Saturday, January 28, 2012

Consciousness - A Concept of psychology

Psychologists of 20th century mostly ignored the concept of consciousness, which was explored by psychologists of 19th century. However, the concept once became respectable and cognitive psychologists started work on this concept.

Consciousness - The Concept

Halonen and Santrock define it as awareness of both external and internal stimuli or events. External events are seen by eyes and heard by ears like a barking dog. A peson can see the dog and also can hear the sound. Internal events are onset of headache, rapid heart beat etc.
Another concept, mind was explained by William James as a stream of consciousness - a continuous flow of changing sensations, images, thoughts and feelings. The contents of awareness of a person change from time to time, as information can move rapidly in and out of consciousness.
While William James focussed on the nature of stream of consciousness, Freud advocated that unconscious thoughts exert more powerful influences on the behavior of people. According to Freud, unconscious thought is a reservor of unacceptable wishes, feelings, and thoughts that are stored in the memory but beyond conscious awareness.

States of Consciousness

Controlled Process: This is the most alert state of consciousness. In this state, an individual is actively focusing effort toward a goal. The task requires focused attention and hence many other events are not noticed by the person in a controlled process state.
Automatic Process: In this state,  the task at hand requires minimal attention and hence some more activities are also in the awareness of an individual.
Daydreaming: Sometimes people enter into a thought process while they are doing some activity.Daydreaming can remind people of important things ahead.
Above three states are normal and they occur in all persons in everyday life.
Altered States of Consciousness: Drugs, meditation, traumas, fatigue, hypnosis, and sensory deprivation produce altered states of consciousness.
Halonen, Jane S. and John W.Santrock, Psychology; Contexts and Applications, Third Edition, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1999.
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Introduction to Psychology


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