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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Charles T. Tart - States of Consciousness (C)


States of Consciousness

    Charles T. Tart

10.   Using Drugs to Induce Altered States



Serious misunderstandings occur when an external technique that might induce a d-ASC is equated with that altered state itself. This error is particularly seductive in regard to psychoactive or psychedelic drugs, for we tend automatically to accept the pharmacological paradigm that the specific chemical nature of the drug interacts with the chemical and physical structure of the nervous system in a lawfully determined way, invariably producing certain results. This view may be mostly true at a neurological or hormonal level, but is misleading at the level of consciousness. Within this paradigm, observed variability in human reactions is seen as the "perverseness" of psychological idiosyncrasies interfering with basic physiological reactions, and is averaged out by treating it as "error variance." While this pharmacological paradigm seems usefully valid for a variety of simple drugs, such as barbiturates that induce drowsiness and sleep, it is inadequate and misleading for the psychedelic drugs, such as marijuana or LSD.

Nondrug Factors

    Figure 10-1 depicts a model of the effects of drugs on consciousness that I developed when I was beginning to study marijuana intoxication {103, 105}. In addition to the physiological effects that constitute disrupting and patterning forces impinging on the subject (upper right portion of the figure), there are a large number of psychological disrupting and patterning forces that are, in many cases, more important than the physiological effects in determining whether a d-ASC will occur and what the content of that altered state will be. Thus while it is useful to know what psychoactive drug a subject has taken, the quantity of the drug, and the method of administration, such information may be relatively unimportant. Without one knowledge of the psychological factors, accurate prediction of the subject's behavioral and experiential reactions maybe very difficult.
    These nondrug factors can be classified in three groups: long-term factors, immediate factors, and factors related to the setting in which the drug is used.
    Long-term factors include (1) the culture the subject was raised in and all the effects that has had in terms of structuring his ordinary d-SoC, and providing specific expectations about the drug; (2) the personality of the subject; (3) possible specific physiological vulnerabilities he may have to the drug; and (4) his learned drug skills—whether he has taken this drug many times before, and learned to enhance desired reactions and inhibit undesired reactions, or is naive with respect to this drug, so that most of his energy will be needed to cope with the (often stressful) effects of the novelty.
    Immediate factors are (5) the subject's mood when he takes the drug, since this mood may be amplified or inhibited; (6) the subject's expectations about the experience; and (7) whether these expectations are the same as what he desires to experience.
    Factors related to the situation or experimental setting in which the drug is taken include (8) the physical setting and its effect on the subject; (9) the social setting and its effect—the kinds of people who are with the subject and how they interact with him (a frightened person present, for example, may communicate his fright sufficiently to make the effect of the drug quite anxiety-provoking); (10) in the case of an experiment, the formal instructions given to the subject and how he reacts to and interprets them; and (11) the demand characteristics {45, 55}, the implicit instructions, and how they affect the subject (for example, if the experimenter tells the subject the drug is relatively harmless, but asks him to sign a comprehensive medical release form, the total message communicated belies the statement that this is a relatively harmless drug).
    Further, the subject or user is not just a passive recipient of all these forces, reacting mechanically. He may selectively enhance the action of some and inhibit others. If the social situation is "bringing you down," you can leave. If you feel unsettled and unsure of your control, you can choose to use only a small amount of the drug. If certain aspects of the situation are unsettling, you can try not to focus attention on them but on more pleasant or useful aspects of the situation. This aspect is indicated by the feedback arrow in Figure 10-1.
    Since, as discussed earlier, as person's control of his attention and energy is limited, to some extent he is at the mercy of the various factors diagrammed in Figure 10-1. In the experimental situation particularly, the subject usually has no control at all over most of these factors and so is at their mercy. This is important because so much of our scientific knowledge in this area is based on experimental studies of drugs—studies that might be assumed to be the most dependable. Unfortunately, a close reading of the experimental literature on drugs suggests that most experimenters were not only unaware of the importance of the psychological factors diagrammed in Figure 10-1, and so failed to report them, but usually set up the experiment in a way that maximized the probability of bad trips, of anxiety-filled unpleasant reactions.
    This situation is summarized in Table 10-1. The values of drug and psychological factors listed in the rightmost column are those that increase the probability of a bad trip; those in the third left column, a good trip. Knowing that the values of some of three factors are in one of the other direction has little predictive value at the present stage of our knowledge, but knowing that most of them are in one direction allows fair prediction. I infer (sometimes from the published description per se, sometimes from reading between the lines of talking to former subjects) that in the more than one thousand scientific experiments on drug-induced d-ASCs reported in the literature that most experiments had most of the determining factors in the bad trip direction. Thus most of our scientific knowledge about drug effects is badly confused with effects of coping with the stress of a bad trip.

Physiological and Psychological Effects

    Given this cautionary note on the complexity of using drugs to induce d-ASCs, a few general things can be said about drug-induced states in terms of the systems approach.
    Particular drugs may specifically affect the neurological bases of various psychological structures/subsystems, exciting or activating some of these structures/subsystems, suppressing or slowing the activity of other structures/subsystems, altering or distorting the mode of information-processing within some structures/subsystems. Psychological processes in relatively unaffected structures/subsystems may, however, compensate for changes in affected subsystems and/or maintain sufficient stabilization processes so that the d-SoC does not break down. The drug may both disrupt and pattern on a physiological level, but not necessarily induce a d-ASC. Remember that a d-SoC is multiply stabilized.
    When physiological effects occur in various structures/subsystems, their interpretation by the subject determines much of his (multilevel) reaction and whether a d-ASC results. Changing the interpretation of a sensation alters its importance and the degree of attention/awareness energy it attracts. For example, if you consider a tingling sensation in your limbs "just" a dull feeling from "tiredness," you handle it differently than if you interpret it to mean that you are getting high, that the drug is beginning to work.
    An excellent example comes from marijuana use. Most marijuana smokers have to learn how to achieve the d-ASC we refer to as marijuana intoxication or being stoned. Typically, the first few times a person smokes marijuana, he feels an occasional isolated effect like tingling, but the overall pattern of his consciousness stays quite ordinary and he usually wonders why others make so much fuss about a drug that has so little effect. With the assistance of more experienced drug users, who suggest he focus his attention on certain kinds of happenings or try to have certain specified kinds of experiences, additional psychological factors, patterning and disrupting forces, are brought to bear to disrupt the ordinary d-SoC and pattern the d-ASC. Often the transition takes place quite suddenly, and the smoker finds that he is now stoned. This is a good illustration of how the physiological action of the marijuana disrupts many of the ordinary feedback stabilization processes of the ordinary d-SoC, but too few to destabilize and alter the d-SoC.
    The fact that a naive user can smoke enormous amounts of marijuana the first several times without getting stoned, and then easily get stoned with a tenth as much drug once he has learned how, is paradoxical to pharmacologists. They call it the reverse tolerance effect. This effect is not at all puzzling in terms of the systems approach. It simply means that the physiological disrupting and patterning effects of the drug per se are generally not sufficient to destabilize the b-SoC. Once the user knows how to deploy his attention/awareness properly, however, this deployment needs only a small boost from the physiological effects of the drug to finally destabilize the b-SoC and pattern the d-ASC—being stoned.
    Indeed, the placebo response of getting stoned on marijuana from which the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main and perhaps only active ingredient) has been extracted may not illustrate the idea that some people are hypersuggestible so much as the fact that psychological factors are the main components of the d-ASC associated with marijuana use.
    We should also note that it is a common experience for marijuana users {105} to say they can come down at will, that if they find themselves in a situation they feel unable to cope with adequately while in the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication, they can deliberately suppress most or all the effects and temporarily return almost instantly to the ordinary d-SoC. By psychological methods alone they can disrupt the altered state and pattern their ordinary state into existence: yet the same amount of THC is still circulating in their bloodstreams.
    A third and quite striking example of the importance of psychological factors in determining whether a drug produces a d-ASC comes from a review by Snyder {60} for the attempts to use marijuana in medicine in the nineteenth century:
It is striking that so many of these medical reports fail to mention any intoxicating properties of the drug. Rarely, if ever, there an indication that patients—hundreds of thousands must have received cannabis in Europe in the nineteenth century—were "stoned," or changed their attitudes toward work, love, their fellow men, or their homelands...When people see their doctor about a specific malady they expect a specific treatment and do not anticipate being "turned on."

    Apparently, then, unless you have the right kinds of expectations and a "little help from your friends," it is unlikely that marijuana will produce a d-ASC. Equating the inhalation of marijuana with the existence of a d-ASC is a tricky business.
    This should not be interpreted to mean that marijuana is a weak drug, however. Some people fail to respond to large doses of far more powerful drugs like LSD.

Major Psychedelic Drugs

    The results of using the very powerful drugs, like LSD, mescaline, or psilocybin, are extremely variable. Almost everyone who takes these more powerful psychedelic drugs experiences a disruption of his ordinary d-SoC. The primary effect of the powerful psychedelic drugs is to disrupt the stabilization processes of the ordinary d-SoC so that d-SoC breaks down. But, while there is a great deal of commonality of experience among marijuana users (at least in our cultural setting) {105}, so that it is useful to speak of the "marijuana state" as a distinctive d-ASC across users, the variability of experience with powerful psychedelics is so great that there seems to be no particular d-ASC necessarilyproduced by them. Rather, a highly unstable condition develops characterized by temporary association of scattered functions in the third part of Figure 7-1 illustrates this. There is a continuous transition between various kinds of unstable conditions. The colloquial phrase tripping is appropriate: one is continually going somewhere, but never arriving.[1]
    While this is probably true for most experience with powerful psychedelics in our culture, it is not universally true. Carlos Castaneda's accounts of his work with Don Juan {9-12} indicate that Castaneda's initial reactions to psychedelic drugs were of this tripping sort. But Don Juan was not interested in having him trip. Among other things, Don Juan tried to train Castaneda to stabilize the effects of the psychedelic drugs so that he could get into particular d-ASCs suited to particular kinds of tasks at various times. Thus, the addition of further psychological patterning forces to the primarily disruptive forces caused by psychedelic drugs enables development of d-ASCs with particularly interesting properties.
    Meanwhile, we should avoid terms like "the LSD state." We should not believe that the statement, "X took LSD" (or any powerful psychedelic drug), tells us much about what happened to X's consciousness. Indeed, a statement like "subjects were administered 1.25 micrograms of LSD per kilogram of body weight," commonly found in the experimental literature, is especially misleading because it seems so precise. It must be replaced by statements like "subject number 2 was administered such and such as dose of LSD, which then produced a d-ASC of type X, while subject number 3 did not enter a d-ASC with the same dose of LSD."
    I want to emphasize that I am in no way downgrading the potential value of psychedelic drug experiences simply because they probably seldom become stable d-ASCs in our culture. When used under the right circumstances by individuals who have been prepared, psychedelic drug experiences can be very valuable. Perhaps the most basic value is simply the total, experiential demonstration that other modes of awareness exist, that the ordinary d-SoC is only one of the many possible ways of structuring the mind. Specific insights into a person's ordinary self, which are valuable for therapy and growth, can also occur, and data and ideas about the nature of the mind can be obtained. This book is not the place to discuss the growth and therapeutic use of psychedelics: the interesting reader should consult several chapters in Altered States of Consciousness {88 or 115}.

Footnote


    [1] Alternatively, this variability can be interpreted as indicating very rapid transitions from one d-SoC of a few seconds' duration to another, to another, etc., but as discussed earlier, a d-SoC cannot be readily studied unless it lasts for a while. (back)Table 10-1. (back)
 
Table 10-1
Values of Variables for Maximizing Probability of Good or Bad Trip

 VariablesGood Trip LikelyBad Trip Likely

Drug factorsQualityPure, knownUnknown drug or unknown
  degree of (harmful) adulterants
 QuantityKnown accurately, adjusted
  to individual's desire
Unknown, beyond
  individual's control
Long-term factorsCultureAcceptance, belief
  in benefits
Rejection, belief in
  detrimental effects
 PersonalityStable, open, secureUnstable, rigid, neurotic,
  or psychotic
 PhysiologyHealthySpecific adverse vulnerability
  to drug
Learned drug skillsWide experience gained
  under supportive conditions
Little or no experience or
  preparation, unpleasant
  past experience
Immediate factorsMoodHappy, calm, relaxed,
  or euphoric
Depressed, overexcited,
  repressing significant emotions
 ExpectationsPleasure, insight, known
  eventualitites
Danger, harm, manipulation,
  unknown eventualities
 DesiresGeneral pleasure, specific
  user-accepted goals
Aimlessness, (repressed)
  desires to harm or degrade
  self for secondary gains
Experiment or
  situation fctors
Physical settingPleasant and esthetically
  interesting by user's
  standards
Cold, impersonal,"medical,"
  "psychiatric," "hospital,"
  "scientific"
 Social eventsFriendly, nonmanipulative
  interactions overall
Depersonalization or
  manipulation of the user,
  hostility
 Formal instructionsClear, understandable,
  creating trust and
  purpose
Ambiguous, dishonest,
  creating mistrust
 Implicit demandsCongruent with explicit
  communications,
  supportive
Contradictory to explicit
  communications and/or
  reinforcing other negative
  variables

============


11.   Observation of Internal States



Observation of internal events is often unreliable and difficult. Focusing on external behavior or physiological changes in useful, but experiential data are primary in d-SoCs. We must develop a more precise language for communicating about such data.
    Observing oneself means that the overall system must observe itself. Thus, in the conservative view of the mind self-observation is inherently limited, for the part cannot comprehend the whole and the characteristics of the parts affect their observation. In the radical view, however, in which awareness is partially or wholly independent of brain structure, the possibility exists of an Observer much more independent of the structure.
    Introspection, the observation of one's own mental processes, and the subsequent communication of these observations to others have long been major problems in psychology. To build a general scientific understanding requires starting from a general agreement on what are the facts, what are the basic observations across individuals on which the science can be founded. Individuals have published interesting and often beautiful accounts of their own mental processes in the physiological literature, but analysis of these accounts demonstrates little agreement among them and little agreement among the analyzers that the accounts are precise descriptions of observable mental processes. Striving for precise understanding is an important goal of science.
    One reaction to this has been behaviorism, which ignores mental processes and declares that external behavior, which can be observed more easily and reliably, is the subject matter of psychology. Many psychologists still accept the behavioristic position and define psychology as the study of behavior rather than the study of the mind. That way is certainly easier. One hundred percent agreement among observers is possible, at least for simple behaviors. For example, in testing for susceptibility to hypnosis with the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale {144}, the examiner suggests to the subject that his arm is feeling heavier and heavier and will drop because of the increased weight. The hypnotists and observers present can easily agree on whether the subject's arm moves down at least twelve inches within thirty seconds after the end of the suggestion.
    Behaviorism is an extremely valuable tool for studying simple behaviors, determining what affects them, and learning how to control them. But it has not been able to deal well with complex and important human experiences, such as happiness, love, religious feelings, purposes. The behavioristic approach is of particularly limited value in dealing with d-ASCs because almost all the interesting and important d-ASC phenomena are completely internal. A behavioristic approach to the study of a major psychedelic drug like LSD, for example, would lead to the conclusion that LSD is a sedative or tranquilizer, since the behavior frequently produced is sitting still and doing nothing!
    If we are to understand d-SoCs, introspection must become an important technique in psychology in spite of the difficulties of its application. I have primarily used peoples' reports of their internal experiences in developing the systems approach, even though these reports are undoubtedly affected by a variety of biases, limitations, and inadequacies, for such reports are the most relevant data for studying d-SoCs.
    I believe psychology's historical rejection of introspection was premature: in the search for general laws of the mind, too much was attempted too soon. Mental phenomena are the most complex phenomena of all. The physical sciences, by comparison, deal with easy subject matter. We can be encouraged by the fact that many spiritual psychologies {128} have developed elaborate vocabularies for describing internal experiences. I do not understand these psychologies well enough to evaluate the validity of these vocabularies, but it is encouraging that others, working over long periods, have at least developed such vocabularies. The English language is well suited for making reliable discriminations among everyday external objects, but it is not a good language for precise work with physical reality. The physical sciences have developed specialized mathematical languages for such work that are esoteric indeed to the man in the street. Sanskrit, on the other hand, has many presumably precise words for internal events and states that do not translate well into English. There are over twenty words in Sanskrit, for example, which carry different shades of meaning in the original. Development of a more precise vocabulary is essential to progress in understanding consciousness and d-SoCs. If you say you feel "vibrations" in a d-ASC, what precisely do you mean?

