Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
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Sunday, August 11, 2019

How MANY ''Altered States' of Consciousness'' Are There?

In the early years of the Twentieth Century, many psychologists were inspired by the discovery in chemistry that all matter could be reduced to certain basic elements. Since the purpose of consciousness was to allow us to experience the real world, they reasoned that it should be possible analyze the contents of consciousness into its own basic elements. This "mental chemistry" was given the name structuralism; and various groups of structuralists began their research, using a method called introspection, or "looking inward," a trained analysis of one's own thoughts and feelings, to see just how many basic elements of awareness exist.. However, the various groups of researchers could not come to a general agreement regarding how many elements of consciousness there actually were. One group claimed that they could find fourteen, another forty-three, and so on. The problem lay in the fact that consciousness is like a mirror. It reflects back what is put into it. The entire process is reminiscent of the game that Tolstoy and his brothers used to play when they were children, which involved trying to see how long each one could go without thinking of a white bear. (Try it!) 

There are probably as many altered experiences of consciousness as it is possible to conceive or to imagine; for each of these imagined definitions may be written up in the form of an induction procedure and presented to a sufficiently imaginative hypnosis partner, and that is exactly how he or she is going to experience a change in the perception of his or her awareness.

My evidence for this assertion  is hyperempiria. I did not wait for another historical accident to come along, as was the case when mesmerism morphed into hypnotism in response to people imitating the behavior of the retarded Victor Emmanuel, who was too  stupid to know that he was supposed to go into hypnosis and went to sleep instead: I simply made it up! I gave the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility to of Hypnotic Susceptibility to two groups of introductory psychology students, one of which was first  given a standard hypnotic induction and the other was given a hyperempiric induction based upon suggestions of increased awareness. Both groups showed a significant increase in suggestibility, but the two groups did not significantly different from each other. (Gibbons, 197 ).I currently prefer to use both inductions in tandem, first taking clients "down" into hypnosis and then "up" into hyperempiria (Gibbons &Lynn, 2010) before providing meaningful experiences of life-changing intensity in the mulriverse (Gibbons & Woods, 2016).\\

If the number of suggestion-induced altered states of consciousness is indeed unlimited, as it appears to be, given the ease with which such suggested experiences may be constructed, the only question which we need to ask ourselves is how can we define these experiences in a manner which is the most useful for the task at hand, forr the enhancement of human potential, the ennoblement of the human spirit, and the fulfillment of human existence.

Gibbons, D. E. (1979). Applied hypnosis and hyperempiria. New York: Plenum Press.
 Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. in S. J. Lynn, J. W. Rhue, & I. Kirsch (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 267-29

Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. (2016). Virtual reality hypnosis: Explorations in the Multiverse. Amazon Books