What is consciousness? Behaviorists say we cannot study it because it is not observable while others say we cannot talk about behavior without talking about consciousness.
There are many definitions of consciousness. One is a sensory awareness of the environment in which selective attention or focusing one's consciousness on a particular stimulus is the main idea. Another definition involves direct inner awareness of thoughts, emotions, memories, images. Preconscious material is not currently in awareness but is readily available. Does all of this sound confusing? It can be a confusing chapter that sounds as though we are speaking gibberish.
A more straightforward definition of consciousness is a waking state as opposed to sleep or meditation.
In the consciousness chapter we look at several phenomenon including sleep, dreams and drugs (since they often produce states that are altered consciousness).
Why we sleep and why we dream are enduring controversies. We know that sleep is crucial since sleep deprivation can result in attention problems, confusion or misperceptions. REM sleep is essential to brain metabolism and body temperature regulation
Dreams are another area of abiding interest. Freud was one of the first theorists to organize theories about dreams.
Sleep disorders are another fascinating line of research. Insomnia, narcolepsy and sleepwalking have all been the subject of Hollywood fantasy.
Drugs and the effects they cause is another line of inquiry. Legal and illegal drugs can alter consciousness and in this chapter we will examine how and why.