The Observer

    In science the word observation usually refers to scrutiny of the external environment, and the observer is taken for granted. If the observer is recognized as possessing inherent characteristics that limit his adequacy to observe, these specific characteristics are compensated for, as by instrumentally aiding the senses or adding some constant to the observation; again the observer is taken for granted. In dealing with the microworld, the particle level in physics, the observer cannot be taken for granted, for the process of observation alters the phenomena being observed. Similarly, when experiential data are used to understand states of consciousness, the observation process cannot be taken for granted.
    For the system to observe itself, attention/awareness must activate structures that are capable of observing processes going on in other structures. Two ways of doing this seem possible, which we shall discuss as pure cases, even though they may actually be mixed. The first way is to see the system breaking down into two semi-independent systems, one of which constitutes the observer and the other the system to be observed. I notice, for example, that I am rubbing my left foot as I write and that this action seems irrelevant to the points I want to make. A moment ago I was absorbed in the thinking involved in the writing and in rubbing my foot, but some part of me then stepped back for a moment, under the impetus to find an example to illustrate the current point, and noticed that I was rubbing my foot. The "I" who observed that I was rubbing my foot is my ordinary self, my personality, my ordinary d-SoC. The major part of my system held together, but temporarily singled out a small, connected part of itself to be observed. Since I am still my ordinary self, all my characteristics enter into the observation. There is no objectivity to my own observation of myself. My ordinary self, for example, is always concerned with whether what I am doing is useful toward attaining my short-term and long-term goals; thus the judgment was automatically made that the rubbing of the foot was a useless waste of energy. Having immediately classified foot-rubbing as useless, I had no further interesting in observing it more clearly, seeing what it was like. The observation is mixed with evaluation; most ordinary observation is of this nature.
    By contrast, many meditative disciplines take the view that attention/awareness can achieve a high degree or even complete independence from the structures that constitute a person's ordinary d-SoC and personality, that a person possesses (or can develop) an Observer that is highly objective with respect to the ordinary personality because it is an Observer that is essentially pure attention/awareness, that has no judgmental characteristics of its own. If the Observer had been active, I might have observed that I was rubbing my foot, but there would have been no structure immediately activated that passed judgment on this action. Judgment, after all, means relatively permanent characteristics coded in structure to make comparisons against. The Observer would simply have noted whatever was happening without judging it.
    The existence of the Observer or Witness is a reality to many people, especially those who have attempted to develop such an Observer by practicing meditative disciplines, and I shall treat it as an experiential reality.
    The question of its ultimate reality is difficult. If one starts from the conservative view of the mind, where awareness is no more than a product of the nervous system and brain, the degree of independence or objectivity of the Observer can only be relative. The Observer may be a semi-independent system with fewer characteristics than the overall system of consciousness as a whole, but it is dependent on the operation of neurologically based structures and so is ultimately limited and shaped by them; it is also programmed to some extent in the enculturation process. Hilgard {26} has found the concept of such a partially dissociated Observer useful in understanding hypnotic analgesia.
    In the radical view of the mind, awareness is (or can become) different from the brain and nervous system. Here partial to total independence of, and objectivity with respect to, the mind/brain can be attained by the Observer. The ultimate degree of this objectivity then depends on whether awareness per se, whatever its ultimate nature is, has properties that limit it.
    It is not always easy to make this clear distinction between the observer and the Observer. Many times, for example, when I am attempting to function as a Observer, I Observe myself doing certain things, but this Observation immediately activates some aspect of the structure of my ordinary personality, which then acts as an observer connected with various value judgment that are immediately activated. I pass from the function of Observing from outside the system to observing from inside the system, from what feels like relatively objective Observation to judgmental observation by my conscience or superego.
    Some meditative disciplines, as in the vipassana meditation discussed earlier, strive to enable their practitioners to maintain the Observer for long periods, possibly permanently. The matter becomes rather complex, however, because a major job for the Observer is to Observe the actions of the observer: having Observed yourself doing some action, you then Observe your conscience become activated, rather than becoming completely caught up in the conscience observation and losing the Observer function. Such self-observation provides much data for understanding the structure of one's own consciousness. For a comprehensive discussion of this method of understanding, I refer the reader to Riodan's and Goleman's chapter in Transpersonal Psychologies {128}.

Self-Observation During Transition Periods

    The distinction between these two kinds of observers is important in considering the transition period between two d-SoCs. If we ask questions about what phenomena are experienced during the transition period, we must ask who is going to make these experiential observations for us. Since the ordinary observer is the structure, then the radical destructuring necessary for transition into a d-ASC eliminates the ability to observe. At worst, if there is total destructuring we can expect no direct experiential observation of the transitional period, perhaps only a feeling of blankness. Such blackouts are often reported.
    Yet people do report transitional experiences. Destructuring of the b-SoC may not be total, certain parts of it may hold together a subsystems through the transition period, partial observations may be made by these subsystems, and such observations are recoverable on return to the b-SoC or in the d-ASC. But the observations are necessarily limited and incomplete, since they come from a partially incapacitated observer.
    Now consider the role of the Observer, if it is well developed in a particular person, during the transition from one d-SoC to another. Because the Observer is either not at all based in particular structures, only partially based in particular structures, or based in structures that are not part of the b-SoC undergoing destructuring, it should be able to observe transitional phenomena. Exactly this sort of phenomenal report has come from reporters who feel they have a fairly well-developed Observer. They believe this Observer can make essentially continuous observations not only within a particular d-SoC but during the transition among two or more d-SoCs.
    For example, Evans-Wentz {17} describes the following Tibetan yogic exercise for comprehending the nature of dreaming:
That which hath been called "the initial comprehending of the dream," refereth to resolving to maintain unbroken continuity of consciousness throughout both the waking-state and the dream-state...sleep on the right side, as a lion doth. With the thumb and ring-finger of the right hand press the pulsation of the throat-arteries; stop the nostrils with the fingers (of the left and); and let the saliva collect in the throat.

    Evans-Wentz comments:
As a result of these methods, the yogin enjoys as vivid consciousness in the dream-state as in the waking-state; and in passing from one state in another experiences no break in the continuity of memory.

    I can say no more about the nature of the Observer here because we know so little about it in our Western scientific tradition. However, I think it is extremely important to find out to what extent the Observer's apparent objectivity is a reality and to what extent a fiction. Insofar as it is a reality, it offers an objectivity and a possible escape from cultural consensus reality conditionings that are highly important.
    I must, however, caution the reader against taking this discussion of the Observer too concretely. I am using words to describe a certain kind of experience, but the words are not the experience. As Korzybski said: "The map is not the territory." Unfortunately, we not only habitually mistake the map for the territory, we prefer the map to the territory—it is so much clearer! I find it difficult to express the concept of Observing, and words can do no more than create analogies that point to aspects of your own experiences. The termObserver is a way of referring to an important aspect of experience, a process, but we must not become too attached to the concept of one "thing" separate from and observing another "thing."



   12.   Identity States



Self-observation, observation of others, and psychoanalytic data indicate that various stimuli can produce marked reorgnaizations of ego functioning very rapdily, even though these all remain within the consensus reality definitions of "normal" consciousness. These identity states are much like d-SoCs and can be sutdied in the systems approach framework. They are hard to observe in ordinary life because of the ease and rapidity of transiton, their emotional charge, and other reasons. The isolation of knowledge and experience in various identity states is responsible for much of the psychopathology of everyday life.

Definition of Identity States

    The concept of d-SoCs comes to us in commonsense form, as well as in terms of my initial research interests, from people's experiences of radically altered states of consciousness—states like drunkenness, dreaming, marijuana intoxication, certain meditative states. These represent such radical shifts in the patterning, the system properties of consciousness, that most people experiencing them are forced to notice that the state of their consciousness is quite different, even if they are poor observers. A person need not have developed an Observer in order to notice such a change in his state of consciousness: so many things are so clearly different that the observation is forced on him.
    Although this is the origin and the main focus of the concept of d-SoCs, the systems approach is applicable to important variations occurring within the overall pattern we call the ordinary d-SoC, variations that can be termed identity states. My own self-observation and much scattered psychological data, particulary data gathered in the course of psychoanalytic investigations, indicate that as different situations impinge on a person and activate different emotional drives, distinct changes in the organization of his ego can take place. Certain drives become inhibited or activated, and the whole constellation of psychological functioning alters its configuration around them.
    The most cogent formulation of these data into a comprehensive picture is that of the Armenian philosopher and spiritual teacher, George Gurdjieff. The following selection from Ouspensky's report of Gurdjieff's early lectures {48, pp. 59-60} expresses Gurdjieff's idea that we have many "I's," many little egos:
    "One of man's important mistakes," he said, "one which must be remembered, is his illusion in regard to his I.
    "Man such as we know him, the 'man machine,' the man who cannot 'do,' and with whom and through whom everything 'happens,' cannot have a permanent and single I. His I changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings, and moods, and he makes a rpofound mistake in considering himself always one and the same person; in reality he is always a different person, not the one he was a moment ago.
    "Man has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought, every mood, every deisre, every sensation, says 'I.' And in each case it seems to be taken for granted that this I belongs o the Whole, to the whole man, and that a thought, a desire, or an aversion is expressed by this Whole. In actual fact there is no foudnation whatever for this assumption. Man's every thought and desire appears and lives quite separately and independently of the Whole. And the Whole never expresses itself, for the simple reason that it exists, as such, only physically as a thing, and in the abstract as a concept. Man has no individual I. But there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small I's, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking 'I.' And each time his I is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man's name is legion.
    "The alternation of I's, their continual obvious struggle for supremacy, is controlled by accidental external influences. Warmth, sunshine, fine weather, immediately call up a whole group of I's. Cold, fog, rain, call up another group of I's, other associations, other feelings, other actions. There is nothing in man able to control this change of I's, chiefly because man does not notice, or know of it; he lives always in the last I. Some I's, of course, are stronger than others. But it is not hteir own conscious strength; they have been created by the strength of accidnets or mechanical external stimuli. Education, imitation, reading, the hypnotism of religion, caste, and traditions, or the glamour of new slogans, create very strong I's in man's personality, which dominate whole series of other, weaker, I's. But their strength is the dtrength of the 'rolls'[1] in the centers. "And all I's making up a man's personality have the same origin as these 'rolls'; they are the results of external influences; and both are set in motion and controlled by fresh external influences.
    "Man has no individuality. He has no single, big I. Man is divided into a multiplicity of small I's.
    "And each separate small I is able to call itself by the name of the Whole, to act in the name of the Whole, to agree or disagree, to give promises, to make decisions, with which another I or the Whole will have to deal. This explains why people so often make decisions and so seldom carry them out. A man decides to get up early beginning from the following day. One I, or a group of I's, decide this. but getting up is the business of another I who entirely disagrees with the decision and may even know absolutely nothing about it. Of course the man will again go on sleeping in the morning and in the evening he will again decide to get up early. In some cases this may assume very unpleasant consequences for a man. A small accidental I may promise something, not to itself, but to someone else at a certain moment simply out of vanity or for amusement. Then it disappears, but the man, that is, the whole combination of other I's who are quite innocent of this, may have to pay for it all his life. It is the tragedy of the human being that any small I has the right to sign checks and promissory notes and the man, that is, the Whole, has to meet them.
    People's whole lives often consist in paying off the promissory notes of small accidental I's."
    Gurdjieff's concept of these rapdily alternating I's is similar to the systems approach concept of d-SoCs. If we call each I an identity state, then each (1) has an overall pattern of functioning, a gestalt, which gives it a system identity and distinguishes it from other identity states; (2) is composed of structures/subsystems, psychological functions, skills, memories; (3) possesses unique properties not present in other identity states; (4) presumably has some stabilizing processes, although apparently fewer than the ordinary d-SoC as a whole, since identity states can change so rapdily; (5) functions as a tool for coping with the world, with varying degrees of effectiveness; and (6) requires an induction process to transit from one identity state to another, a requisite stimulus to bring on a new identity state.
    These alterations in functioning that I call identity states can thus be usefully studied with the systems approach to consciousness. Yet they are almost never identified as d-SoCs in ordinary people, for several reasons.
    First, each person has a large repertoire of these identity states and transits between one and another of them extremely readily, practically instantly. Thus, no obvious lapses or transitional phenomena occur that would make him likely to notice the transitions.
    Second, all these identity states share much psychological functioning in common, such as speaking English, responding to the same proper name, wearing the same sets of clothes. Thse many common properties amke differences difficult to notice.
    Third, all a person's ordinarily used identity states share in his culturally defined consensus reality. Although certain aspects of reality are emphasized by particular identity states, the culture as a whole implicitly allows a wide variety of identity states in its definitions of "normal" consciousness and consensus reality. Within the cultural consensus reality, for example, there are well-understood concepts, perceptions, and allowed behaviors associated with being angry, being sad, feeling sexual desire, being afraid.
    Fourth, a person's identification is ordinarily very high, complete, with each of these identity states. He projects the feeling of "I" onto it (the Sense of Identity subsystem function discussed in Chapter 8). This, coupled with the culturally instilled need to believe that he is a single personality, causes him to gloss over distinctions. Thus he says, "am angry," "Iam sad," rather than, "A state of sadness has organized mental functioning differently from a state of anger." The culture also reinforces a person for behaving as if he were a unity.
    Fifth, identity states are driven by needs, fears, attachments, defensive, maneuvers, coping mechanisms, and this highly charged quality of an identity state makes it unlikely that the person involved will be engaged in self-observation.
    Sixth, many identity states have, as a central focus, emotional needs and drives that are socially unacceptable or only partially acceptable. Given the fact that people need to feel accepted, an individual may have many important reasons for not noticing that he has discrete identity states. Thus, when he is in a socially "normal" identity state, being a good person, he may be unable to be aware of a different identity state that sometimes occurs in which he hates his best friend. The two states are incompatible, so automatized defense mechanisms (Gurdjieff calls them buffers) prevent him from being aware of the one identity state while in the other. This is, in systems approach terminology, state-specific knowledge. Ordinarily, special psychotherapists techniques are required to make a person aware of these contradictory feelings and identity states within himself. Meditative practices designed to create the Observer also facilitate this sort of knowledge.
    The development of an Observer can allow a person considerable access to observing different identity states. An outside observer can often clearly infer different identity states, but a person who has not developed the Observer function well may never notice his many transitions from one identity state to another. Thus ordinary consciousness, or what society values as "normal" consciousness, may actually consist of a large number of d-SoCs, identity states. But the overall similarities between these identity states and the difficulty of observing them, for the reasons discussed above, lead us to think of ordinary consciousness as relatively unitary state.
    Gurdjieff sees the rapid, unnoticed transitions between identity states, and their relative isolation from one another, as the major cause of the psychopathology of everyday life. I agree with him, and believe this topic deserves intensive psychological research.

Functions of Identity States

    An identity state, like a d-SoC, has coping functions. The culture a person is born into actively inhibits some of his human potentials, as well as developing some. Thus, even in the most smoothly functioning cultures, there is bound to be some disharmony, some conflict between a person's emerging and potential self and he demands placed on him to which he must conform in one way or another if he is to survive in that social environment. The psychopathology of everyday life is abundantly obvious and has been amply documented by psychological studies.
    At the fringes of consciousness, then, there is a vast unknown, not simply of relatively neutral potentials that never developed, but of emotionally and cognitively frightening things, conflicts that were never resolved, experiences that did not fit consensus reality, feelings that were never expressed, problems that were never faced. Immersion is consensus reality in the oridnary d-SoC is a protection from this potentially frightening and overwhelming unknown; it is the safe, cultivated clearing in the dark, unexplored forest of the mind.
    An identity state is a specialized version of the ordinary d-SoC, a structure acceptable to consensus reality (ignoring obviously pathological identity states). The extrainformational "This is me" quality from the Sense of Identity subsystem added to certain contents/structures constellates the energies of consciousness around them and produces an identity, a role[2] that a person partially or completely identified with for the time. The identity "eats energy."
    A particular identity state thus acts as loading stabilization for the oridnary d-SoC; it absorbs much available energy that might otherwise activate unknown and perhaps implicitly feared contents that are not acceptable. When you "know" who are, when you take on an identity state, then you immediately have criteria for dealing with various situations. If I am a "father" in this moment I know that certain things are expected and desired of me and I can cope well within that framework with situations involving my children. If the situation changes and I now become a "professor," then I have a new set of rules on how to cope with situations involving people who have identified with the roles of "students."
    Some of a person's most important problems arise when his is in an identity state that is not really suited to the situation: my children are unhappy when I am a professor when they want a father, and I am not comfortable when my students want me to be like a father when I think the role of professor is more appropriate.
    Being caught in a situation in which one has no ready role to use and identify with is unusual. For most people such situations can be lightly confusing or frightening, since they do not know how to think or act. They can bcome susceptible to any authority who offers ready-made roles/solutions in such situations. If the country is "going to hell" and nobody seems to have any answer, it may feel much better to be a "patriot" and blame "traitors" than to live with your confusion. On the other hand, lack of an immediately available role can offer a unique opportunity to temporarily escape from the tyranny of roles.
    Once a person has identified with a role, the resulting identity state stabilizes his d-SoC not only through loading stabilization, but through the other three stabilization processes discussed in Chapter 6. When he is coping successfully and thus feeling good in a particular identity state, this constitutes positive feedback stabilization; he tends to engage in more thoughts and actions that expand and strengthen the identity state. If the fear of having no identity is strong and/or the rewards from a particular identity state are high, this can hinder escape from that identity state. Consider how many successful businessmen work themselves to death, not knowing how to stop being businessmen for even short periods, or how many men die within a few years of retiring, not having their work identity to sustain them.
    Success from being in a particular identity state encourages a person to avoid or suppress thoughts and actions that tends to disrupt that state: this is negative feedback stablization. A "good soldier" is obtaining valuable information about enemy troop movements—information that may save the lives of his buddies—by torturing a native child: he actively suppresses his own identity state of a "father" is order to function effectively in his "soldier' identity.
    Being in a particular identity state also functions as limiting stabilization. The identity leads to selective perception to make perceptions congruent with the reigning identity state. Certain kinds of perceptions that might activate other identity states are repressed. The tortured child is perceived as an "enemy agent," not as a "child." This keeps emotional and attention/awareness energy out of empathic processes that, if activated, would undermine and disrupt the "soldier" identity.
    Identity states, then, are both tools for coping with the environment and ways of avoiding the unknown. The degree to which they srve mainly one or the other funciton probably varies tremendously form individual to individual and identity to identity. Some people are terribly afraid of anything outside the few narrow identities they always function in: by staying in one of the other of those identity states constantly, they never feel the fear of the unknown. Others have less fear of the unknown, but find the rewards from functioning in a few identity states are so high that they have no real need or interest to go outside them. The latter type probably characterizes a stable, well-integrated society, with most citizens quite content in a socially accepted identity states.
    For discussion of radically altered discrete states like hypnosis or drunkenness, the concept of the ordinary d-SoC as relatively unitary is useful. As the systems approach becomes more articulated, however, we shall have to deal with these identity states that exist within the boundaries of the ordinary d-SoC and that probably also function within the boundaries of various d-ASCs.
    In this book, I continue to use the terms discrete state of consciousness and discrete altered state of consciousness to refer to the rather radical alterations like hypnosis or drunkenness that gave rise to the concept in the first place. I use the phrase identity state to indicate the more subtle division.

