Consciousness Phenomenon

OF. Consciousness is the ability to demonstrate awareness and to process sensations, thoughts, images, ideas, feelings, and perceptions; it is also the capacity of having experiences, the central affect of neural reception, the subjective aspect of brain activity, the relation of self to environment, and the totality of an individual's experiences at any given moment. Whereas E. B. Titchener (1867-1927), the major American proponent of the school of "Structuralism," declared that psychology is the "science of consciousness," J. B. Watson (1878-1958), the founder of the psychological school of "Behaviorism" (cf., Meyers' psychological theories), insisted on relegating the phenomenon of consciousness to the sphere of mythology or to the "rubbish heap of science" [Roback (1964); cf., Sutherland (1996) who suggests that nothing worth reading has been written on the issue or phenomenon of consciousness]. The consistent and pervasive fascination with the notion of consciousness within, as well as outside of, psychology derives from the strong and intuitive sense that it is one of the basic defining features of the human species. To be human, say some investigators, is to be able to study and reflect on our own conscious awareness and to "know that we know." Historically, the phenomenon of consciousness has been especially popular in the areas of Structuralism and psychoanalytic theory, but today is finding renewal as a topic for scientific study in the areas of neuropsychology, language, and cognition. E. R. Hilgard (1977) suggests that it is useful to assign two modes to consciousness (cf., Shallice, 1972): a receptive mode and an active mode, where the former is reflected in the relatively passive registration of events as they impinge on one's sense organs, and the latter is reflected in the active, planning, and voluntary aspects of behavior; both of these modes are demonstrated in the special problems of a "divided consciousness" or "divided control." Occasionally, the phenomenon of consciousness is equated with the term "self-consciousness" wherein to be conscious it is only necessary for one to be aware of the external world. Some skeptical writers, notably the behaviorists, assert that consciousness is an interesting, but elusive, phenomenon: it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it evolved [cf., Reese (2001, p. 229) who states that "very little, if any, progress has been made in a century of research on consciousness; we are not even closer to having a satisfactory definition of the term"]. See also BE-HAVIORIST THEORY; DISSOCIATION THEORY; IMAGERY AND MENTAL IMAGERY, THEORIES OF; LIFE, THEORIES OF; MEYER'S PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORIES; MIND-BODY THEORIES; SELF-CONCEPT THEORY; UNCONSCIOUS INFERENCE, DOCTRINE OF. REFERENCES

Roback, A. (1964). History of American psychology. New York: Collier. Sperry, R. (1969). A modified concept of consciousness. Psychological Review, 76, 532-536. Ornstein, R. (1972). The psychology of consciousness. San Francisco: Freeman.

Shallice, T. (1972). Dual functions of consciousness. Psychological Review, 79, 383-393. Penfield, W. (1975). The mystery of the mind: A critical study of consciousness and the human brain. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Tart, C. (1975). States of consciousness. New York: Dutton.

(Eds.) (1976). Consciousness and the brain. New York: Plenum Press.

Consciousness and self-regulation. Advances in research. Vol. 1. New York: Plenum Press.

Hilgard, E. R. (1977). Divided consciousness: Multiple controls in human thought and action. New York: Wiley.

Jaynes, J. (1977). The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Hilgard, E. R. (1980). Consciousness in contemporary psychology. Annual Review of Psychology, 31, 126.

Sutherland, S. (1996). The international dictionary of psychology. New York: Crossroad.

Baars, B. (1997). In the theater of consciousness. New York: Oxford University Press.

(Eds.) (1998). Toward a science of consciousness. II. The second Tucson discussions and debates. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press.

Tononi, G., & Edelman, G. (1998). Consciousness and complexity. Science, 282, 1846-1851.

Reese, H. W. (2001). Some recurrent issues in the history of behavioral sciences. Behavior Analyst, 24, 227239.

Zeman, A. (2001). Consciousness. Brain, 124, 1263-1289.

Lambie, J. A., & Marcel, A. J. (2002). Consciousness and the varieties of emotion experience: A theoretical framework. Psychological Review, 109, 219-259.

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Aspergers Answers Revealed

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