Consciousness, Waking Consciousness, Altered States of Consciousness, and Daydreaming Essay

Consciousness, Waking Consciousness, Altered States of Consciousness, and Daydreaming

According to Douglas, Ross, and Markman (date) consciousness “seems to be at the very center of what it means to be a human being” (p. 15).  The authors go on to state that it is assumed that the consciousness plays a “causal role” in processing the input received by the brain and that it has an effect in behavior (Douglas, Ross & Markman, date).  It is probable that the consciousness is “an emergent property of our nervous system [that] derives from properties of groups or aggregates of nerve cells” (Douglas, Ross & Markman, date, p. 31).

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The waking consciousness is that which is in control when human beings are alert and aware of their surroundings.  The waking consciousness of a human being permits self awareness and introspection, allowing human beings to develop individually, away from the constraints of instinct.  It is through our waking consciousness that human beings interact with the world.

An altered state of consciousness occurs when the brain functions in a manner outside of its normal patterns.  This alteration can occur due to the introduction of drugs, through a lack of oxygen reaching the brain, through trauma, or through other events that interrupt the normal pattern of function.  However, some altered states of consciousness are relatively “normal,” such as dreams and psychosis, which come from the regular functioning of the brain or its defenses.

Daydreaming is essentially an “altered state of consciousness,” however, it is an altered state in which the waking consciousness might relax, manage conflict, or sort through issues concerning an individual’s relationships and personal beliefs (WebMD, n. d.).  Because they perform these function, among others, daydreams are actually a useful function of the human mind.  Because they are a function of the waking consciousness, daydreams differ from “regular” dreams and altered states of consciousness.


Medin, D., Ross, B. H., Markman, A. B. (2005).  Cognitive psychology.  Danver, MA: John Wiley & Sons.

WebMD.  (n. d.) .  Why does daydreaming get such a bad rap?  Louise Chang (ed.).  Retrieved 24 August 2007 from

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