Footnotes

    [1] The analogy is to old phonograph rolls: we would say "programs" with a computer analogy today [C.T.]
    [2] I use the term role to indicate that a person consciously knows he is acting a part that is not really him, and the term identity state to mean he has become the part. Clearly, the degree of identification can vary rapidly.



 13.   Strategies in Using the Systems Approach



The systems approach generates a number of strategies for studying states of consciousness. Some of these are unique consequences of using a system approach, some are just good-sense strategies that could come from other approaches. Many of these methodological strategies have been touched on in previous chapters; some are brought out in later chapters. Here I bring together most of these methodological points and introduce some new ones.

The Constructed Nature of Consciousness

    Realizing that the ordinary d-SoC is not natural and given, but constructed according to semiarbitrary cultural constraints, gives us the freedom to ask some basic questions that might not otherwise occur to us. And it should make us more cautious about labeling other states as "pathological" and other cultures as "primitive." The Australian bushmen, for example, are almost universally considered one of the world's most primitive cultures because of their nomadic life and their paucity of material possessions. Yet Pearce {49} argues that, from another point of view, these people are among the most sophisticated in the world, for they have organized their entire culture around achieving a certain d-ASC, which they refer to as the experience of "Dream Time." Our bias toward material possessions, however, makes us unable to see this.
    Recognizing the semiarbitrary nature of the system of the ordinary d-SoC that has been constructed in our culture should make us especially aware of the implicit assumptions built into it, assumptions were so taken for granted that it never occurs to us to question them. In Transpersonal Psychologies {128}, nine expert practitioners of various spiritual disciplines wrote about their disciplines not as religions, but as psychologies. In the course of editing these contributions, I was increasingly struck by the way certain assumptions are made in various spiritual psychologies that are different from or contrary to those made in Western psychology. As a result, I wrote a chapter outlining several dozen assumptions that have become implicit for Western psychologies and that, by virtue of being implicit, have great control over us.
    I have found that when asked what some of these assumptions are, I have great difficulty recalling them: I have to go back and look at what I wrote! Although my study of systems that make different assumptions brought these implicit assumptions to mind, they have already sunk back to the implicit assumptions to mind, they have already sunk back to the implicit level. We should not underestimate the power of culturally given assumptions in controlling us, and we cannot overestimate the importance of trying to come to grips with them.
    We should also recognize that the enculturation process, discussed earlier, ties the reward and punishment subsystems to the maintenance and defense of ordinary consensus reality. We are afraid of experiencing d-ASCs that are foreign to us and this fear strengthens our tendency to classify them as abnormal or pathological and to avoid them. It also further strengthens our resolve to deal with all reality from the point of view of the ordinary d-SoC, using only the tool or coping function of the ordinary d-SoC. But since the ordinary d-SoC is a limited tool, good for some things but not for others, we invariable distort parts of reality. The tendency to ignore or fight what we do not consider valuable and to distort our perceptions to make them fit is good for maintaining a cohesive social system, but poor for promoting scientific inquiry. A possible solution is the proposal for establishing state-specific sciences, discussed in Chapter 16.

The Importance of Awareness

    The systems approach stresses the importance of attention/awareness as an activating energy within any d-SoC. Yet if we ask what awareness is or how we direct it and so call it attention, we cannot supply satisfactory answers.
    We may deal with this problem simply by taking basic awareness for granted, as we are forced to do at this level of development of the systems approach, and work with it even though we do not know what it is. After all, we do not really know what gravity is in any ultimate sense, but we can measure what it does and from that information develop, for example, a science of ballistics. We can learn much about d-SoCs in the systems approach if we just take basic awareness and attention/awareness energy for granted, but we must eventually focus on questions about the nature of awareness. We will have to consider the conservative and radical views of the mind to determine whether awareness is simply the product of brain and nervous system functioning or whether it is something more.

System Qualities

    The systems approach emphasizes that even though a d-SoC is made up of components, the overall system has gestalt qualities that cannot be predicted from knowledge of the components alone. Thus, while investigation of the components, the subsystems and structures, is important, such investigative emphasis must be balanced by studies of the overall system's functioning. We must become familiar with the pattern of the overall system's functioning so we can avoid wasting energy on researching components that turn out to be relatively unimportant in the overall system. We might, for example, avoid spending excessive research effort and money, as is now being done, on investigating physiological effects of marijuana intoxication, as we have seen, indicates that psychological factors are at least as important as the drug factor in determining the nature of the d-ASC produced.
    The systems approach also emphasizes the need to examine the system's functioning under the conditions in which it was designed to function. We are not yet sure what, if anything, d-ASCs are particularly designed for, what particular they have. We must find this out. On the other hand, we should try not to waste effort studying d-ASCs under conditions they were clearly not designed for. For example, conducting studies that show a slight decrement in arithmetical skills under marijuana intoxication is of some interest, but since no record exists of anyone using marijuana in order to solve arithmetical problems, such studies are somewhat irrelevant. This emphasizes a point made earlier: that it is generally useless to characterize any d-ASC as "better" or "worse" than any other d-SoC. The question should always be, "Better or worse for what particular task?" All d-ASCs we know of seem to associated with improved functioning for certain kinds of tasks and worsened functioning for others.[1] An important research aim, then, is to find out what d-ASCs are optimal for particular tasks and how to train people to enter efficiently into that d-ASC when they need to perform that task. This runs counter to a strong, implicit assumption in our culture that the ordinary d-SoC is the best one for all tasks; that assumption is highly questionable when it is made explicit. Remember that in any d-SoC there is a limited selection from the full range of human potential. While some of these latent human potentials may be developable in the ordinary d-SoC, some are more available in a d-ASC. Insofar as we consider some of these potentials valuable, we must learn what d-SoCs they are operable in and how to train them for good functioning within those d-SoCs.
    This last point is not an academic issue: enormous numbers of people are now personally experimenting with d-ASCs to attain some of these potentials. While much gain will undoubtedly come out of this personal experimentation, we should also expect much loss.

Individual Differences

    As we have seen, what for one individual is a d-ASC may, for another individual, be merely part of the region of his ordinary d-SoC, one continuous experiential space. By following the common experimental procedure of using group data rather than data from individual subjects, we can (Chapter 9) get the impression of continuity (one d-SoC) when two or more d-SoCs actually occurred within the experimental procedure. We should indeed search for general laws of the mind that hold across individuals, but we must beware of enunciating such laws prematurely without first understanding the behavior and experiences of the individuals within our experiments.
    Recognizing the importance of individual differences has many application outside the laboratory. If a friend tries some spiritual technique and has a marvelous experience as a result, and you try the same technique with no result, there is not necessarily something wrong with you. Rather, because of differences in the structures of your ordinary d-SoCs, that particular technique mobilizes attention/awareness energy in an effective way to produce a certain experience for him, but is not an effective techniques for you.

Operationalism, Relevant and Irrelevant

    Operationalism is a way of rigorously defining some concept by describing the actual operations required to produce it. Thus an operational definition of the concept of "nailing" is defined by the operations (1) pick up a hammer in your right hand; (2) pick up a nail in your left hand; (3) put the point of the nail on a wood surface and hold the nail perpendicular to the wood surface; (4) strike the head of the nail with the hammer and then lift the hammer again; and (5) repeat step 4 until the head of the nail is flush with the surface of the wood. An operational definition is a precise definition, allowing total reproducibility.
    Some claim that whatever cannot be defined operationally is not a legitimate subject for scientific investigation. That is silly. No one can precisely specify all the steps necessary to experience "being in love," but that is hardly justification for ignoring the state of being in love as an important human situation worthy of study. A further problem is that in psychology, operationalism implicitly means physical operationalism, specifying the overt, physically observable steps in a process in order to define it. In the search for an objectivity like that of the physical sciences, psychologists emphasize aspects of their discipline that can be physically measured, but often at the cost of irrelevant studies.
    An example is the equating of the hypnotic state, the d-ASC of hypnosis, with the performance of the hypnotic induction procedure. The hypnotic state is a psychological construct or, if induction has been successful, an experiential reality to the hypnotized person. It is not defined by external measurements. There are no obvious behavioral manifestations that clearly indicate hypnosis has occurred and no known physiological changes that invariably accompany hypnosis. The hypnotic procedure, on the other had, the words that they hypnotist says aloud, is highly amenable to physical measurement. An investigator can film the hypnotic procedure, tape-record the hypnotist's voice, measure the sound intensity of the hypnotist's voice, and accumulate a variety of precise, reproducible physical measurements. But that investigator makes a serious mistake if he then describes the responses of the "hypnotized subject" and means by "hypnotized subject" the person to whom the hypnotist said the words. The fact that the hypnotist performs the procedure does not guarantee that the subject enters the d-ASC of hypnosis. As discussed earlier, a person's b-SoC is multiply stabilized, and no single induction procedure or combination of induction procedures will, with certainty, destabilize the ordinary state and produce a particular d-ASC.
    I stress that the concept of the d-SoC is a psychological, experiential construct. Thus, the ultimate criterion for determining whether a person is in a d-ASC is a map of his experiences that shows him to be in a region of psychological space we have termed a d-ASC. The external performance of an induction technique is not the same as achievement of the desired d-ASC. A hypnotic induction procedure does not necessarily induce hypnosis; lying down in bed does not necessarily induce sleeping or dreaming; performing a meditation exercise does not necessarily induce a meditative state.
    When an induction procedure is physiological, as when a drug is used, the temptation to equate the induction procedure with the altered state is especially great. But the two are not the same, even in this case. As discussed in Chapter 10, smoking marijuana does not necessarily cause a transition out of the b-SoC. Nor, as is shown in Chapter 14, is knowledge of the dose of the drug an adequate specification of depth.
    We do need to describe techniques in detail in our reports of d-ASCs, but we must also specify the degree to which these techniques were actually effective in altering a subject's state of consciousness, and we must specify this for each individual subject. In practice, physiological criteria may be sometimes so highly correlated with experiential reports indicating a d-ASC that those criteria can be considered an indicator that the d-ASC has occurred. This is the case with stage 1 REM dreaming. Behavioral criteria may be similarly correlated with experiential data, though I am not sure any such criteria are well correlated at present. But the primary criteria are well correlated at present. But the primary criterion is an actual assessment of the kind of experiential space the subject is in that indicates the induction procedure was effective.
    Operationalism, then, which uses external, physical, and behavioral criteria, is inadequate for dealing with many of the most important phenomena of d-ASCs. Most of the phenomena that define d-ASCs are internal and may never show obvious behavioral or physiological[2] manifestations.
    Ultimately we need an experiential operationalism, a set of statements such as (1) if you stop all evaluation processes for at least three minutes, (2) and you concurrently invest no attention/awareness energy into the Interoception subsystem for perceiving the body, (3) so that all perception of the body fades out, then (4) you will experience a mental phenomenon of such and such a type. Our present language is not well suited to this, as discussed earlier, so we are a long way from a good experiential operationalism. The level of precision of understanding and communication that an experiential operationalism will bring is very high; nevertheless, we should not overvalue operationalism and abandon hope of understanding a phenomenon we cannot define operationally.

Predictive Capabilities of the Systems Approach

    In Chapter 8 I briefly describe some basic subsystems we can recognize in terms of current knowledge. We can now see how the systems approach can be used to make testable predictions about d-SoCs.
    The basic predictive operation is cyclical. The first step is to observe the properties of structures/subsystems as well as you can from the current state of knowledge. You ask questions in terms of what you already know. Then you take the second step of organizing the observations to make better theoretical models of the structures/subsystems you have observed. The third step is to predict, on the basis of the models, how the structures/subsystems can and cannot interact with each other under various conditions. Fourth, you test these predictions by looking for or attempting to create d-SoCs that fit or do not fit these improved structure/subsystem models and seeing how well the models work. This takes you back to the first step, starting the cycle again, further altering or refining your models, etc.
    The systems approach providers a conceptual framework for organizing knowledge about states of consciousness and a process for continually improving knowledge about the structures/subsystems. The ten subsystems sketched in Chapter 8 are crude concepts at this stage of our knowledge and should eventually be replaced with more precise concepts about the exact nature of a larger number of more basic subsystems and about their possibilities for interaction to form systems.
    I have given little thought so far to making predictions based on the present state of the systems approach. The far more urgent need at this current, chaotic stage of the new science of consciousness is to organize the mass of unrelated data we have into manageable form. I believe that most of the data now available can be usefully organized in the systems approach and that to do so will be a clear step forward. The precise fitting of the available mass of data into this approach will, however, take years of work.
    One obvious prediction of the systems theory is that because the differing properties of structures restrict their interaction, there is a definite limit to the number of stable d-SoCs. Ignoring enculturation, we can say that the number is large but limited by the biological/neurological/psychical endowment of man in general, by humanness. The number of possible states for a particular individual is even smaller because enculturation further limits the qualities of structures.
    My systems approach to consciousness appears to differ from Lilly's approach {34, 35} to consciousness as a human biocomputer. I predict that only certain configurations can occur and constitute stable states of consciousness, d-SoCs. Lilly's model seems to treat the mind as a general-purpose computer, capable of being programmed in any way one can conceive of: "In the province of the mind, what one believes to true either is true or becomes true within certain limits." Personal conversations between Lilly and I suggest that our positions actually do not differ that much. The phrase "within certain limits" is important here. I agree entirely with Lilly's belief that what we currently believe to be the limits, the "basic" structures limiting the mind are probably mostly arbitrary, programmed structures peculiar to our culture and personal history. It is the discovery of the really basic structures behind these arbitrary cultural/personal ones that will tell us about the basic nature of the human mind. The earlier discussion of individual differences is highly relevant here, for it can applied across cultures: two regions of experiential space that are d-SoCs for many or all individuals in a particular culture may be simply parts of one large region of experiential space for many or all individuals in another culture.
    I stress again, however, that our need today, and the primary value of the systems approach, is useful organization of data and guidance in asking questions, not prediction. Prediction and hypothesis-testing will come into their own in a few years as our understanding of structures/subsystems sharpens.

Stability and Growth

    Implicit in the act of mapping an individual's psychological experiences is the assumption of a reasonable degree of stability of the individual's structure and functioning over time. The work necessary to obtain a map would be wasted if the map had to be changed before it had been used.
    Ordinarily we assume that an individual's personality or ordinary d-SoC is reasonably stable over quite long periods, generally over a lifetime once his basic personality has been formed by late adolescence. Exceptions to this assumption occur when individuals are exposed to severe, abnormal conditions, such as disasters, which may radically alter parts of their personality structure, or to psychotherapy and related psychological growth techniques. Although the personality change following psychotherapy is often rather small, leaving the former map of the individual's personality relatively useful, it is sometimes quite large.
    The validity of assuming this kind of stability in relation to research on d-SoCs is questionable. The people who are most interested in experiencing d-ASCs are dissatisfied with the ordinary d-SoC and so may be actively trying to change it. But studies confined to people not very interested in d-ASCs (so-called naive subjects) may be dealing with an unusual group who are afraid of d-ASCs. Stability of the b-SoC or of repeatedly induced d-ASCs is something to be assessed, not assumed. This is particularly true for a person's early experiences with a d-ASC, where he is learning how to function in the d-ASC with each new occurrence. In my study of the experiences of marijuana intoxication {103, 105}. I deliberately excluded users who had had less than a dozen experiences of being stoned on marijuana. The experience of these naive users would have mainly reflect learning to cope with a new state, rather than the common, stable characteristics of the d-ASC of being stoned.
    An individual may eventually learn to merge two d-SoCs into one. The merger may be a matter of transferring some state-specific experiences and potentials back into the ordinary state, so that eventually most or many state-specific experiences are available in the ordinary state. The ordinary state, in turn, undergoes certain changes in its configuration. Or, growth or therapeutic work at the extremes of functioning of two d-SoCs may gradually bring the two closer until experiences are possible all through the former "forbidden region."
    Pseudomerging of two d-SoCs may also be possible. As an individual more and more frequently makes the transitions between the two states, he may automate the transition process to the point where he no longer has any awareness of it, and/or efficient routes through the transition process are so thoroughly learned that the transition takes almost no tie or effort. Then, unless the individual or an observer was examining his whole pattern of functioning, his state of consciousness might appear to be single simply because transitions were not noticed. This latter case would be like the rapid, automated transitions between identity states within the ordinary state of consciousness.
    Since a greater number of human potentials are available in two states than in one, such merging or learning of rapid transitions can be seen as growth. Whether the individual or his culture sees it as growth depends on cultural valuations of the added potentials and the individual's own intelligence in actual utilization of the two states. The availability of more potentials does not guarantee their wise or adaptive use.

Sequential Strategies in Studying d-SoCs

    The sequential strategies for investigating d-SoCs that follow from the systems approach are outlined below. These strategies are idealistic and subject to modification in practice.
    First, the general experiential, behavioral or physiological components of a rough concept of a particular d-ASC are mapped. The data may come from informal interviews with a number of people who have experienced that state, from personal experiences in that d-ASC. This exercise supplies a feeling for the overall territory and its main features.
    Then the experiential space of various individuals is mapped to determine whether their experiences show the distinctive clusterings and patternings that constitute d-SoCs. This step overlaps somewhat with the first, for the investigator assumes or has data to indicate a distinctness about the d-ASC for at least some individuals as a start of his interest.
    For individuals who show this discreteness, the third step of more detailed individual investigation is carried out. For those who do not, studies are begun across individuals to ascertain why some show various discrete states and others do not: in addition to recognizing the existence of individual differences, the researcher must find out why they exist and what function they serve.
    The third step is to map the various d-SoCs of particular individuals in detail. What are the main features of each state? What induction procedures produce the state? What deinduction procedures cause a person to transit out of it? What are the limits of stability of the state? What uses, advantages does the state have? What disadvantages or dangers? How is the depth measured? What are the convenient marker phenomena to rapidly measure depth?
    With this background, the investigator can profitable ask questions about interindividual similarities of the various discrete states. Are they really enough alike across individuals to warrant a common state name? If so, does this relate mainly to cultural background similarities of the individuals studied or to some more fundamental aspect of the nature of the human mind?
    Finally, even more detailed studies can be done on the nature of particular discrete states and the structures/subsystems comprising them. This sort of investigation should come at a late stage to avoid premature reductionism: we must not repeat psychology's early mistake of trying to find the universal Laws of the Mind before we have good empirical maps of the territory.

