Psychology -> Area of Study 3 - States of Consciousness -> Altered States of Consciousness -> Common characteristics of altered states of consciousness
Common characteristics of altered states of consciousness
Common characteristics of altered states of consciousness and how these differ from normal waking consciousness:
Altered states of consciousness are characterised by a change in brain wave patterns. In an altered state of consciousness there are significant changes to the way people experience thoughts, feelings and sensations. People are more likely to experience the extremes of sensations and emotions while in an altered state of consciousness. An altered state of consciousness may occur naturally, such as sleeping, or it may be intentionally induced, such as meditation.
In an altered state of consciousness most people report experiencing psychological changes. Some of these are:
Perceptual and cognitive distortions
An altered state of consciousness can change the way we experience sensations. It can cause distortions in the meanings a person attributes to information entering the senses. This can result in distorted perceptions of external stimuli.
Thoughts can become disorganised, often illogical and lacking in sequence, as a result of an altered state of consciousness. A person in an altered state may also experience difficulties in solving problems, as information processing is often impaired. The person's memory of events is not as efficient as in normal waking consciousness and they may be unable to recall certain events that took place while they were in an altered state.