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Altered States of Consciousness [Paperback]

Charles T. Tart

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Study on ASC Jan. 4 2013
By Zadius Sky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There has been a number of debates, ranging from psychologists to philosophers, from scientists to theologists, from shamans to neuroscienctists, over the concept of "consciousness" for a long, long time. But, the "consciousness" is usually defined as a state of awareness or perception of one's surroundings and one's own state of mind - of being conscious. Now, we have a different concept that is related: altered states of consciousness (or ASC, for short), which Tart has defined as "qualitative shift in his pattern of mental functioning, that is, he feels not just a quantitative shift (more or less alert, more or less visual imagery, sharper or duller, etc.), but also that some quality or qualities of his mental processes are different" (p. 1). This usually means that a person would experience a different perception in space-time or distortion of one's visual perception or dissolution of one's sense of self.

Now here we have a book, as edited by Charles Tart, that is a collection of essays, first published in 1969 and updated by 1990, that explores the concept of ASC and covers the effects of drugs, meditation, hypnosis, and dreams. These essays were written by a number of well-known figures, including William James, Arthur C. Hastings, Milton H. Erickson, Wolfgang Luthe, and even include four essays by Dr. Tart himself. This book, consisted of 650+ pages, goes on for thirty-five chapters with eight sections. These sections focus on a general discussion on ASC, hypnagogic state, dreams, meditation, hypnosis, psychedelic drugs (both minor and major), and the psycho-physiology of ASC. Most of these essays can be technical but interesting while others are less and more insightful.

Since this is considered to be out of date by a few decades, I still found this comprehensive survey to be quite a fascinating study on altered states of consciousness, and these pages were backed by credible sources and references to which I'd found myself to look into. Indeed, it is a long read but it doesn't have to be read from cover to cover. Choose one section or one chapter that interests you and learn something interesting about that subject. Very informative reading, in my opinion.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A WIDE-RANGING COLLECTION OF READINGS July 27 2011
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Dr. Charles T. Tart (born 1937) is an American psychologist and parapsychologist, and one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology (he formerly taught at UC Davis). He is currently a Core Faculty Member at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He has also written The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal Is Bringing Science and Spirit Together, Body Mind Spirit: Exploring the Parapsychology of Spirituality, Transpersonal Psychologies, etc.

He wrote in the Introduction to the First Edition (1968) of this book, "An altered state of consciousness for a given individual is one in which he clearly feels a QUALITATIVE shift in his pattern of mental functioning... This book is concerned with those states of consciousness in which the individual feels one or more qualitative ... shifts in mental functioning, so that he believes himself to be in an ASC."

Here are some additional quotations from the book:

"When I created the first edition of (this book) back in 1968, I had some ambivalence about including this paper... I had some concern about its factuality... What mainly convinced me to include the paper, though, was the fact that as a child I had independently discovered and practiced the essence of dream control work..." (Pg. 202)
"Some ... artists, however, were wildly enthusiastic about their apparently increased sensitivity during the drug experience, only to discover, once the effects wore off, that the production was without artistic merit." (Pg. 339)
"...many psychologists, myself included, had high hopes that the INTELLIGENT use of psychedelics would be a major boost in the intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual evolution of humanity. This book introduced many educated people to these possibilities: some of them tried psychedelics, with great personal gains. I am pleased with that outcome. On the other hand, we had no real conception of the degree to which people could and would take these potential gifts and turn them into paths of personal and social destruction." (Pg. 389)
"One may conclude the passage of time by observing changes in experience, but it is not really an inference either. What seems to be described is the mental reviewing of the preceding changes which led up to the present point. Rerunning the succession in memory from some point up to the present gives the sensation of passing time." (Pg. 415)
"I have sheet after sheet of phrases dictated or written during the intoxication, which to the sober reader seem meaningless drivel, but which at the moment of transcribing were fused in the fire of infinite rationality..." (Pg. 436)
"I still find the books of Carlos Castaneda ... quite useful and provocative in thinking about and applying ASCs, in spite of the controversy ... over whether there really was a Yaqui Indian shaman named Don Juan who taught Castaneda this material..." (Pg. 460)
"The mystical experience seems the most difficult to facilitate, perhaps because of the as yet undermined roles of personality variables; but nonetheless, these phenomena are now sufficiently reproducible to allow mysticism to be studied under laboratory conditions." (Pg. 501)
9 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye opening explanation of the altered states Jan. 26 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This selection stirred my couriousity and sparked my interest in finding the ultimate reality. We are all on a quest man. A quest to reveal what we lies in our thoughtless minds. An informational and enjoyable read.

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