Footnotes

    [1] Objectivity is hard to maintain here, for functions that are improved in a particular d-SoC may not be valued functions for the culture of the investigator. The first thing we can do is be explicit about our value judgments, rather than pretending we do not make them.
    [2] I refer to present-day levels of physiological measurement: in principle, if we could measure the microstructures of the brain finely enough, we could distinguish d-ASCs that are presently not distinguishable from scalp recordings of brain activity.



14.   The Depth Dimension of a State of Consciousness



I indicated earlier that we can define a d-SoC as a clustering of psychological functioning in a (multidimensional) region of experiential space. Nevertheless, there may be movement of variation within that particular cluster, a quantitative variation in aspects of experience and psychological functioning. Although the overall system pattern maintains it identity, variations occur within it, and these variations are related to what we call the depth or intensity of a state of consciousness. For example, we talk about the ordinary d-SoC as being more or less clear; we speak of someone as being lightly or deeply hypnotized, slightly or very drunk, somewhat or very stoned on marijuana.
    While any d-SoC can vary in many ways within its cluster, often one way predominates. We call this principal dimension the depth dimension. Information about variation along this dimension tells us a lot about variations along related dimensions.
    The concept of depth is much like the concept of a d-SoC. It can simply be a convenient way of describing orderly change in the relationships within a d-SoC, or, developed further, it can be a theoretical explanation of changes in the underlying subsystems' action in the d-SoC, a hypothesis that enables predictions concept of depth or level of alcohol intoxication may, on a descriptive level, be simply an observational statement that increasing intensity of intoxication is associated with increasing numbers of errors in some kind of performance task. On a theoretical level, however, depth of intoxication can be understood as changes in some fundamental brain structures, changes that have widespread effects on a variety of experiences and behaviors.
    In terms of the systems approach, changes in the depth of a d-SoC result from quantitative changes in the operation of structures/subsystems within the particular pattern of subsystem operation that makes up the d-SoC. I emphasize quantitative because these are "more or less" changes, not changes of kind. Earlier investigators have sometimes used the term depth to include qualitative changes, changes in kinds of experiences. In the systems approach only minor qualitative changes are included as part of depth changes, changes small enough to not alter the major pattern of consciousness.
    This is a good place to repeat that both d-SoCs and depth are concepts whose function is to help us understand experience; they are not ultimate realities. A d-SoC consists of radical, qualitative changes in patterning; depth consists of quantitative or minor qualitative changes within a discrete pattern. Someday we may reach a stage of knowledge where the exact boundary between the two concepts become indistinct, but we have not yet arrived there. The major d-SoCs we know much about today differ from one another the way boats, cars, trains, and planes differ; depths are more like the miles per hour measurements within each of these modes of transportation.

Relation of Depth to Intensity

    Assuming that we have some convenient and valid way to measure a person's location of the depth dimension for a given d-SoC, how might different kinds of effects and their intensity relate to depth? Figures 14-1 through 14-5 illustrate some of the possible relations between depth and the intensity of various experiences or observable effects. The intensity of each effect is plotted on the vertical scale; the horizontal scale represents the depth dimension. The effects might be intensities of experiences, behaviors, or physiological indices. 
 
 
 
 

    An effect of type A (Figure 14-1) is present in the ordinary d-SoC at a low or zero level and as the d-ASC deepens, at some threshold the effect starts to become more intense. Then it reaches some maximum level of intensity and stays there, even though depth increases. This rise-and-plateau effect is often found with marijuana intoxication. The feeling that time is slowing down, for example, does not become manifest until a moderately great depth of intoxication is reached; then it starts to manifest itself, steadily get stronger (time seems to slow even more), and finally plateaus at a maximum level, even if the person feels more intoxicated later {105}.
    An effect of type B (Figure 14-2) does not become manifest until a certain threshold depth is reached; then it manifests itself and increases in intensity with increasing depth, as does type A. But, after stabilizing at some maximum value for a while, the effect begins to decrease and finally disappears with further increases in depth. This rise-and-plateau-and-fall effect occurs, for example, during marijuana intoxication. When a person is mildly intoxicated, he begins to find reading easier than usual. The feeling increases for a while, but as medium levels of intoxication are reached, the feeling of finding it easier to read lessens and finally disappears, to be replaced with a feeling of finding it difficult to read {105}.
    An effect of type C (Figure 14-3) does not become manifest until a certain depth is reached in the d-SoC. Then it manifests itself completely over a certain range, without variation in its own intensity and disappears beyond that range. This step-rise-and-fall effect is the extreme case of the rise-plateau-and-fall effect. It can easily be missed in studying a d-SoC if the subject does not remain at that depth for a while. Indeed, some d-SoCs may consist entirely of type C effects. Most ordinary dreaming, for example, is seldom considered to have a depth dimension. Type C effects may actually be rare or may simply not have been noticed. An example of one is given later in this chapter, in connection with the case of William.
    An effect of type D (Figure 14-4) begins to manifest itself mildly at the lowest depth level, as soon as the d-ASC is entered, and increases steadily in intensity all through the depth dimension. This linear increase effect is commonly (but probably erroneously) assumed to be typical of most d-ASCs. Examples of type D effects from marijuana intoxication are the feeling that sensations become more vivid and take on new qualities, the feeling of becoming more tolerant of contradictions, the difficulty in playing ordinary social games. All these begin to become manifest as soon as the subject starts to feel stoned and increase in intensity the more stoned he gets {105}.
    Various curvilinear variations of this effect can occur.
    An effect of type E (Figure 14-5) is manifested strongly in the ordinary d-SoC and is not changed up to a certain depth in the d-ASC. But then it begins to decrease in intensity with increasing depth or, as shown in this example, returns more or less intensely at a greater depth, perhaps in a step-rise-and-plateau effect. An example is the feeling that one can describe one's experiences while in a d-ASC: description is easy at first, gradually becomes less adequate, finally is quite inadequate but at greater depth becomes adequate again. As an example, Erickson {25} describes a stuporous state occurring in some of his very deeply hypnotized subjects, but as hypnosis becomes even deeper they are able to function again.
    There are, of course, may more complex ways that various experiences in d-ASCs can relate to depth, but the above are sufficient to illustrate the more common types.
    The depth-intensity relationships depicted in Figures 14-1 through 14-5 are based on some assumed a priori measure of depth. The concept of depth, however, can be utilized without assuming a prior measure. To do this, we begin empirically from scratch by arbitrarily defining any one varying effect we can conveniently measure as the depth dimension. We then let it vary throughout its range in the d-SoC, measure every other effect over this range of variation, and plot them against our arbitrarily defined depth dimension. For marijuana intoxication, for example, we might take a subject's ratings of how unusually intense his sensory experience is, and for a given rating of this, measure and/or have him rate a variety of other effects. Then we change the intensity to which his sensory experience is altered (by drugs or by psychological means), remeasure the other effects, etc. The map or graphical plot obtained of how the different effects relate to each other is the depth dimension. We need no longer define one particular effect as "depth." We have arrived at a good descriptive concept of depth by empirical mapping without having had to know what it was before we could start.
    In doing this, we are lucky if we happen to start with an effect of type D as the initial index of depth. Since we are used to thinking in linear ways, plotting everything against an effect that changes linearly will produce a map we can understand fairly easily.
    Depth obtained in the above way is a purely descriptive concept. It helps us summarize and relate our observations, but it will probably not allow us to predict things we have not yet observed. If, however, we view the effects and their changes as manifestations or alterations in the subsystems and structures that make up the d-SoC, depth becomes a scientific hypothesis. We should then be able to predict things other than those we have measured and test these predictions.[1]

Self-Reports of Depth

    The feeling of varying depth is one often described as directly experienced in a d-ASC. A person often has an immediate feel for how intense the d-ASC is. He may remark, for example, that the marijuana he smoked must have been awfully potent because he feels intensely stoned or that his meditative state is more profound than usual.
    Even if a person does not spontaneously comment about the depth of his d-ASC, if asked he often gives an extremely useful estimate—"extremely useful" in the sense that the estimate can be an excellent predictor of other aspects of the experience or of his behavior.
    The fact that people do estimate the depths of their d-ASCs prompted me to do extensive investigations of self-report scales of depth, and I have found such scales very useful for measuring the intensity of the hypnotic state {114} and of marijuana intoxication {105, 139}. Charles Honorton has found that similar state reports relate well to the degree of alpha rhythm and muscle tension subjects show in learning to control their brain waves {28}, and to the amount of extrasensory perception they show {27,29}. This material is somewhat technical for the general reader and I shall not detail it here; I refer my colleagues to the above sources, for this research has convinced me that self-reporting of the depth of a d-ASC is probably the best measure of depth currently available, certainly better than such parameters as drug dose.
    A detailed example of self-report scaling of the depth of hypnosis is presented below. It illustrates the idea of depth and the way a common language is established between experiencer and investigator and provides some information about deep hypnosis and its possible transition into another d-ASC entirely.[2]

The Extended North Carolina Scale

    The Extended North Carolina Scale has been used in a large number of experiments in my laboratory, primarily where experienced hypnotic subjects are used repeatedly in various experiments. It is similar to the North Carolina Scale {61, 63, 80} with the addition that subjects are told that there is really no "top" to the scale, that it is possible for them to go considerably deeply into hypnosis than the defined points. The exact instructions for the scale are:
    We are interested in the ways in which the intensity or depth of your hypnotic state may vary from time to time. It has been our experience that we can get quite accurate reports of hypnotic depth or intensity by teaching you a way of scaling it and getting your first impressions whenever we ask you about your hypnotic state.
    Basically, whenever I ask, "State?" a number will flash into your mind, and I want you to call it out to me right away. This number will represent the depth of your hypnotic state at the time. This number will flash into your mind and you'll call it out automatically, without any effort on your part. You won't have to think about what this number should be, or try to reason it out; you'll just call out the first number that comes to mind whenever I ask, "State?" If, of course, you then think the number is very inaccurate for some reason, I'd like you to tell me so, but people rarely feel the number is not accurate, even though they are sometimes surprised by it.
    Getting these depth numbers is very important, because every person is unique in his reactions while hypnotized. Some people react at different speeds than others; some react to a particular hypnotic experience by going deeper into hypnosis, others sometimes find the depth of their hypnotic state decreased by the same experience. Thus by getting these state reports from you every so often I can tell whether to go a little faster or slower, where to put emphasis in the suggestions I use to guide you, etc. These depth reports are not always what I expect, but it's more important for me to know where you really are than just assume you're there because I've been talking that way!
    Now here is the numerical scale you are to use. I'll give you various highlights that identify different degrees of hypnosis on the scale, but report any point on the scale when asked for your state.
    Zero is your normal, waking state.
    From to 12 is a state in which you feel relaxed and detached, more so as the numbers increase toward 12; in this range you can experience such hypnotic phenomena as your arm rising up or feeling heavy or moved by a force.
    When you reach a depth of 20 or greater you feel very definitely hypnotized, and you can experience great changes in your feeling of your body, such as your hand getting numb if I suggest it.
    By the time you reach a depth of 25 or greater you can have strong inner experiences such as dreams or dreamlike experiences.
    At a depth of 30 or greater you can temporarily forget everything that happened in the hypnosis if I suggest it. Many other experiences are possible at this depth and greater, such as regressing into the past and reliving some experience, experiencing tastes and smells I might suggest, or not experiencing real stimuli if I tell you not to sense them. There are hardly any hypnotic phenomena you can't experience at least fairly well, and most extremely well, at this depth. At 30 and beyond your mind is very quiet and still when I'm not directing your attention to something, and you probably don't hear anything except my voice or other sounds I might direct your attention to.
    You have reached at least 30 in earlier sessions, and it is a sufficient depth to be able to learn all the skills needed in this experiment, but it is very likely that you will go deeper than 30 in these studies.
    By the time you have reached a depth of 40 or greater you have reached a very deep hypnotic state in which your mind is perfectly still and at peace if I'm not directing your attention to something. Whatever I do suggest to you at this depth and beyond is perfectly real, a total, real, all-absorbing experience at the time, as real as anything in life. You can experience anything I suggest at 40 and beyond.
    I'm not going to define the depths beyond this, for little is known about them; if you go deeper than 40, and I hope you do, I'll ask you about the experiences that go with these greater depths so we may learn more about deep hypnosis.[3]
    Remember now that increasing numbers up from zero indicate an increasing degree of hypnotic depth, from the starting point of ordinary wakefulness up to a state in which you can experience anything in hypnosis with complete realism. Your quick answers whenever I ask, "State?" will be my guide to the depth of your hypnotic state, and help me guide you more effectively. Always call out the first number that pops into your mind loudly and clearly. Whenever I ask, "State?" a number on the scale will instantly come into mind and you call it out.
    These instructions for the scale are usually read to the subject after he is hypnotized, and he is asked whether he comprehends them. Also, the instructions are briefly reread to the subject every half-dozen hypnotic sessions or so to refresh his memory of them.
    The overall attitude in working with subjects in my laboratory on a prolonged basis is to treat them as explorers or colleagues working with the investigators, rather than as subjects who are being manipulated for purposes alien to them.

