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

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According to the authors Douglas Ross and Markman, consciousness is a crucial aspect of being human and has a causal role in processing input and influencing behavior. Consciousness is likely an emergent property of the nervous system and is present in waking consciousness, which allows for self-awareness and individual development. Altered states of consciousness can occur due to various factors, including drugs or trauma, but some, such as daydreaming, are a normal function of the human mind and can serve useful purposes. Daydreaming is an altered state of consciousness that differs from regular dreams and is important for managing conflict and personal beliefs.

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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 state that consciousness is assumed to play a “causal role” in processing input received by the brain and has an effect on behavior (Douglas, Ross & Markman, date). It is probable that 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).

The waking consciousness is in control when human beings are alert and aware of their surroundings. It permits self-awareness and introspection, allowing individuals to develop independently from instinctive constraints. Through our waking consciousness, we interact with the world.

An altered state of consciousness occurs when the brain functions outside of its normal patterns. This alteration can occur due to the introduction of drugs, a lack of oxygen reaching the brain, trauma, or other events that interrupt normal 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 a state in which the waking consciousness can relax, manage conflict, or sort through issues concerning an individual’s relationships and personal beliefs (WebMD, n.d.). Daydreams perform these functions and others, making them a useful function of the human mind. Unlike “regular” dreams and altered states of consciousness, daydreams are a function of the waking consciousness.


  1. Medin, D., Ross, B. H., & Markman, A. B. (2005). Cognitive psychology. Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons.
  2. WebMD. (n.d.). Why does daydreaming get such a bad rap? Louise Chang (Ed.). Retrieved August 24, 2007 from

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Consciousness, Waking Consciousness, Altered States of Consciousness, and Daydreaming. (2016, Sep 09). Retrieved from

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