Eight-circuit model of consciousness
The 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness is a model of consciousness proposed by Dr. Timothy Leary. Leary believed the mind is best viewed as a collection of 8 "circuits", also called "gears" or "mini-brains". Each stage is claimed to represent a higher stage of evolution than the one before it.
Leary presented a model based on the lateralization of brain function but taking his conclusions further than orthodox neuropsychology warrants. The first four levels, which Leary presumed to reside in the left lobe of the cerebrum, are concerned with the survival of organisms on earth; the other four, which Leary suggested are found in the right lobe, are for use in the future evolution of humans, and remain dormant in the majority of human beings.
The eight circuits
The eight circuits are:
- The Bio-survival Circuit is concerned with the earliest modes of survival and the basic separation of objects into either harmful or safe. This circuit is said to have first appeared in the earliest evolution of the invertebrate brain. It is the first to be activated in an infant's mind. Leary says this circuit is stimulated by opioid drugs. This circuit introduces a one-dimensional perception: forward and backward (i.e., forward towards food, nourishment and that which is trusted as safe, and backwards -- away from danger and predators).
- The Emotional Circuit is concerned with raw emotion and the separation of behavior into submissive and dominant. This circuit appeared first in vertebrate animals. In humans, it is activated when the child learns to walk. Leary associates this circuit with alcohol. This circuit introduces a second dimension, up-down, linked with territorial politics and tribal power games (up, as in swelling ones body in size to represent dominance, and down, as in the cowering, tail-between-the-legs submissive stance).
- The Symbolic Circuit is concerned with logic and symbolic thought. Leary said this circuit first appeared when hominids started differentiating from the rest of the primates. Leary believed this circuit is stimulated by caffeine, cocaine, and other stimulants. This circuit introduces the third dimension, left and right, related to the development of dextrous movement and handling "artefacts". (Also called by Leary the The Dexterity-Symbolism Circuit; called by Robert Anton Wilson the Semantic Circuit.)
- The Domestic Circuit. This circuit is concerned with operating within social networks and the transmission of culture across time. This circuit is said to have first appeared with the development of tribes. Leary never associated a drug with it, but later writers have associated it with MDMA. This fourth circuit deals with moral-social/sexual tribal rules passed through generations and is the introduction to the fourth dimension -- time. (Also called by Leary and Wilson the Socio-Sexual Circuit).
- The Neurosomatic Circuit is the first of the right-brain, "higher" circuits which are inactive in most humans. It allows one to see things in multi-dimensional space instead of the 4 dimensions of Euclidean space-time, and is there to aid in the future exploration of outer space. It is said to have first appeared with the development of leisure-class civilizations around 2000 BC. It is associated with hedonism and eroticism. Leary says this circuit is stimulated by cannabis and tantric yoga, or simply by experiencing the sensation of free fall at the right time.
- The Neuroelectric Circuit is concerned with the mind becoming aware of itself independent of the patterns imprinted by the previous five circuits. It is also called "metaprogramming" or "consciousness of abstracting". Leary says this circuit enables telepathic communication, and that this circuit is impossible to explain to those who have only left-brain activity and is difficult to explain to those with active fifth circuits. It is said to have appeared in 500 BC, in connection with the Silk Road. Leary associates this circuit with peyote, and psilocybin. (Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Metaprogramming Circuit.)
- The Neurogenetic Circuit allows access to the genetic memory contained in DNA. It is connected to memories of past lives, the Akashic Records, and the collective unconscious, and allows for essential immortality in humans. This circuit first appeared among Hindu and Sufi sects in the early first millennium. This circuit is stimulated by LSD, and Raja Yoga. (Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Morphogenetic Circuit.)
- The Psycho-atomic Circuit allows access to the intergalactic consciousness that predates life in the universe (characterized as God, the Overmind or aliens), and lets humans operate outside of space-time and the constraints of relativity. This circuit is associated with Ketamine and DMT by Leary. (Called also by Leary The Neuro-Atomic Circuit or The Metaphysiological Circuit, Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Quantum Non-Local Circuit.)
Leary claims that this model explained, among other things, the social conflict in the 1960s, where the mainstream, said to be those with circuit 4 active and characterized as tribal moralists by Leary, clashed with the counter-culturists, said to be those with circuit 5 active and characterized as individualists and hedonists.
Leary's model was not widely accepted among scientists, in part because it addresses primarily human traits, because no precise anatomical basis for the model was identified, and because the theory fails to account for the role of other neural structures in basic levels of consciousness such as wakefulness.
Leary's ideas heavily influenced the work of Robert Anton Wilson. Wilson's book Prometheus Rising is an in-depth, highly detailed and inclusive work documenting Leary’s eight-circuit model of consciousness. In the book 'The Game of Life' Leary hints that he reversed the natural order of one of the circuits in relationship to another one. He suggested he did this as a 'test' and any true adept delving into these realms would be able to reverse it to its proper location. To Leary's thinking, Robert Anton Wilson's book places the circuits in their proper order.
Leary's book on the subject was called Exo-Psychology, and has been republished with additional material in recent years under the title Info-Psychology (New Falcon Publishing).
References are made to the 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness in the Anime series Serial Experiments Lain.
- Leary, Timothy - "The Politics of Ecstasy", Ronin Publishing (1998)
- Leary, Timothy - "Info-Psychology", New Falcon Publications. ISBN 1-56184-105-6
- Wilson, Robert Anton - "Prometheus Rising", New Falcon Publications (Reprint - 1992). ISBN 1-56184-056-4
- Alli, Antero - "Angel Tech: A Modern Shaman's Guide to Reality Selection", New Falcon Publications; (Reprint - 1991). ISBN 1-56184-009-2