William: Deep Hypnosis and Beyond

    William, a twenty-year old male college student, is extremely intelligent, academically successful, and well adjusted. His only previous experience with hypnosis was some brief work with a psychiatrist cousin to teach him how to relax. In a screening session with the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, he scored 11 out of a possible 12. On a questionnaire he reported that he almost always recalled dreaming, that such dreaming was vivid and elaborate, and that he had kept a dream diary at times in the past. William reported that he had sleeptalked rather frequently as a child but did so only occasionally now. He had never sleepwalked. On individual testing with the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale {145}, he scored 12 out a possible 12. He then had two training sessions, described elsewhere {136}, designed to explore and maximize his hypnotic responsiveness in various areas. In the first of these special training sessions, he was taught the Extended North Carolina Scale. He then took Forms I and II of the Stanford Profile Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility {146} and scored 26 and 27 on Forms I and II, respectively, out of a possible maximum of 27 on each.
    Over the course of the next eight months, William participated in a variety of experiments in my laboratory, which served to further increase his hypnotic experience and make him well adapted to functioning the laboratory setting; he had ten sessions of training for operant control of the EEG alpha rhythm {94}, four experimental sessions in various aspects of hypnosis, and eight evening sessions in which he was hypnotized and given posthypnotic suggestions to carry out in his subsequent sleep in the laboratory, such as dreaming about a suggested topic {136}, incorporating auditory stimuli into his dreams, and talking during his sleep. Thus, by the time William participated in the deep hypnosis experiment described here, he was familiar with the lab and had been hypnotized there 18 times. The deepest depth report given in any of these sessions was 60, and he usually gave reports between 40 and 50.
    In the experimental session reported below, I explained to William that the purpose of the session was to find out what hypnosis meant to him personally. Specifically, he was informally interviewed for about an hour to determine what he usually experienced under hypnosis, other than his reactions to specifically suggested phenomena, and, if possible, what depth level, according to the Extended North Carolina Scale, he was at when he experienced these particular things. I then hypnotized him and at each 10-point interval on a depth continuum I asked William to remain at that depth and describe whatever it was he was experiencing. No particular probing was done except for phenomena already mentioned by William; the emphasis was on his individual hypnotic experience. William also agreed to attempt to go much deeper than he ever had gone before.
    The session was quite rewarding. Although William had never gone beyond 60 before, he went to 90, reporting at the 10-point intervals on the Extended North Carolina Scale, and also briefly went from 90 to 130. These values beyond 40 had not, of course, been defined by me: they were the result of his own definition. Or, according to William's report, they were simply numbers that came to his mind when he was asked for his state. Despite repeated questioning by me and despite the fact that the subject was quite verbal and extremely good at describing his experiences, his only comment on how he measured his hypnotic depth was that when I asked him for a state report a number popped into his mind, he said it, and that was it. He had no idea how these numbers were generated, nor did he "understand" them, but he assumed they meant something since he had been told in the original Extended North Carolina Scale instructions that they would.
    The results of both his preinduction interview about his general experience of hypnosis and the particular hypnotic session have been condensed into the graph shown in Figure 14-6 (Reprinted from C. Tart, J. Transpersonal Psychology., 1970, 2, 27-40, by the permission of the American Transpersonal Association). 
    William felt that his particular experience during this exploration was typical of his general experience with hypnosis. Various phenomena was plotted, each with its own ordinate of intensity. Circles indicate reports obtained during this particular hypnotic session, triangles are reports obtained during the interview preceding this session about all his hypnotic experiences to date. Not every phenomenon was assessed on every 10-point interval on the depth scale, so curves are shown as dotted where data points are missing. The following discussion indicates some of the phenomena of extremely deep hypnotic states and illustrates some of the theoretically possible relationships of effects to hypnotic depth discusses earlier.
    The first effect, "physical relaxation," is not plotted beyond 20. According to William his relaxation increases markedly as he is hypnotized and quickly reaches a value of extremely relaxed. However, he reports that after a depth of 50 it does not make sense to ask him about physical relaxation because he is no longer identified with his body; his body is "just a thing, something I've left behind." One does not rate the relaxation of things.
    The second experiential effect is of a "blackness" of the visual field. The visual field becomes quite black and formless as he goes into hypnosis. Nevertheless, it continues to become somehow blacker[4] in a roughly linear increase up to about 60. At this point he says the field continues to become blacker as he goes deeper, but it is in some sense "filled," there is a sense that there is some kind of form(s) filling his visual field even though he is not perceiving any particular forms. Beyond 60 he is not particular aware of any visual sensation unless his attention is drawn to it by the experimenter.
    The third effect, a feeling of "peacefulness," also increases from the beginning of the hypnotic state through approximately 60. William reports that he is extremely peaceful at this point. Beyond 60, he says, that peacefulness is not a meaningful concept, as was the case with physical relaxation. As described later in connection with the plots of William's identity, there is no longer a self to be peaceful or not peaceful beyond this point.
    The fourth plotted effect is William's degree of "awareness of his environment," primarily the small sounds in the experimental room and the temperature and air currents in it. His awareness of the environment falls off rapidly and roughly linearly, and at about 50 reaches a point where he reports that he is not at all aware of the environment (with the exception of the hypnotist's voice). His awareness of the environment then stays at zero throughout the rest of the plotted continuum.
    The fifth effect, labeled "sense of identity," is a little more complex. In the light stages of hypnosis William is fully aware of his ordinary identity and body image, but as he reaches a depth of about 30 he reports that his identity is "more center in his head," is dominated by feelings of his head and his mind. This feeling continues to increase, plotted as a decrease of his ordinary identity, and then his ordinary identity continues to decrease until around 80 or 90 he feels that his ordinary identity is completely in abeyance: "William no longer exists. On the other hand, starting from about 50 he begins to sense another identity, and this continually increased up through about 80, the last point plotted for this phenomenon. This identity is one of potential—he doesn't feel identified as any specific person or thing but only as the steadily increasing potential to be anything or anyone.
    The sixth phenomenon, labeled "awareness of the joke," is even more difficult to explain. This phenomenon manifests at about 50, reaches a maximum at about 70, then fades in intensity and is completely gone at 90. The "joke" is that William should engage in strange activities like deep hypnosis, meditation, or taking drugs in order to alter his d-SoC; some "higher" aspect of his self is amused by all this activity, and William himself becomes aware of this amusement. Most people who have had several psychedelic drug sessions will recognize this as an effect that often occurs as the drug is beginning to take hold.
    The next effect, labeled "sense of potentiality," starts off at a zero level but at around 50 first manifests itself as an awareness of some sort of chant or humming sound identified with the feeling that more and more experience is potentially available.[5] The specific form of the chant is lost but this sense of potentiality increases linearly from this point, until around 80 William feels that an infinite range of experience is potentially available, so this phenomenon levels off.
    The eighth effect, "experimenter's identity," at first increases as the subject goes down to about 30 in hypnosis; that is, he becomes more and more aware of the experimenter. The experimenter then seems to become more an more distant and remote, and finally the experimenter possesses no identity, he is just a voice, and at the very deep levels he is "just an amusing, tiny ripple at the far fringes of an infinite sea of consciousness." There is slight discrepancy at 50 between William's actual experience and his estimate of what he generally experienced.
    The ninth effect, "rate of time passage," indicates that William feels time passing more and more slowly in a linear fashion as he goes down to about 40. This effect is no longer plotted, for as the next effect, "being in time," shows, William feels that time suddenly ceases to be a meaningful concept for him: at 50 he is no longer in time, his experiences are somehow timeless, they do not have a duration or a place, an order in the scheme of things.[6]
    The next effect, labeled "feeling of oneness," increases linearly throughout the depth range plotted. Here William reports feeling more and more at one with the universe, although he does not ordinarily feel this. The effect is plotted as being very low in his ordinary waking state.
    The next effect is "spontaneously mental activity," how much conscious mental activity that is not related to specific suggestions by the hypnotist to do something or to experience something. In the ordinary waking state this is quite high: recall the Hindu metaphor that describes the ordinary mind as being lie a sexually aroused and drunken monkey, constantly hopping about and chattering. This spontaneous mental activity goes steadily down until it reaches an essentially zero level at about 90 and stays here through the rest of the depth range plotted. I have discussed such a decrease in spontaneous mental activity for hypnosis elsewhere {78}.
    The final effect plotted is William's "awareness of his own breathing." He feels that his breathing tends to become steadily deeper as he becomes more deeply hypnotized, but a 50 there is a sudden change in his perceived breathing: it becomes extremely shallow, almost imperceptible, and stays that way through the rest of the hypnotic state. It is not known whether an objective measure of respiration would show any changes at this point; William did not actually stop breathing.
    Considering the above phenomena as a report of a well-trained observer, we can make a number of comments. First it should be clear that William has an exceptional ability for hypnosis; he appears to have gone far deeper than the usual range of phenomena conventionally labeled "deep hypnosis." As the Extended North Carolina Scale was defined for him, 30 was the level ordinarily defined as deep hypnosis (amnesia, positive and negative hallucinations as defining phenomena), and 40 would have be the approximate limit reported by many of the highly hypnotizable subjects I have worked with in the laboratory. Yet William reported a maximum depth of 130 which, if one assumes reasonable validity and linearity for the scale, may be one of the deepest hypnotic states on record. This ability to go so deep may partially stem from his previous experience with meditation and psychedelic drugs. Further, William is exceptionally verbal and able to describe his experiences well. In the past, Erickson's {33, pp. 70-112} exceptionally good subjects have reached a "stuporous" state, which may have reflected an inability to conceptualize and verbalize their experiences. Thus William's hypnotic experiences are illustrative of a potential range of hypnotic phenomena, but are not typical.
    Second, the expected nonlinearity and noncontinuity of possible effects (and subsystem operation, insofar as effects may be taken as indicators of subsystem operation) are apparent in William's data. In the ordinary range of light to deep hypnosis (roughly 0-40), most effects are linear, but "experimenter's identity" is curvilinear, and "physical relaxation" is noncontinuous, and becomes a meaningless variable halfway through this range. Considering the entire depth range plotted, some effects show step functions ("awareness of breathing," "being in time"), rapid increases and decreases from zero ("awareness of the joke"), plateauing after an initial linear increase of decrease ("experimenter's identity," "sense of potentiality," "awareness of the environment," "visual blackness"), or disappearance by becoming meaningless ("peacefulness," "physical relaxation"). If, in the course of investigation, one used the intensity of one phenomenon as an index of hypnotic depth, confusing results would be obtained if it were not linear and continuous. The value of a multiphenomenal approach is apparent.
    Third, the large number of step changes or fairly rapid changes in the 50-70 range raises the question, in view of the definition of d-SoCs, of whether we are still dealing with "deep hypnosis" beyond the depth of approximately 70. These rapid changes may represent a transition from the gestalt configuration we call hypnosis to a new configuration, a new d-SoC.
    This research with William is a prototype of the research strategy recommended in Chapter 13 for working with d-SoCs—detailed mapping of a single individual's experiential space to see if certain clusterings emerge that constitute d-SoCs. This particular example is an imperfect prototype, however, because the systems approach was not clear in my mind when I did this research with William. I was expecting continuity of experience in one state, the hypnotic state, so I did not sample enough data points to determine whether there was a clear discontinuity showing William transiting from one d-SoC to another. Thus the changes plotted in Figure 14-6 are a rough sort of plot, consistent with the systems approach, but not done precisely enough.
    Note also that there is little mapping of the very light region of hypnosis and consequently no data on the transition from the ordinary d-SoC to hypnosis.
    At its maximum level (assuming that the 70-130 range represents depth continuum for the new d-SoC), the state has the following phenomenological characteristics: (1) no awareness of the physical body; (2) no awareness of any discrete "thing" or sensation, but only awareness of a flux of potentiality; (3) no awareness of the real world environment, with the one exception of the (depersonalized) voice of the experimenter as "an amusing tiny ripple at the far fringes of an infinite sea of consciousness"; (4) a sense of being beyond, outside of time; and (5) a sense of the identity "William" being totally in abeyance, and identity being simply potentiality.
    States of this type have not been dealt with in Western scientific literature to any great extent, but sound similar to Eastern descriptions of consciousness of the Void, a d-SoC in which time, space, and ego are supposedly transcended, leaving pure awareness of the primal nothingness from which all manifested creation comes {22, 51}. Writers who have described in words, so the above description and comparison with William's experience is rough, to say the least. Thus William's data are not only of interest in terms of hypnotic depth and the transition from one d-SoC to another, but raise the possibility of using hypnotic states to induce and/or model mystical states.[7]
    The resemblance between William's description of his state and classic descriptions of Void consciousness suggests the question, Who is reporting to me, the experimenter? If William's personality is in abeyance, if he has not awareness of his physical body, who is talking?
    The concept of dissociation may supply an answer. Some structures/subsystems may form a (semi-) independent entity from the rest of the system, so that more than one d-SoC can exist simultaneously in one individual. Thus, some aspects of William are structured into a d-SoC I loosely call Void consciousness; other aspects are structured/patterned into a kind of consciousness that can (at least partially) observe what the Void consciousness part is doing, can understand my questions, and can reply to me. Is this Observer discussed in Chapter 11, or a dissociated series of subsystems forming a d-SoC, or what? Grappling with this sort of question forces confrontation with some basic issues about the nature of consciousness.
    William's data illustrate some of the practical aspects of studying the depth of a d-SoC, particularly hypnosis. Using the individual subject as a unit, a set of interrelationships of various phenomena with respect to hypnotic depth has been found; self-reported depth has ordered observed phenomena in a useful and theoretically important manner. Further research will study this same sort of procedure in other subjects, repeat sessions with some subjects to study consistency, and make initial intersubject comparisons to determine which depth-phenomenology relationships are general and which represent idiosyncratic qualities of subjects. General relationships of phenomena with depth may be found and/or several classes of subjects may be fond and/or several d-SoCs may be identified that have in the past all been indiscriminately termed "hypnosis."
    Finally, it should be stressed that the case of William is presented to illustrate the potential of self-reporting of hypnotic depth. The effects of subtle factors in my laboratory, demand characteristics, and William's uniqueness must be assessed in the course of replication and extension of this work by others to establish how much of this potential holds up and becomes practically and theoretically useful.

Footnotes

    [1] The researcher planning work with self-report depth scales should note some other precautions outlined in my chapter in Fromm and Shor's book {114}. (back)
    [2] Much of the following account is drawn from my chapter in Fromm and Shor {114}. (back)
    [3] In some of my earlier work with the North Carolina Scale, 50 was defined as a state so profound that the subject's mind became sluggish, but this definition was dropped here.(back)
    [4] William insists that this progression is not going from gray to darker gray to black because his visual field is black to begin with, even though it gets "blacker." He recognizes the paradox of this statement, but considers it the best description he can give. (back)
    [5] The chant William reported may be related to the Hindu concept of the sacred syllable Om, supposedly a basic sound of the universe that a man can "hear" as mind becomes more universally attuned {13}. (back)
    [6] Priestley {53} discusses such experiences of being in and out of time quite extensively.
    [7] Aaronson {1} has reported direct hypnotic induction of the Void experience through specific suggestion.



 15.   State-Specific Communication


    "According the general opinion of the uninitiated," mused Nasrudin, as he walked along the road, "dervishes are mad. According to the sages, however, they are the true masters of the world. I would like to test one, and myself, to make sure."
    Then he saw a tall figure, robed like a Akldan dervish—reputed to be exceptionally enlightened men—coming towards him.
    "Friend," said the Mulla, "I want to perform an experiment, to test your powers of psychic penetration, and also my sanity."
    "Proceed," said the Akldan.
    Nasrudin made a sudden sweeping motion with his arm, then clenched his fist. "What have I in my hand?"
    "A horse, chariot, and driver," said the Akldan immediately.
    "That's no real test,—Nasrudin was petulant—"because you saw me pick them up." {57, p. 79}
    In d-ASCs people often claim to have exceptional and important insights about themselves or about the nature of the world that they are unable to communicate to the rest of us owing to the ineffability of the experience, the inadequacy of language, or the "lowness" of the ordinary d-SoC that makes us incapable of understanding "higher" things. The general scientific opinion, however, is that communicative ability deteriorates in various d-ASCs, such as drug-induced or mystical states. This opinion is usually based on the observation that the experimenter/observer has difficulty understanding what the person in the d-ASC is talking about; his comments make no sense by ordinary consensus reality standards.
    I suspect that sometimes this judgment is based on fear, on the semiconscious recognition that what a person in a d-ASC is saying may be all too true, but somehow unacceptable. I recall the time when a friend of mine was having a psychotic breakdown: it struck me that half the things he said were clearly crazy, in the sense of being unrelated to the social situation around him and reflecting only his own internal processes, but the other half of the things he said were such penetrating, often unflattering, observations about what other people were really feeling and doing that they were threatening to most of us. Bennett {5} makes the same observation, noting that after his wife had a cerebral hemorrhage she seemed to lose all the usual social inhibitions and said directly what she felt. This was extremely threatening to most people and was regarded as senile dementia or insanity; yet to a few who were not personally threatened by her observation, her comments were extremely penetrating. If you label someone as crazy, you need not listen to him.
    How can we decide in an objective fashion whether someone in a d-ASC is able to communicate more or less clearly? Perhaps this is the wrong question. I propose that, for at least some d-ASCs, there are significant alterations in the manner in which a person communicates. Changes in various subsystems, especially the Evaluation and Decision-Making subsystem, produce a new logic, so that the grammar of communication, including the nonverbal aspects of expression, constitutes a different kind of language, one that may be just as effective in communicating with someone else in the same d-ASC as ordinary communication is in the ordinary d-Soc. We must consider this possibility in an objective manner, but be careful not implicitly to equate "objectivity' with the standards of only one d-SoC.
    For a given d-ASC, then, how can we determine whether there is deterioration, improvement, or simply alteration in communication ability, or a complex combination of all three? More specifically, we must ask this question with respect to communication across d-SoCs—about communication between two persons in different d-SoCs as well as about communication between two persons in the same d-SoC. In regard to the last two situations, only theorizing is possible, for all published research deals only with the restricted situation of an experimental subject in a d-ASC and the experimenter/observer in his ordinary d-SoC.
    If the grammar of communication is altered in a d-ASC, then clearly a judge in an ordinary d-SoC cannot distinguish between the hypotheses of deterioration and of alteration in the communicative style of a person in a d-ASC. The specialized argot of a subcultural group may sound, to an outside observer, like the talk of schizophrenics. A person familiar with that subculture, on the other hand, finds the communications exchanged among the group perfectly meaningful, perhaps extraordinarily rich. In this example, contextual clues may make the outsider suspect this is a subcultural argot, but if the group is in an institutional setting and is labeled "schizophrenic," he may readily conclude that its speech has indeed deteriorated, without bothering to study the matter further.
    To judge adequately whether communicative patterns have altered (and possibly improved) rather than deteriorated, the judge must function in the same d-ASC as the communicator. Experienced marijuana smokers, for example, claim they can subtly communicate all sorts of things—especially humor—to each other while intoxicated {105}. The degree to which an observer in a different d-SoC—for example, his ordinary d-SoC—can understand the same communication is interesting, but not a valid measure of the adequacy of the communication within the d-ASC. And, as explained in earlier chapters, identification of a person as being in a particular d-ASC must be based not just on the fact that he has undergone an induction procedure (for example, taken a drug) but on actual mapping of his location in experiential space.
   
    Suppose the judge is in the same d-ASC as the subjects in the study, and reports that their communication is rich and meaningful, not at all deteriorated. How do we know that the judge's mental processes themselves are not deteriorated and that he is not just enjoying the illusion of understanding, rather than prosaically judging the subjects' communication? The question leads to general problems of measuring the accuracy and adequacy of communication, an area I know little about. All the work in this area has been done with respect to ordinary d-SoC communication, but I believe the techniques can be applied to this question of adequacy of communication in d-ASCs. I shall try to show this by describing one technique for rating ordinary d-SoC communication with which I am familiar that could be readily applied to judging d-ASC communication.
    It is the Cloze technique {140}. It measures, simultaneously, how well a written or verbal communication is both phrased (encoded) and how well it is understood by a receiver or judge. From a written message or a transcript of a spoken message, every fifth word is deleted. Judges then guess what the deleted words are, and the total number of words correct is a measure of the accuracy and meaningfulness of the communication. If a judge understands the communicator well, he can fill in a high proportion of the words correctly; if he does not understand him well he gets very few correct. This technique works because ordinary language is fairly redundant, so the overall context of the message allows excellent guesses about missing words. This technique can be applied to communications between subjects as judged both by a judge in the same d-ASC, thus testing adequacy of communication within the d-ASC, and by a judge in a different d-SoC, thus measuring transfer across states. We think of the different d-SoC, thus measuring transfer across states. We think of the different d-SoC as being the ordinary state, but other d-SoCs are possible, and we can eventually use this technique for a cross-comparison across all d-SoCs we know of and produce important information about both communication and the nature of various d-SoCs.
    Two problems arise in applying the Cloze technique in investigating communications in d-ASCs. One is that a particular d-ASC may be associated with a switch to more nonverbal components of communication. This difficulty could probably be remedied by making videotapes of the procedure, and systematically deleting every fifth second, and letting the judges fill in the gap. The second problem is that communication in a d-ASC may be as adequate, but less redundant, a circumstance that would artificially lower the scores on the Cloze test without adequately testing the communication. I leave this problem as a challenge to others.
    Another important methodological factor is the degree of adaptation to functioning in a particular d-ASC. I am sure techniques of the Cloze type would show deterioration in communication within d-ASCs for subjects who are relatively naive in functioning in those d-ASCs. Subjects have to adapt to the novelty of a d-ASC; they may even need specific practice in learning to communicate within it. The potential for an altered style of communication, state-specific communication, may be present and need to be developed, rather than being available immediately upon entering the d-ASC. I do not imply simply that people learn to compensate for the deterioration associated with a d-ASC, but rather that they learn the altered style of communication inherent in or more natural to that particular d-ASC.
    In Chapter 16, in which I propose the creation of state-specific sciences, I assume that communication within some d-ASCs is adequate: this is a necessary foundation for the creation of state-specific sciences. In making this assumption, I depend primarily on experiential observations by people in d-ASCs. Objective verification with the Cloze technique or similar techniques is a necessary underpinning for this. As state-specific sciences are developed, on the other hand, technique for evaluating the adequacy of communication may be developed within particular states that can be agreed upon as "scientific" techniques within that state, even though they do not necessarily make sense in the ordinary d-SoC.
    Another interesting question concerns transfer of communicative ability after the termination of a d-ASC to the ordinary (or any other) d-SoC. Experienced marijuana smokers, for example, claim that they can understand a subject intoxication on marijuana even when they are not intoxication themselves because of partial transfer of state-specific knowledge to the ordinary d-SoC. We need to study the validity of this phenomenon.
    In earlier chapters I avoid talking about "higher" states of consciousness, as the first job of science is description, not evaluation. Here, however, I want to speculate on what one relatively objective definition of the adjective higher, applied to a d-SoC, could mean with respect to communication. If we consider that understanding many communications from other people is more valuable than understanding few of their communications, then a higher d-SoC is one in which communications form a variety of d-ASCs are adequately understood; a lower d-SoC is one in which understanding is limited, perhaps to the particular lower d-SoC itself.



