestable statement in itself.

The book, along with the edited review of this literature by Cardena, Lynn, and Krippner, Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence. (2000), also published by the American Psychological Association, and on which Baruss rests much of his discussion, is part of current efforts to re-integrate states of consciousness research with mainstream academic psychology - and perhaps vice versa. This tendency is also reflected in recent multidisciplinary attempts at a more general science of consciousness per se, integrating neuroscience, cognition, phenomenology, artificial intelligence, anthropology, and philosophy, and reflected in journals such as Journal of Consciousness Studies and Consciousness and Cognition and a plethora of conferences and published conference proceedings.

Consistent with the author's stated intentions, Alterations of Consciousness provides readable and at times appropriately controversial discussions of empirical literature on dreaming and lucid dreams, daydreaming and fantasy proneness, hypnosis, dissociative identity disorder, shamanism and possession states, psychedelic drug research, parapsychology, trance-chanelling and mediumship, the alien abduction syndrome, classical mystical experience, out-of-body and near-death experiences, and recent attempts by MacDonald and others to assess individual differences in spirituality through multifactor questionnaires. Certainly an undergraduate following this as a course text will be in for a fascinating and thought-provoking ride - each chapter closing with open-ended questions ostensibly left to the reader as to the potential understanding of findings in terms of materialism versus transcendentalism, delusion versus reality, psychopathology versus positive development, etc.

As with much in life, however, the strength of the book, its stated empiricism, is also its weakness - and this twice over.

First, the breadth of coverage of both recent and past research is too often highly selective. For instance, discussions of experimental research on parapsychology present lengthy accounts of gan/feld and dream telepathy/precognition studies, and, while mentioning methodological critiques in passing, do not state what they might be. The chapter on dream research makes no mention of Solms' widely discussed neurological findings that brings the neuroscience of dreaming back in line with more psychodynamic and holistic cognitive approaches. One would never know of neoFreudian modifications of Freud's original psychoanalytic model of dreaming that have rendered it more open to empirical research. jungian approaches to a possible "archetypal" basis of dreaming are discussed, but with no mention of the empirical literature on an archetypal-mythological style of dreaming and its cognitive and personality correlates. In an apparent effort to warn against current excesses of MDMA usage (Ecstasy), and in contrast to the more balanced account of LSD research, no mention is made of the original development of MDMA as an empathogen in psychotherapy, nor of empirical studies supporting such a connection. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Alterations of Consciousness: An Empirical Analysis for Social Scientists
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.