Altered state of consciousness
An altered state of consciousness (ASC), also called altered state of mind, is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking beta wave state. The expression was used as early as 1966 by Arnold M. Ludwig and brought into common usage from 1969 by Charles Tart. It describes induced changes in one's mental state, almost always temporary. A synonymous phrase is "altered state of awareness".
An altered state of consciousness can come about accidentally through, for example, fever, infections such as meningitis, sleep deprivation, fasting, oxygen deprivation, nitrogen narcosis (deep diving), psychosis, temporal lobe epilepsy or a traumatic accident. Altered states of consciousness also occur in healthy women experiencing childbirth, hence the introduction of the term gender-specific states of consciousness.
An ASC can sometimes be reached intentionally by the use of sensory deprivation, an isolation tank, sleep deprivation, lucid dreaming, hypnosis, meditation, prayer, or disciplines (e.g. Mantra Meditation, Yoga, Sufism, dream yoga.)
ASCs can also be attained through the ingestion of psychoactive drugs such as alcohol and opiates, but more commonly with traditional hallucinogens of indigenous cultures, plants such as cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, Peyote, and Ayahuasca. Other modern hallucinogens that some attempt to use for a similar purpose are (D)-methorphan, LSD-25, substituted phenethylamines, substituted tryptamines, and substituted amphetamines such as those listed in the books PiHKAL and TiHKAL by Dr. Alexander Shulgin, a former analytical organic chemist. These drugs are often noted as "designer drugs" by authorities and professionals or as "research chemicals" by the hallucinogen-use and distribution underground, as an attempt to avoid prosecution under the Federal Analogue Act.
States of consciousness 
- Battle trance
- Ego death
- Extrasensory perception
- Higher consciousness
- Major depressive disorder
- Music therapy
- Out-of-body experience
- Peak experience
- Religious experience
- Sexual pleasure
- Sleep deprivation
- Sleep paralysis
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During an altered state of consciousness, brain waves occupy different categories of frequencies (i.e. Epsilon, Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, Gamma). These waves can be measured using an Electroencephalograph (EEG). Below is a list of wave types, along with their corresponding frequencies and states of consciousness:
- Epsilon: 0.00–0.05 Hz
- Epsilon wave patterns have not been heavily studied; however, they may be connected to intense meditative states.
- Delta brainwave patterns characterize slow wave sleep.
- Theta: 4–8 Hz Normal deep sleep state.
- Theta waves are produced between dreams, and represent an "interlude" between dreams. The waves tend to last 15–30 minutes between REM states.
- Alpha: 8–12 Hz Typical dream state.
- Alpha waves can be seen in persons watching movies or television narratives in which they are fully engrossed, mostly unaware of their surroundings.
- Beta: 12–30 Hz
- Beta waves correspond to normal conscious brain activity, ranging from calm and relaxed consciousness, to fight-or-flight panic.
- Gamma: 30–100+ Hz
- As the ability to measure brainwave frequency has significantly improved with advances in digital technology, it has become possible and practical to measure brainwave frequencies beyond 30 Hz. As more is learned about these brainwaves, a change in classifications may occur. The beta-wave level of consciousness seems to extend well beyond 30 Hz, but frequencies of 90 Hz or more (gamma waves), are shown to be associated with coordination of signals across longer distances within the brain, facilitating the completion of complex actions or associations which require the simultaneous use of multiple brain regions.
See also 
- Binaural beats
- Ecstasy (emotion)
- Energy (esotericism)
- Religious ecstasy
- Ego death
- Flow (psychology)
- Kundalini syndrome
- Music therapy
- Mystical psychosis
- New Age
- Near death experience
- Psychedelic drug
- Psychedelic experience
- Psychology of religion
- Bundzen PV, Korotkov KG, Unestahl LE (April 2002). "Altered states of consciousness: review of experimental data obtained with a multiple techniques approach". J Altern Complement Med 8 (2): 153–65. doi:10.1089/107555302317371442. PMID 12006123.
- Ludwig, Arnold M. (September 1966). "Altered States of Consciousness (presentation to symposium on Possession States in Primitive People)". Archives of General Psychiatry 15 (3): 225. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730150001001. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
- Tart, Charles T. (1969). Altered States of Consciousness: A Book of Readings. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-84560-4.
- Tart, Charles T. (2001). States of Consciousness. Backinprint.com. ISBN 0-595-15196-5.
- Lombardo GT (2007). "An inquiry into the sources of poetic vision: Part I – the path to inspiration". J Am Acad Psychoanal Dyn Psychiatry 35 (3): 351–71. doi:10.1521/jaap.2007.35.3.351. PMID 17907906.
- Spivak D (1999). "Altered states of society: a tentative approach". A World in Transition: Humankind and Nature (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers): 33–42.
- Oill PA (July 1976). "Infectious disease emergencies. Part 1: Patients presenting with an altered state of consciousness". West. J. Med. 125 (1): 36–46. PMC 1237177. PMID 782042.
- Kokoszka, Andrzej (2007). States of Consciousness: Models for Psychology and Psychotherapy. London: Springer.
- Gruzdev N. V., Spivak D. L. (2006). "An exploratory investigation into the association of neuroticization, cognitive style, and spirituality to reported altered states of consciousness in women experiencing childbirth". International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 25 (1): 56–61.
- D. L. Spivak, N. P. Bechtereva, S. G. Danko, L. I. Spivak, K. Wistrand (1998). "Gender-specific altered states of consciousness". International Journal of Transpersonal Studies (2): 181–185.
Further reading 
- Bourguignon, Erika (1973). Religion, Altered States of Consciousness, and Social Change. Ohio State Univ. Press, Columbus. ISBN 0-8142-0167-9 Full text
- Hoffman, Kay (1998). The Trance Workbook: Understanding and Using the Power of Altered States. Translated by Elfie Homann, Clive Williams, and Dr. Christliebe El Mogharbel. Translation edited by Laurel Ornitz. ISBN 0-8069-1765-2
- Locke, R. G.; Kelly, E. F. (1985). "A Preliminary Model for the Cross-Cultural Analysis of Altered States of Consciousness". Ethos 13: 3. doi:10.1525/eth.1985.13.1.02a00010.
- James, William (1902). The Varieties of Religious Experience ISBN 0-14-039034-0
- Roberts, T.B. (Ed.) (2001). Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion. San Francisco: Council on Spiritual Practices. ISBN 1-889725-02-1
- Roberts, T.B. and P.J. Hruby. (1995–2002). Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments: An Entheogen Chrestomathy . Online archive ISBN 1-889725-00-5
- Roberts, T.B. "Chemical Input—Religious Output: Entheogens." Chapter 10 of Where God and Science Meet: Vol. 3: The Psychology of Religious Experience. Edited by Robert McNamara. Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood, 2006. ISBN 0-275-98788-4
- Weinel, Jonathan (August 2010). "Bass Drum, Saxophone & Laptop: Real-time psychedelic performance software." eContact! 12.4 — Perspectives on the Electroacoustic Work / Perspectives sur l’œuvre électroacoustique. Montréal: Canadian Electroacoustic Community.
- Wier, Dennis R. (1995) Trance: From Magic to Technology. Transmedia. ISBN 1-888428-38-4