 16.   State-Specific Sciences



In previous chapters I argue that the ordinary (or any) d-SoC is a semiarbitrary construction, a specialized tool, useful for some things but not for others. A consequence of this is that science is specialized, because it is a one-d-SoC science. As a method of learning science has been applied only in a limited way because it has been used in only one of many possible d-SoCs. This chapter works out the consequences of this idea in detail and proposes that if we are to understand d-ASCs adequately, as well as ourselves as human beings, we must develop state-specific sciences.[1]

Disaffection with Science

    Blackburn {7} recently noted that many of our most talented young people are "turned off" from science: as a solution, he proposed that we recognize the validity of a more sensuous-intuitive approach to nature, treating it as complementary to the classical intellectual approach.
    I have seen the same rejection of science by many of the brightest students in California, and the problem is indeed serious Blackburn's analysis is valid, but not deep enough. A more fundamental source of alienation is the widespread experience of d-ASCs by the young, coupled with the almost total rejection by the scientific establishment of the knowledge gained during the experiencing of d-ASCs. Blackburn himself exemplifies this rejection when he says: "Perhaps science has much to learn along this line from the disciplines, as distinct from the context, of Oriental religions" (my italics).
    To illustrate, a 1971 Gallup poll {41} indicated that approximately half of American college students have tried marijuana and that a large number of them use it fairly regularly. They do this at the risk of having their careers ruined and going to jail for several years. Why? Conventional research on the nature of marijuana intoxication tells us that the primary effects are a slight increase in heart rate, reddening of the eyes, some difficulty with memory, and small decrements in performance on complex psychomotor tests.
    Would you risk going to jail to experience these?
    A young marijuana smoker who hears a scientist or physician refer to these findings as the basic nature of marijuana intoxication will simply sneer and have his antiscientific attitude further reinforced. It is clear to him that the scientist has no real understanding of what marijuana intoxication is all about (see {105} for a comprehensive description of this d-ASC).
    More formally, an increasingly significant number of people are experimenting with d-ASCs in themselves and finding the experiences thus gained of extreme importance in their philosophy and style of life. The conflict between experiences in these d-ASCs and the attitudes and intellectual-emotional systems that have evolved in the ordinary d-SoC is a major factor behind the increased alienation of many people from conventional science. Experiences of ecstasy, mystical union, other dimensions, rapture, beauty, space-and-time transcendence, and transpersonal knowledge, all common in d-ASCs, are simply not treated adequately in conventional scientific approaches. These experiences will not go away if we crack down more on psychedelic drugs, for immense numbers of people now practice carious nondrug techniques for producing d-ASCs, such as meditation {39} and yoga.
    My purpose here is to show that it is possible to investigate and work with the important phenomena of d-ASCs in a manner that is perfectly compatible with the essence of scientific method. The conflict discussed above is not necessary.

States of Consciousness

    To review briefly, a d-ASC is defined as a qualitative alteration in the overall pattern of mental functioning, such that the experiencer feels his consciousness is radically different from the way it functions ordinarily. A d-SoC is defined not in terms of any particular content of consciousness or specific behavior or physiological change, but in terms of the overall patterning of psychological functioning.
    An analogy with computer functioning can clarify this definition. A computer has a complex program of many subroutines. If we reprogram it quite differently, the same sorts of input data may be handled in quite different ways; we can predict little from our knowledge of the old program about the effects of varying the input, even though old and new programs have some subroutines in common. The new program with its input-output interactions must be studied in and of itself. A d-ASC is analogous to a temporary change in the program of a computer.
    The d-ASCs experienced by almost all ordinary people are dreaming states and the hypnagogic and hypnopompic states, the transitional states between sleeping and waking. Many others experience another d-ASC, alcohol intoxication.
    The relatively new (to our culture) d-ASCs that are now having such an impact are those produced by marijuana, more powerful psychedelic drugs such as LSD, meditative states, so-called possession states, and autohypnotic states.[2]

States of Consciousness and Paradigms

    It is useful to compare this concept of a d-SoC, a qualitatively distinct organization of the pattern of mental functioning, with Kuhn's {32} concept of paradigms in science. A paradigm is an intellectual achievement that underlies normal science and attracts and guides the work of an enduring number of adherents in their scientific activity. It is a "super" theory, a formulation wide enough in scope to affect the organization of most or all of the major known phenomena of its field. Yet it is sufficiently open-ended that there still remain important problems to be solved within that framework. Examples of important paradigms in the history of science have been Copernican astronomy and Newtonian dynamics.
    Because of their tremendous success, paradigms undergo a change which, in principle, ordinary scientific theories do not undergo. An ordinary scientific theory is always subject to further questioning and testing as it is extended. A paradigm becomes an implicit framework for most scientists working within it; it is the natural way of looking at things and doing things. It does not seriously occur to the adherents of a paradigm to question it (we may ignore, for the moment, the occurrence of scientific revolutions). Theories become referred to as laws: people talk of the law of gravity, not the theory of gravity, for example.
    A paradigm serves to concentrate the attention of a researcher on sensible problem areas and to prevent him from wasting his time on what might be trivia. On the other hand, by implicitly defining some lines of research as trivial or nonsensical, a paradigm acts as a blinder. Kuhn has discussed this blinding function as a key factory in the lack of effective communications during paradigm clashes.
    The concept of a paradigm and a d-SoC are quite similar. Both constitute complex, interlocking sets of rules and theories that enable a person to interact with and interpret experiences within an environment. In both cases, the rules are largely implicit. They are not recognized as tentative working hypotheses; they operate automatically and the person feels he is doing the obvious or natural thing.

Paradigm Clash Between Straight and Hip

    Human beings become emotionally attached to the things that give them success and pleasure, and a scientist making important progress within a particular paradigm becomes emotionally attached to it. When data that make not sense in terms of the (implicit) paradigm are brought to his attention, the usual result is not a reevaluation of the paradigm, but a rejection or misperception of the data. This rejection seems rational to others sharing that paradigm and irrational or rationalizing to those committed to a different paradigm.
    The conflict now existing between those who have experienced certain d-ASCs (whose ranks include many young scientists) and those who have not is a paradigmatic conflict. For example, a subject takes LSD and tells his investigator, "You and I, we are all one, there are no separate selves." The investigator reports that his subject showed a "confused sense of identity and distorted thinking process." The subject is reporting what is obvious to him; the investigator is reporting what is obvious to him. The investigator's (implicit) paradigm, based on his scientific training, his cultural background, and his normal d-SoC, indicates that a literal interpretation of the subject's statement cannot be true and therefore the statement must be interpreted as mental dysfunction on the part of the subject. The subject, his paradigms radically changed for the moment by being in a d-ASC, not only reports what is obviously true to him, but perceives the investigator as showing mental dysfunction because he is incapable of perceiving the obvious!
    Historically, paradigm clashes have been characterized by bitter emotional antagonisms and total rejection of the opponent. Currently we see the same sort of process: the respectable psychiatrist, who would not take any of those "psychotomimetic" drugs himself or experience that crazy meditation process, carries out research to show that drug-takers and those who practice meditation are escapists. The drug-taker or meditater views the same investigator as narrow-minded, prejudiced, and repressive, and as a result drops out of the university. Communication between the two factions is almost nil.
    Must the experiencers of d-ASCs continue to see the scientists as concentrating on the irrelevant, and scientists see the experiencers as confused[3] or mentally ill? Or can science deal adequately with the experiencers of these people? The thesis I present is that we can deal with the important aspects of d-ASCs using the essence of scientific method, even though a variety of non-essentials, unfortunately identified with current science, hinder such an effort.

The Nature of Knowledge

    Science deals with knowledge. Knowledge may be defined as an immediately given experiential feeling of congruence between two different kinds of experience, a matching. One set of experiences may be regarded as perceptions of the external world, of others, of oneself; the second set may be regarded as a theory, a scheme, a system of understanding. The feeling of congruence is something immediately given in experience, although many refinements have been worked out for judging degrees of congruence.
    All knowledge, then, is basically experiential knowledge. Even my knowledge of the physical world can be reduced to this: given certain sets of experiences, which I (by assumption) attribute to activation of my sensory apparatus by the external world, I can compare them with purely internal experiences (memories, previous knowledge) and predict with a high degree of reliability other kinds of experiences, which I again attribute to the external world.
    Because science has been highly successful in dealing with the physical world, it has been historically associated with a philosophy of physicalism, the belief that reality is all reducible to certain kinds of physical entities. The vast majority of phenomena of d-ASCs have no known physical manifestations: thus to physicalistic philosophy they are epiphenomena, not worthy of study. But since science deals with knowledge, it need not restrict itself to physical kinds of knowledge.

The Essence of Scientific Method

    As satisfying as the feeling of knowing can be, we are often wrong: what seems like congruence at first, later does not match or has no generality. Man has learned that his reasoning is often faulty, his observations often incomplete or mistaken, and that emotional or other nonconscious factors can seriously distort both reasoning and observational processes. His reliance on authorities, "rationality," or elegance," are no sure criteria for achieving truth. The development of scientific method may be seen as a determined effort to systematize the process of acquiring knowledge in such a way as to minimize the pitfalls of observation and reasoning.
    There are four basic rules of scientific method to which an investigator is committed: (1) good observation, (2) the public nature of observation, (3) the necessity to theorize logically, and (4) the testing of theory by observable consequences. These constitute the scientific enterprise. I consider below the wider application of each rule to d-ASCs and indicate how unnecessary physicalistic restrictions may be dropped. I also show that all these commitments or rules can be accommodated in the development of state-specific sciences.

Observation

    The scientist is committed to observe as well as possible the phenomena of interest and to search constantly for better ways of making these observations. But his paradigmatic commitments, his d-SoCs, make him likely to observe certain parts of reality and to ignore or observe with error certain other parts of it.
    Many of the most important phenomena of d-ASCs have been observed poorly or not at all because of the physicalistic labeling of them as epiphenomena, so that they have been called "subjective," "ephemeral," "unreliable," or "unscientific." Observations of internal processes are probably much more difficult than those of external physical processes, because of their inherently greater complexity. The essence of science, however, is to observe what there is to observed, whether or not it is difficult.
    Furthermore, most of what is known about the phenomena of d-ASCs has been obtained from untrained people, almost none of whom have shared the scientist's commitment to constantly reexamine observations in greater and greater detail. This does not imply that internal phenomena are inherently unobservable or unstable; we are comparing the first observations of internal phenomena with observations of physical sciences that have undergone centuries of refinement.
    We must consider one other problem of observation. One of the traditional idols of science, the "detached observer," has no place in dealing with many internal phenomena of d-SoCs. Not only are the observer's perceptions selective, he may also affect the things he observes. We must try to understand the characteristics of each individual observer in order to compensate for them.
    A recognition of the unreality of the detached observer in the psychological sciences is becoming widespread, under the topics of experimenter bias {55} and demand characteristics {45}. A similar recognition long ago occurred in physics when it was realized that he observed was altered by the process of observation at subatomic levels. When we deal with d-ASCs where the observer is the experiencer of the d-ASC, this factor is of paramount importance. Not knowing the characteristics of the observer can also confound the process of consensual validation.

Public Nature of Observation

    Observations must be public in that they must be replicable by any properly trained observer. The experienced conditions that led to the report of certain experiences must be described in sufficient detail that others can duplicate them and consequently have experiences that meet criteria of identicality. That someone else may set up similar conditions but not have the same experiences proves that the original investigator gave an incorrect description of the conditions and observations, or that he was not aware of certain essential aspects of the conditions.
    The physicalistic accretion to this rule of consensual validation is that, physical data being the only "real" data, internal phenomena must be reduced to physiological or behavioral data to become reliable or they will be ignored entirely. I believe most physical observations to be much more readily replicable by any trained observer because they are inherently simpler phenomena than internal ones. In principle, however, consensual validation of internal phenomena by a trained observer is possible.
    The emphasis on public observations in science has had a misleading quality insofar as it implies that any intelligent man can replicate a scientists observations. This may have been true early in the history of science, but nowadays only the trained observer can replicate many observations. I cannot go into a modern physicist's laboratory and confirm his observations. Indeed, his talk of what he has found in his experiments (physicists seem to talk about innumerable invisible entities) would probably seem mystical to me, just as descriptions of internal states sound mystical to those with a background in the physical sciences.[4]
    Given the high complexity of the phenomena associated with d-ASCs, the need for replication by trained observers is exceptionally important. Since it generally takes four to ten years of intensive training to produce a scientist in any of the conventional disciplines, we should not be surprised that there has been little reliability of observations by untrained observers of d-ASC phenomena.
    Further, for the state-specific sciences I propose, we cannot specify the requirements that constitute adequate training. These can only be determined after considerable trial and error. We should also recognize that very few people may complete the training successfully. Some people do not have the necessary innate characteristics to become physicists, and some probably do not have the innate characteristics to become scientific investigators of meditative states.
    Public observation, then, always refers to a limited, specially trained public. It is only by basic agreement among those specially trained people that data become accepted as a foundation for the development of a science. That laymen cannot replicate the observations is of little relevance.
    A second problem in consensual validation arises from a phenomenon predicted by my concept of d-ASCs, but not yet empirically investigated: state-specific communication.Given that a d-ASC is an overall qualitative and quantitative shift in the complex functioning of consciousness, producing new logics and perceptions (which constitute a paradigm shift), it is quite reasonable to hypothesize that communication may take a different pattern. For two observers, both of whom, we assume, are fluent in communicating with each other in a given d-SoC, communication about some new observations may seem adequate or may be improved or deteriorated in specific ways. To an outside observer, an observer in a different d-SoC, the communication between these two observers may seem deteriorated.
    Practically all investigations of communication by persons in d-ASCs have resulted in reports of deterioration of communication abilities. In designing their studies, however, these investigators have not taken into account the fact that the pattern of communication may have changed. If I am listening to two people speaking in English, and they suddenly begin to intersperse words and phrases in Polish, I, as an outside (non-Polish-speaking) observer, note a gross deterioration in communication. Adequacy of communication between people in the same d-SoC and across d-SoCs must be empirically determined. This is discussed in Chapter 15.
    Thus consensual validation may be restricted by the fact that only observers in the same d-ASC are able to communicate adequately to each other. Someone in a different d-SoC, say normal consciousness, might find their communication incomprehensible.[5]

Theorizing

    A scientist may theorize about his observations as much as he wishes, but the theory he develops must consistently account for all he has observed and should have a logical structure that other scientists comprehend (but not necessarily accept).
    The requirement to theorize logically and consistently with the data is not as simply as it looks, however. Any logic consists of a basic set of assumptions and a set of rules for manipulating information based on these assumptions. Change the assumptions, or change the rules, and there may be entirely different outcomes from the same data. A paradigm, too, is a logic: it has certain assumptions and rules for working within these assumptions. By changing the paradigms, altering the d-SoC, the nature of theory-building may change radically. Thus a person in d-SoC 2 might come to a very different conclusions about the nature of the same events that he observed in d-SoC 1. An investigator in d-SoC 1 can comment on the comprehensibility of the second person's ideas form the point of view (paradigm) of d-SoC 1, but can say nothing about their inherent validity. A scientist who could enter either d-SoC 1 or d-SoC 2, however, could evaluate the comprehensibility of the other's theory and the adherence of that theory to the rules and logic of d-SoC 2. Thus, scientist trained to work in the same d-SoC can check on the logical validity of each other's theorizing. So we can have inter-observer validation of the state-specific logic underlying theorizing in various d-SoCs.

Observable Consequences

    Any theory a scientist develops must have observable consequences, it must be possible to make predictions that can be verified by observation. If such verification is not obtained, the theory must be considered invalid, regardless of its elegance, logic or other appeal.
    Ordinarily we think of empirical validation, validation in terms of testable consequences that produce physical effects, but this is misleading. Any effect, whether interpreted as physical or nonphysical, is ultimately an experience in the observer's mind. All that is essentially required to validate a theory is that it predict that when a certain experience (observed condition) has occurred, another (predicted) kind of experience will follow, under specified experiential conditions. Thus a perfectly scientific theory may be based on data that have no physical existence.

