Eight-circuit model of consciousness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The eight-circuit model of consciousness is a holistic model originally presented as psychological philosophy (abbreviated "psy-phi"[1]) by Timothy Leary in books including Neurologic (1973) and Exo-Psychology (1977), later expanded on by Robert Anton Wilson in his books Cosmic Trigger (1977)[2] and Prometheus Rising (1983), and by Antero Alli in his books Angel Tech (1985) and The Eight-Circuit Brain (2009), that suggests "eight periods [circuits]" within the model.[3] This model has been described as a potential route towards reconciling different interpretations of what it means to be a human being.[4][unreliable fringe source?] The eight circuits, or eight systems or "brains", as referred by other authors, operate within the human nervous system. Each corresponds to its own imprint and subjective experience of reality.[5] Leary and Alli include three stages for each circuit, detailing developmental points for each level of consciousness.[6][7][8]

The model lacks scientific credibility and has largely been ignored in academia.[9][10][11][12][13]


Of the "eight circuits" in this model of consciousness, the first four circuits concern themselves with life on Earth, and the survival of the human species. The last four circuits are post-terrestrial, and concern themselves with the evolution of the human species as represented by so-called altered states of consciousness, enlightenment, mystical experiences, psychedelic states of mind, and psychic abilities. The proposal suggests that these altered states of consciousness are recently realized, but not widely utilized. Leary described the first four as "larval circuits", necessary for surviving and functioning in a terrestrial human society, and proposed that the post terrestrial circuits will be useful for future humans who, through a predetermined script, continue to act on their urge to migrate to outer space and live extra-terrestrially.[citation needed] Leary, Wilson, and Alli have written about the idea in depth, and have explored and attempted to define how each circuit operates, both in the lives of individual people and in societies and civilizations.

The term "circuit" is equated to a metaphor of the brain being computer hardware, and the wiring of the brain as circuitry.[14][15]

Leary used the eight circuits along with recapitulation theory to explain the evolution of the human species, the personal development of an individual, and the biological evolution of all life.[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Davis 2019, p. 251.
  2. ^ Cosmic Trigger excerpt
  3. ^ Leary 1987, p. xii.
  4. ^ Danylova 2017.
  5. ^ Leary, Wilson, Alli, et al. (1977-95).
  6. ^ Leary 1987, 7th printing (2011), p. 16.
  7. ^ Alli 2009, p. 42.
  8. ^ Leary & Wilson 1979, 2nd ed, p. 48.
  9. ^ Cultural historian John Higgs states that Leary hoped to rebuild his academic reputation by pivoting away from psychedelics and toward speculation on human evolution, but that "[this] attempt at scientific credibility was doomed to fail, partly because he was the infamous Timothy Leary and his reputation would always tower over him, but mainly because it simply isn't good science to create a theoretical model and claim that it represents different things at the same time. This thinking was, essentially, occult or mystical, and would never be taken seriously by the establishment." Higgs 2006, p. 236–237
  10. ^ Greenfield, Robert (2006). Timothy Leary: A Biography. p. 197. from the very first, [Richard Alpert] and his associate, Timothy F. Leary, have been as much propagandists for the drug experience as investigators of it... The shoddiness of their work as scientists is the result less of incompetence than of a conscious rejection of scientific ways of looking at things. [quoting Andrew Weil]
  11. ^ Williams, William F. (2023). "Timothy Leary". Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. p. 189. "Leary also wrote (...) extensively about such subjects as exopsychology, neurologic, neuropolitics, neurogeography, and rejuvenation."
  12. ^ Kaiser, David; McCray, W. Patrick, eds. (2016). "Timothy Leary's transhumanist SMI^2LE". Groovy Science. pp. 238–262. "A once-promising researcher who abandoned the protocols of mainstream psychology for notoriety... / Neuropolitics and Exo-Psychology were clear signs that Leary had strayed far from O'Neill's comparatively straightforward ideas, which were grounded in optimistic yet measured extrapolations of 1970s technology. It's difficult to determine exactly how people responded to Leary's two books. Contemporary responses were relatively rare and memories today are hazy. / Leary incorporated another fringy ingredient besides space settlements and drug-enhanced mental capacity into his formulation for SMI^2LE. / Was Leary's SMI^2LE program an example of 1970s 'groovy science'? Can we even call it 'scientific'? Leary presented few technical details, provided no blueprints for its realization, and shrouded his ideas in cryptic references to quantum fields and neurological circuits of consciousness. [...] In these ways, he differs sharply from 'visioneers' like O'Neill who grounded their ideas about the technological future on detailed engineering studies and who published and occasionally presented research in professional scientific venues. / Leary's ideas tapped into a potpourri of fringe sciences, including est, quantum consciousness, space habitation, and other topics that spanned physics, psychology, and the paranormal."
  13. ^ Hexham, Irving; Poewe, Karla (1998). Understanding Cults and New Age Religions. p. 43. We have already noted that nineteenth-century religious movements were developed and systematized by way of evolutionary mythology. The evolutionistic framework has been similarly popular in the twentieth century [...] More importantly, it is a common theme in the literature of the new religious movements, as in Timothy Leary's seminal work The Politics of Ecstasy. Leary repeatedly links the use of LSD, spiritual evolution, the evolution of consciousness [...] He argues that the popular use of LSD heralds the next great evolutionary step for mankind.
  14. ^ Wilson 1983, 21st printing, pp. 33–41.
  15. ^ Leary & Wilson 1979, 2nd ed. (1993), p. 4.
  16. ^ Leary & Wilson 1979, 2nd ed. (1993), p. 86.
  17. ^ Leary 1987, 7th printing (2011), p. 5.


External links[edit]