State-Specific Sciences

    We tend to envision the practice of science like this: centered around interest in some particular range of subject matter, a small number of highly selected, talented, and rigorously trained people spend considerable time making detailed observations on the subject matter of interest. They may or may not have special places (laboratories) or instruments or methods to assist them in making finer observations. They speak to one another in a special language that they feel conveys precisely the important facts of their field. Using this language, they confirm and extend each other's knowledge of certain data basic to the field. They theorize about their basic data and construct elaborate systems. They validate these by recourse to further observation. These trained people all have a long-term commitment to the constant refinement of observation and extension of theory. Their activity is frequently incomprehensible to laymen.
    This general description is equally applicable to a variety of sciences or areas that could become sciences, whether we called such areas biology, physics, chemistry, psychology, understanding of mystical states, or drug-induced enhancement of cognitive processes. The particulars of research look different, but the basic scientific method is the same.
    I propose the creation of various state-specific sciences. If such sciences can be created we will have a group of highly skilled, dedicated, and trained practitioners able to achieve certain d-SoCs, and able to agree with one another that they have attained a common state. While in that d-SoC, they can investigate other areas of interest—totally internal phenomena of that given state, the interaction of that state with external physical reality, or people in other d-SoCs.
    The fact that the experimenter can function skillfully in the d-SoC itself for a state-specific science does not necessarily mean he must always be the subject. While he may often be the subject, observer, and experimenter simultaneously, it is quite possible for him to collect data from experimental manipulations of other subjects in the d-SoC, and either be in that d-SoC himself at the time of data collection or be in that d-SoC himself for data reduction and theorizing.
    Examples of some observations made and theorizing done by a scientist in a specific d-ASC would illustrate the nature of a proposed state-specific science. But this is not possible because no state-specific sciences have yet been established.[6] Also, any example that would make good sense to the readers of this chapter (who are, presumably, all in an ordinary d-SoC) would not really illustrate the uniqueness of state-specific science. If it did make sense, it would be an example of a problem that could be approached adequately from both the d-ASC and our ordinary terms of accepted scientific procedures for our ordinary d-SoC and miss the point about the necessity for developing state-specific sciences.

State-Specific Sciences and Religion

    Some aspects of organized religion appear to resemble state-specific sciences. There are techniques that allow that believer to enter a d-ASC and then have religious experiences in that d-ASC that are proof of his religious belief. People who have had such experiences usually describe them as ineffable, not fully comprehensible in an ordinary d-SoC. Conversions at revival meetings are the most common examples of religious experiences occurring in d-ASCs induced by an intensely emotional atmosphere.
    The esoteric training systems of some religions seem to have even more resemblance to state-specific sciences. Often there are devoted specialists, complex techniques, and repeated experiencing of the d-ASCs in order to further religious knowledge.
    Nevertheless, the proposed state-specific sciences are not simply religion in a new guise. The use of d-ASCs in religion may involve the kind of commitment to searching for truth that is need for developing a state-specific science, but practically all the religions we know can mainly be defined as state-specific technologies, operated in the service of a prior belief systems. The experiencers of d-ASCs in most religious contexts have already been thoroughly indoctrinated in a particular belief system. This belief system may then mold the content of the d-ASCs to create specific experiences that reinforce or validate the belief system.
    The crucial distinction between a religion utilizing d-ASCs and a state-specific science is the commitment of the scientist to reexamine constantly his own belief system and to question the "obvious," in spite of its intellectual or emotional appeal to him. Investigators of d-ASCs will certainly encounter an immense variety of phenomena labeled religious experience or mystical revelation during the development of state-specific sciences, but they must remain committed to examining these phenomena more carefully, sharing their observations and techniques with colleagues, and subjecting the beliefs (hypotheses, theories) that result from such experiences to the requirement of leading to testable predictions. In practice, because we are aware of the immense emotional power of mystical experiences, this is a difficult task, but it is one that must be undertaken by disciplined investigators if we are to understand various d-ASCs.[7]

Relationship Between State-Specific Sciences

    Any (state-specific) science may be considered as consisting of two parts: observations and theories. The observations are what can be experienced relatively directly: the theories are the inferences about what nonobservable factors account for the observations. For example, the phenomenon of synesthesia (seeing colors as a result of hearing sounds) is a theoretical proposition for me in my ordinary d-SoC; I do not experience it and can only generate theories about what other people report about it. If I were under the influence of psychedelic drug such as LSD or marijuana {105}, I could probably experience synesthesia directly, and my descriptions of the experience would become data. 
    Figure 16-1 (reprinted from C. Tart, Science, 1972, 176 1203-1210, by permission of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) demonstrates some possible relationships between three state-specific sciences. State-specific sciences 1 and 2 show considerable overlap.
    The area labeled O1O2 permits direct observation in both sciences. Area T1T2 permits theoretical inferences about common subject matter from the two perspectives. In area O1T2, by contrast, the theoretical propositions of state-specific science 2 are matters of direct observation for the scientist in d-SoC 1, and vice versa for the area T1O2. State-specific science 3 consists of a body of observation and theory exclusive to that science and has no overlap with the two other sciences: it does not confirm, contradict, or complement them.
    It would be naively reductionistic to say that the work in one state-specific science validates or invalidates the work in a second state-specific science; I prefer to say that two different state-specific sciences, where they overlap, provide quite different points of view with respect to certain kinds of theories and data, and thus complement[8] each other. The proposed creation state-specific sciences neither validates nor invalidates the activities or normal consciousness sciences. The possibility of developing certain state-specific sciences means only that certain kinds of phenomena may be handled more adequately within these potential new sciences.
    Interrelationships more complex than these illustrated in Fig. 16-1 are possible.
    The possibility of stimulating interactions between different state-specific sciences is very real. Creative breakthroughs in normal consciousness sciences have frequently been made by scientists temporarily in a d-ASC {18}. In such instances, the scientists concerned saw quite different views of their problems and performed different kinds of reasoning, conscious or nonconscious, which led to results that could be tested within their normal consciousness science.
    A current example of such interaction is the finding that in Zen meditation (a highly developed discipline in Japan) there are physiological correlates of meditative experiences, such as decreased frequency of alpha-rhythm, which can also be produced by means of instrumentally aided feedback-learning techniques {23}. This finding may elucidate some of the processes peculiar to each discipline.

Individual Differences

    A widespread and misleading assumption that hinders the development of state-specific sciences and confuses their interrelationships is the assumption that because two people are "normal" (not certified insane), their ordinary d-SoCs are essentially the same. In reality I suspect that there are enormous differences between the d-SoCs of some normal people. Because societies train people to behave and communicate along socially approved lines, these differences are obscured.
    For example, some people think in images, others in words. Some can voluntarily anesthetize parts of their body, most cannot. Some recall past events by imaging the scene and looking at the relevant details; others use complex verbal processes with no images.
    This means that person A may be able to observe certain kinds of experiential data that person B cannot experience in his ordinary d-SoC, no matter how hard B tries. There may be several consequences. Person B may think A is insane, too imaginative, or a liar, or he may feel inferior to A. Person A may also feel himself odd, if he takes B as a standard of normality.
    B may be able to enter a d-ASC and there experience the sorts of things A has reported to him. A realm of knowledge that is ordinary for A is then specific for a d-ASC for B. Similarly, some of the experiences of B in his d-ASC may not be available for direct observation by A in his ordinary d-SoC.
    The phenomenon of synesthesia can again serve as an example. Some individuals possess this ability in their ordinary d-SoC, most do not. Yet 56 percent of a sample of experienced marijuana users experienced synesthesia at least occasionally {105} while in the drug-induced d-ASC.
    Thus bits of knowledge that are specific for a d-ASC for one individual may be part of ordinary consciousness for another. Arguments over the usefulness of the concept of states of consciousness may reflect differences in the structure of the ordinary d-SoC of various investigators, as we discussed in Chapter 9.
    Another important source of individual differences, little understood at present, is the degree to which an individual can first make an observation or form a concept in one d-SoC and then reexperience or comprehend it in another d-SoC. Many items of information hat were state-specific when observed initially may be learned and somehow transferred (fully or partially) to another d-SoC. Differences across individuals, various combinations of d-SoCs, and types of experience are probably enormous.
    I have outlined only the complexities created by individuals differences in normal d-SoCs and have used the normal d-SoC as a baseline for comparison with d-ASCs, but it is evident that every d-SoC must eventually be compared against every other d-SoC.

Problems, Pitfalls, and Personal Perils

    If we use the practical experience of Western man with d-ASCs as a guide, the development of state-specific sciences will be beset by a number of difficulties. These difficulties will be of two kinds: general methodological problems stemming from the inherent nature of some d-ASCs, and those concerned with personal perils to the investigator.

State-Related Problems

    The first important problem in the proposed development of state-specific sciences is the "obvious" perception of truth. In many d-ASCs, one's experience is what one is obviously and lucidly experiencing truth directly without question. An immediate result of this may be an extinction of the desire for further questioning. Further, this experience of "obvious" truth, while not necessarily preventing the investigator from further examining his data, may not arouse his desire for consensual validation. Since one of the greatest strengths of science is its insistence on consensual validation of basic data, this can be a serious drawback. Investigators attempting to develop state-specific sciences must learn to distrust the obvious.
    A second major problem in developing state-specific sciences is that in some d-ASCs one's abilities to visualize and imagine are immensely enhanced, so that whatever one imagines seems perfectly real. Thus one can imagine that something is being observed and experience it as datum. If the scientist can conjure up anything he wishes, how can he ever get at truth?
    One approach to this problem is to consider any such vivid imaginings as potential effects: they are data in the sense that what can be vividly imagined in a d-SoC is important to know. It may be that not everything can be imagined with equal facility and relationships between what can be imagined may show a lawful pattern.
    Another approach is to realize that this problem is not unique to d-ASCs. One can have illusions and misperceptions in the ordinary d-SoC. Before the rise of modern physical science, all sorts of things were imagined about the nature of the physical world that could not be directly refuted. The same techniques that eliminated these illusions in the physical sciences can also eliminate them in state-specific sciences dealing with nonphysical data. All observations must be subjected to consensual validation and all their theoretical consequences must be examined. Those that do not show consistent patterns and cannot be replicated can be distinguished from those phenomena that do show general lawfulness across individuals.
    The effects of this enhanced vividness of imagination in some d-ASCs will be complicated further by two other problems: experimenter bias {45, 55} and the fact that one person's illusion in a given d-ASC can sometimes be communicated to another person in the same d-ASC so that a false consensual validation results. Again, the only long-term solution is the requirements that predictions based on concepts arising from various experiences be verified experientially.
    A third major problem is that state-specific sciences probably cannot be developed for all d-ASCs: some d-ASCs may depend or result from genuine deterioration of observational and reasoning abilities or from a deterioration of volition. But the development of each state-specific science should result from trial and error, and not from a priori decisions based on reasoning in the ordinary d-SoC that would rule out attempts to develop a science for some particular state.
    A fourth major problem is that of ineffability. Some experiences are ineffable in the sense that (1) a person may experience them, but be unable to express or conceptualize them adequately to himself.; (2) while a person may be able to conceptualize an experiencer to himself he may not be able to communicate it adequately to anyone else. Certain phenomena of the first type may simply be inaccessible to scientific investigation. Phenomena of the second type may be accessible to scientific investigation only insofar as we are willing to recognize that a science, in the sense of following most of the basic rules, may exist only for a single person. Since such a solitary science lacks all the advantages gained by consensual validation, we cannot expect it to have as much power and rigor as conventional scientific endeavor.
    Many phenomena that are now considered ineffable may not be so in reality. Their apparent ineffability may be a function of general lack of experience with d-ASCs and the lack of an adequate language for communicating about d-ASC phenomena. In most well-developed languages the major part of the vocabulary was developed primarily in adaptation to survival in the physical world.[9]
    Finally, various phenomena of d-ASCs may be too complex for human beings to understand. The phenomena may depend on or be affected by so many variables that we can never understand them. In the history of science, however, many phenomena that appeared too complex at first eventually became comprehensible.

Personal Perils

    The personal perils an investigator faces in attempting develop a state-specific science are of two kinds: those associated with reactions colloquially called a bad trip and a good trip.
    Bad trips, in which an extremely unpleasant emotional reaction is experienced in a d-ASC, and from which there are possible one-term adverse consequences on personal adjustment, often occur because upbringing has not prepared us to undergo radical alterations in our ordinary d-SoC. We depend on stability, we fear the unknown, and we develop personal rigidities and various kinds of personal and social taboos. It is traditional in our society to consider d-ASCs as signs of insanity; d-ASCs therefore can cause great fear in those who experience them.
    In many d-ASCs, defenses against unacceptable personal impulses become partially or wholly ineffective, so that the person feels flooded with traumatic material he cannot handle. All these things result in fear and avoidance of d-ASCs, and make it difficult or impossible for some individuals to function in a d-ASC in a way that is consistent without he development of state-specific science. Maslow {36} discusses these as pathologies of cognition that seriously interfere without the scientific enterprise in general, as well ordinary life. In principle, adequate selection and training can minimize these hazards for at least some people.
    Good trips may also endanger an investigator. A trip may produce experiences so rewarding that they interfere with the scientific activity of the investigator. The perception of "obvious" truth and its effect of eliminating the need for further investigation or consensual validation have already been mentioned. Another peril comes from the ability to imagine or create vivid experiences. They may be so highly rewarding that the investigator does not follow the rule of investigating the obvious regardless of his personal satisfaction with results. Similarly, his attachment to good feelings, ecstasy, and the like, and his refusal to consider alternative conceptualizations of these, can stifle the progress of investigation.
    These personal perils emphasize the necessity of developing adequate training programs for scientists who wish to develop state-specific sciences. Although such a training program is difficult to envision, it is evident that much conventional scientific training is contrary to what is needed to develop a state-specific science, because it tends to produce rigidity and avoidance of personal involvement with subject matter, rather than open-mindedness and flexibility. Much of the training program must be devoted to the scientist's understanding of himself so that the (unconscious) effects of his personal biases are minimized during his investigations of a d-ASC.
    There are scientists who, after becoming personally involved with d-ASCs, have subsequently become poor scientists or have experienced personal psychological crises. It is premature, however, to conclude that such unfortunate consequences cannot be avoid by proper training and discipline. In the early history of the physical sciences many scientist were fanatics who were nonobjective about their investigations. Not all experiencers of d-ASCs develop pathology as a result: indeed, many seem to become considerably more mature. Given the current social climate, we hear of the failures, but not the successes. Only from actual attempts to develop state-specific sciences can we determine the actual d-SoCs that are suitable for development and the kinds of people best suited to such work.[10]

Prospects

    I believe that an examination of human history and our current situation provides the strongest argument for the need to develop state-specific sciences. Throughout history man has been influenced by the spiritual and mystical factors expressed (usually in watered-down form) in the religions that attract the masses. Spiritual and mystical experiences are primary phenomena of various d-ASCs: because of such experiences, untold numbers of both the noblest and most horrible acts of which men are capable have been committed. Yet in all the time that Western science as existed, no concerted attempt has been made to understand these d-ASC phenomena in scientific terms.
    Many hoped that religions were simply a form of superstition that would be left behind in our "rational" age. Not only has this hope failed, but our own understanding of the nature of reasoning now makes it clear that it can never be fulfilled. Reason is a tool, a tool that is yielded in the service of assumptions, beliefs and needs that are not themselves subject to reason. The irrational, or better, the arational, will not disappear from the human situation. Our immense success in the development of the physical sciences has not been particularly successful in formulating better philosophies of life or increasing our real knowledge of ourselves. The sciences we have developed to date are not very human sciences. They tell us how to do things, but give us no scientific insights on questions of what to do, what not to do, or why to do things.
    The youth of today and mature scientists are turning to meditation, Oriental religions, and personal use of psychedelic drugs in increasing numbers. The phenomena encountered in these d-ASCs provide more satisfaction and are more relevant to the formulation of philosophies of life and decisions about appropriate ways of living, than "pure reason" {40}. My own impressions are that large numbers of scientists are now personally exploring d-ASCs, but few have begun to connect this personal exploration with their scientific activities.
    It is difficult to predict the chances of delving state-specific sciences. Our knowledge is still to diffuse ad dependent on the normal d-SoC. Yet I think it is probable that state-specific sciences can be developed for such d-ASCs as autohypnosis, meditative states, lucid dreaming, marijuana intoxication, LSD intoxication, self-remembering, reverie, and biofeedback-induced states {88 or 115}. In all these d-ASCs, volition seems to be retained, so that the observer can indeed carry out experiments on himself or others or both. Some d-ASCs, in which the volition to experiment during the state may disappear, but in which some experimentation can be carried out if special conditions are prepared before the state is entered, are alcohol intoxication, ordinary dreaming, hypnagogic and hypnopompic states, and high dreams {88 or 115}. It is not clear whether other d-ASCs are suitable for developing state-specific sciences or whether mental deterioration is too great. Such questions can only be answered by experiment.
    I have nothing against religious and mystical groups. Yet I suspect that the vast majority of them have developed compelling belief systems rather than state-specific sciences. Will scientific method be extended to the development of state-specific sciences to improve our human situation? Or will the immense power of d-ASCs be left in the hands of many cults and sects?

Footnotes

    [1] I originally presented the proposal for state-specific sciences in an article in Science {119}. Most of it is reprinted here with the permission of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. I have updated the text and terminology to fit the rest of this book. (back)
    [2] Note that a d-SoC is defined by the stable parameters of the pattern that constitute it, not by the particular technique of inducing that pattern. (back)
    [3] States of confusion and impaired functioning may certainly be aspects of some drug-induced d-ASCs for some people, but are not of primary interest here. (back)
    [4] The degree to which a science can seem incomprehensible, even ridiculous, to someone not specializing in it never ceases to astound me. I have always thought I had a good general background in science. So much so that, for example, I was able to appreciate some of the in-group humor in an article I read in Science some years ago about quarks.Quarks? Yes, quarks. To me, the article was obviously a put-on, about how physicists were hunting for particles no one had ever seen, called quarks. Much of the humor was too technical for me to understand, but I was pleased that a staid journal like Science could unbend enough to publish humor. Of course, it was not humor. Physicists are very serious about quarks, even though no one has ever detected one with certainty (at least not yet, despite an awful lot of research). (back)
    [5] A state-specific scientist might find his own work somewhat incomprehensible when he was not in his work d-ASC because of the phenomenon of state-specific memory.Not enough of his work would transfer to his ordinary d-SoC to make it comprehensible, even though it would again make perfect sense when he was again in the d-ASC in which he did his scientific work. (back)
    [6] "Ordinary consciousness science" is not a good example of a pure state-specific science because many important discoveries have occurred during d-ASCs such as reverie, dreaming, and meditative states. (back)
    [7] The idea of state-specific knowledge, introduced earlier, casts some light on an aspect of organized religions, the "dryness" of theology. Consider the feeling so many, both inside and outside organized religion, have had that theology is intellectual hair-splitting, an activity irrelevant to what religion is all about. I believe this is true in many cases, and the reason is that the essence of much religion is state-specific knowledge, knowledge that can really be known only in a d-ASC. The original founders of the religion know certain things in a d-ASC, they talk about them in the ordinary d-SoC. They realize the words are a poor reflection of the direct experiential knowledge, but the words are all they have to talk with. As the generations pass, more and more theologians who have no direct knowledge of what the words are about discuss the meaning of the words at greater and greater length, and the divergence of the words from the original state-specific knowledge becomes greater and greater.
    There are warnings in some religious literature {128} not to take the words literally, to use them only as pointers of the direction experience must go, but our culture is so fascinated with words that we seldom heed such warnings.
    So perhaps ideas like "we are all one" or "love pervades the entire universe" cannot be adequately comprehended in the ordinary d-SoC, no matter how hard we try, although they may appropriately affect our thoughts and actions in the ordinary d-SoC if we have first experienced them, understood them, in the appropriate d-ASC. (back)
    [8] The term complement is used in a technical sense here, as it is in physics, meaning that each of two explanatory systems deals well with overlapping data areas, but neither disproves the other and neither can be incorporated into some more comprehensive theoretical system as a special case. For example, the electron can be treated adequately as a wave or as a particle. The wave theory handles some kinds of data better than the particle theory, and vice versa. (back)
    [9] Note too that we are a hyperverbal culture, so ineffable essentially means not communicable in words. But there are other forms of communication. Riding a bicycle or swimming are both ineffable, in the sense that I have never seen a good verbal description of either, but they can be taught. Ornstein {47} presents convincing data that the right hemisphere of the brain specializes in nonverbal functioning, and argues that many of the seemingly exotic techniques of Eastern spiritual disciplines are actually ways of communicating and teaching in the nonverbal mode. (back)
    [10] The d-ASCs resulting from very dangerous drugs may be scientifically interesting, but the risk may be too high to warrant developing state-specific sciences for them. The personal and social issues involved in evaluating this kind of risk are beyond the scope of this book.



17.   Higher States of Consciousness



A common reaction to the proposal for creating state-specific sciences is that the project is not necessary, that there is already a superior d-SoC for understanding things. Orthodox scientists {122} aver that the ordinary, "normal" d-SoC is the best, most rational d-SoC possible, so we need only continue the scientific research already begun in that state to ultimately find answers to all our questions. On the other hand, some people who have experienced d-ASCs believe that there are higher d-SoCs in which Truth can be directly known so we need not develop sciences in these d-SoCs, only experience them: ultimately we can experience states of enlightenment in which all that is worth knowing or attaining is known and attained.
    However, the feeling of being in direct contact with the Truth is no guarantee that such contact has actually been achieved. Such feelings are a part of being human, but such "certain truths," when acted upon, often turn out to be false. They do not work. A primary rule of science is that you must test your understandings against the observable area of reality/experience to which they apply: if observed experience does not tally with the prediction of your truth/theory/understanding, then your truth/theory/understanding is false or needs revision. Scientifically, we cannot broadly assume that any particular d-SoC is higher, in the sense of supplying more insight into truth; we must study and test the various aspects of various d-SoCs in detail. Since a principal task of science is reliable, detailed description, it seems preferable to discard the idea of higher states altogether at this stage and concentrate on description.
    Yet since experiences of d-ASCs often describe them as higher or lower states, we should, to be adequately descriptive, examine more closely the idea of higher states.
    What does a person mean when he says, "I'm high" or "I'm in a higher state of consciousness"?
    On its simplest level, the statement "I'm high" simply means that I feel better now that I did under some other condition. If I had a bad toothache a few minutes ago, and now the pain has stopped, I can say that now I'm high. I feel much better than before. If I am neurotic in my ordinary d-SoC and suffer constant tensions, fears, and anxieties, and I get drunk and feel good, again I can say I'm high by comparison. To reverse this, if I become frightened or feel sick when I am drunk, I can use the phrase "I'm high" to describe my ordinary d-SoC in which I do not feel frightened or sick.
    If, then, we clearly describe the reference states and the way in which the current state differs from it, the statement "I'm high" is a useful relative description. Unfortunately, people usually employ the phrase without any clear description of the reference state or the specific way in which the current condition differ from it. Add to this the great individual differences in ordinary d-SoCs, and the degree to which the common language of consensus reality glosses over these differences, and you can see that "I'm high" is usually an ambiguous phrase indicating only that I feel better than in some other, unknown condition. Perhaps I am in a state of fear and anxiety now and that is better than the terror I experienced a few minutes ago, or perhaps I feel blissfully at one with the whole cosmos.

Higher and Lower d-SoCs

    There is a more specific use of the adjectives higher and lower, where the user envisions some absolute ordering of d-SoCs on a value scale. Thus higher and lower become much more specific, less relative, terms. Five such value scales are discussed below. None are scientific scales in the sense of being subjected to prolonged and precise scrutiny by groups of scientists; no such scales exist at this stage of our knowledge. 
    The first value scale is depicted in Figure 17-1. It is the value-scaling of d-SoCs implicitly held by most Western intellectuals. I stress that it is held implicitly: it is conveyed along with the general value system of our society in the enculturation process, without need for a teacher to say explicitly, "Complete rationality is our goal and anything less than that is an inferior, lower state of consciousness."
    The primary value in this scheme is rationality, adherence to logic and values our culture believes are true. The scheme recognizes that the ordinary state is occasionally neurotic, in that rationality is often replaced by rationalization of processes based on unconscious drives and emotions. If only we could be cured of these occasional neurotic flaws, it is reasoned, we could be completely rational (although we do not like "completely rational" to being equated with being computerlike). Dreaming is a lower d-SoC because there are many logical flaws in it and the dreamer is out of touch with (consensus) reality. Psychotic states[1] are even lower in these ways, and toxic psychoses (states induced by major poisonings) are usually the most irrational and out-of-touch states of all.
    Some ambivalent recognition is given to the value of creative states, so they are shown between ordinary rationality and dreaming. Most intellectuals consider such creative states the province of artists or fringe intellectuals, not themselves, and, since these states are associated with emotionality, they are viewed ambivalently. Marijuana intoxication is generally valued about the same as dreaming: it is irrational and out of touch, but probably not too harmful. Psychedelic-drug-induced changes in consciousness are considered more dangerous and out of touch, like psychoses.
    This ordering of these conditions and d-SoCs is not scientific for it has never been made explicit and subjected to detailed examination to determine how well it orders reality. Further, its implicitness under ordinary circumstances makes it a barrier to better understanding. When a value system or a set of assumptions is implicit, you do not know you have it, so you do not question its value. You automatically perceive and think in terms of the value/assumption system. For example, anything said by a person labeled "psychotic" must be viewed as a sign of his craziness, not to be taken at face value. Patients are crazy; the doctors are sane.
    Many individuals have valuations of d-SoCs somewhat different from the scheme shown in Figure 17-1, of course, but this generally represents the d-SoC valuation system of most intellectuals, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and scientists—the people thought to be authorities in these matters. 
    A quite different valuing of d-SoCs is held by many people we can call hip. As is true of the orthodox ordering, there important individual exceptions, but the scheme fits many people, especially the young. If you are a parent whose valuation system is orthodox you may well have experienced some bitter arguments with your sons or daughters whose valuation system is hip.
    In this system (Figure 17-2) the highest states are mystical experiences, often experienced in conjunction with psychedelic-drug-induced states of meditative states. Creative states and marijuana intoxication are next in value, and some of the experiences of the higher states can be achieved in them, albeit at reduced intensity. Then comes an open or loose rationality, an ordinary d-SoC in which, because you do not take too seriously the apparent rationality of your culture's consensus reality. You can function well enough in an ordinary d-SoC, but you do not value that d-SoC as highly as do those who have no other reference experiences of higher states.
    Ordinary, neurotically flawed rationality is the next lower state. A state of complete rationality is valued somewhere between open and ordinary rationality, a reflection of existing suspicion of a totally unemotional, computerlike state. Dreaming is generally considered somewhat lower than ordinary rationality, although it is recognized that some dreams can be inspired; psychoses and toxic psychoses are at the bottom of the value continuum. As with dreaming, there is recognition that psychotic states can sometimes be very high, however.
    Which of these two value continua is true? Which is more useful?
    Neither. In neither have details about each state and the performance potential with respect to specific tasks in each state been clarified.
    Can you argue that the orthodox ordering is more workable for surviving in consensus reality? What about those other adherents to the relatively high state of ordinary rationality who order napalm dropped on children to protect them from________ (fill in your favorite-ism)? Can you argue that the hip ordering is better for realizing oneself? What about all the starving children in countries like India, where mystical states have long been considered the highest by cultural norms? Or the near total failure rate of communes of American young people who accept the hip value ordering?
    I offer not answers to these questions. Indeed, the questions and examples I have chosen are designed to illustrate how poor our understanding is at present. Higher or lower for what specific thing? That is the question we must keep constantly in mind.

Three Explicit Orderings

    Three systems for value-ordering d-SoCs are described below to illustrate that explicit and detail orderings are possible. Two are from the Buddhist tradition and one from the Arica traditions. While none of these is scientific, each is capable of being cast as a scientific theory and tested.
    Figure 17-3 presents an ordering of nine d-SoCs that are all higher than ordinary consciousness. These are d-SoCs[2] to be obtained sequentially in seeking enlightenment through a path of concentrative meditation in Buddhism.
    The underlying value dimension here might be called freedom. The Buddha taught that the ordinary state is one of suffering and entrapment in the forms and delusions of our own minds. The root cause of this suffering is attachment, the (automatized) desire to prolong pleasure and avoid pain. The journey along the Path of Concentration starts when the meditater tries to focus attention on some particular object of concentration. As he progresses, his concentration becomes more subtle and powerful and he eventually moves from formed experiences (all form has the seeds of illusion in it) to a series of formless states, culminating in the eighth jhana, where there is neither perception nor nonperception of anything.
    Figure 17-4 illustrates another succession of higher states within the Buddhist framework. Here the technique involves not one-pointed, successively refined concentration, but successively refined states of insight into the ultimate nature of one's own mind. Starting from either the state of Access Concentration (where ability to focus is quite high) or the state of Bare Insight (proficiency in noticing internal experiences), the meditater becomes increasingly able to observe the phenomena of the mind, and to see their inherently unsatisfactorily character. The ultimate goal is a state called nirodh, which is beyond awareness itself. Nirodh is the ultimate accomplishment in this particular version of Buddhism, higher than the eighth jhana on the Path of Concentration. The reader interested in more detail about these Buddhist orderings should consult Daniel Goleman's chapter toTranspersonal Psychologies {128}.
    The third ordering (Figure 17-5) is John Lilly's conceptualization of the system taught by Oscar Ichazo in Arica, Chile. More background is available in the chapter by John Lilly and Joseph Harts in Transpersonal Psychologies {128}, as well as in Lilly's Center of the Cyclone {35}.
    In the Arica ordering the value dimension is one of freedom and of which psychic center dominates consciousness. The numerical designation of each state indicates the number of cosmic laws supposedly governing that state, as expounded by Gurdjieff (see Kathy Riordan's chapter on Gurdjieff in Transpersonal Psychologies {128} and Ouspensky {48}), with a plus sign indicating positive valuation of that state. For example, in the +3 state only three laws govern; a person is less free in the +6 state, where six law govern. A minus sign indicates negative emotions. Thus the ordinary d-SoC, the-24 state, is a neurotic one of pain, guilt, fear, and other negative emotions. The-24 state is also under 96 laws, making it less free, as the number of governing laws doubles at each lower level.
    Lilly notes that this ordering of highness does not hold for all possible tasks in this scheme. The +12 state and higher, for instance, involve a progressive loss of contact with external reality and so become lower states if one has to perform some external task like driving a car or eating.
    Now, is the +24 state higher or lower than the sixth jhana? Is the state of realization on the Path of Insight higher or lower than the +3 state? Which state in these three orderings is best for coping with the world food shortage? For understanding an artist's message? For dying?
    Arguing a particular answer to any one of these or similar questions involves first fully understanding the system that defines one state, and then fully understanding the system that defines the other state. We must grasp the many implicit assumptions that underlie the world-view of each system. If we do not, we waste our time using common words that carry dissimilar implicit assumptions. When we understand the world-views behind these systems, we still must examine how well each system orders the experience/realities of its own practitioners and how well it orders and explains experiences by nonpractitioners.
    What, then, is a higher state of consciousness? It is something many of us long for; it is something some of us have put into our value ordering systems; it is a reality that exists under various sets of circumstances. But it is not something we can handle well scientifically, at least not at this stage of our knowledge. But we can begin by making our system of valuing states explicit.

Foototes

    [1] I use "state" very loosely in this chapter, for we do not know whether all of these value-ordered "states" arc stable d-SoCs. (back)
    [2] We do not know enough about these states in scientific terms to be sure whether they represent nine d-SoCs with the quantum jump between each or a smaller number of d-SoCs, some of whose distinctions actually are differences in depth within a d-SoC For purposes of discussion here, however, we will assume these jhana states, and the states described in Figures 17-4 and 17-5, are all d-SoCs. (back)

Figure 17-3.
Higher states of consciousness on the
Buddhist Path of Concentration

(back to text)
HIGH
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VALUE
  DIMENSION 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
LOW
8th JHANA
Neither perception nor nonperception,
equanimity and one-pointedness.
  FORMLESS 
STATES
7th JHANA
Awareness of no-thingness
equanimity and one-pointedness.
6th JHANA
Objectless infinite consciousness,
equanimity and one-pointedness.
5th JHANA
Consciousness of infinite space,
equanimity and one-pointedness.
4th JHANA
Equanimity and one-pointedness, bliss,
all feelings of bodily pleasure cease.
  MATERIAL 
STATES
3rd JHANA
Feelings of bliss, one-pointedness, and
equanimity. Rapture ceases.
2nd JHANA
Feelings of rapture, bliss, one-pointedness.
No thought of primary object of concentration.
1st JHANA
Hindering thoughts, sensory perception, and awareness of
painful bodily states all cease. Initial and unbroken sustained
attention to primary object of concentration, feelings of
rapture, bliss, and one-pointedness
ACCESS STATE
Hindering thoughts overcome, other thoughts remain. Awareness
  of sensory inputs and body states, primary object of concentration 
dominates thought. Feelings of rapture, happiness, equanimity.
Initial and sustained thoughts of primary object.
Flashes of light or bodily lightness.

Figure 17-4.
Higher states of consciousness on the
Buddhist Path of Insight

(back to text)
HIGH
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VALUE
  DIMENSION 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
LOW
NIRODH
Total cessation of consciousness.
EFFORTLESS INSIGHT
Contemplation is quick, effortless, indefatigable.
Instantaneous knowledge of Anatta, Anicca, Dukkha.
Cessation of pain, pervasive equanimity
REALIZATION
  Realizations of the dreadful, unsatisfactory, and wearisome nature of physical and 
mental phenomena, physical pain, arising of desire to escape these phenomena.
Perception of vanishing of mind and objects, perception fast and
flawless, disappearance of lights, rapture, etc.
PSEUDONIRVANA
Clear perception of the arising and passing of each successive mind moment,
accompanied by various phenomena such as brilliant light, rapturous feelings,
tranquility, devotion, energy, happiness, strong mindfulness, equanimity toward
objects of contemplation. Quick and clear perception,
and attachment to these newly arisen states.
STAGE OF REFLECTIONS
These processes seen as neither pleasant nor reliable. Experience of Dukkha,
unsatisfactoriness. These processes are seen to arise and pass away at every
moment of contemplation. Experience of Anicca. Impermanence. These
dual processes are seen as devoid of self. Experience of Anatta, not-self,
as distinct and separate processes.
MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness of bodily function, physical
sensations, mental states, or mind objects.
    ACCESS CONCENTRATION   
Previous attainment of access.
Concentration on path of
concentration
BARE INSIGHT
  Achievement of ability to notice all phenomena 
of mind, to point where interfering thoughts
do not seriously disturb practice.


Figure 17-5.
Higher states of consciousness in the Arica system.
Some still lower states are not shown.

HIGH
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VALUE
  DIMENSION 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
LOW
+3
Classical Satori. Fusion with Universal Mind, union with God, being
one of the creators of energy from the void. Functioning in the Ma'h
spiritual center above the head.
+6
Being a point source of consciousness, energy, light, and love.
Astral travel and other PSI phenomena. Fusion with other entities
in time. Functioning in the path mental center in the head.
+12
Blissful, Christ-attuned state. Reception of Baraka (Divine Grace),
cosmic love, cosmic energy, heightened bodily awareness. Highest function
of bodily and planetside consciousness, being in love, being in a positive LSD
energy state. Functioning in the Oth emotional center in the chest.
+24
Professional Satori or basic Satori. All the needed programs are in
the unconscious of the biocomputer, operating smoothly: The self is lost
in pleasurable activities that one knows best and likes to do. Functioning
in the Kath moving center in the lower belly.
+/-48
The neutral biocomputer state. Absorption and transmission of new ideas,
  reception and transmission of new data and new programs, doing, teaching, 
and learning with maximum facility. Emotionally neutral.
On the earth, excellent reality contact.
-24
Neurotic states, negative states: Pain, guilt, fear, doing what one
has to do but in a state of pain, guilt, fear. Slightly too much alcohol,
small amount of opium, or first stages of lack of sleep.

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