Sweats: Perception and Consciousness Barbara Bransfield Grand Canyon University General Psychology: PSY 101 March 25, 2009 Sweats: Perception and Consciousness Helena Blavatsky (1831), founder of modern Theosophy, wrote “everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is conscious: i. e. , endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception” (Brainy Quotes, 2009). Yet individuals since the dawn of man, have wittingly, and unwittingly, found or pioneered methods by which to alter consciousness, and thereby distorting perception.
A few of these methods, such as meditation, can provide physical benefits, however other methods, such as the use of psychoactive drugs, can cause permanent damage to the brain, thus altering an individual’s perception permanently. Drugs According to Dennis Coon (2010) in his book Introduction to Psychology: Gateway to Mind and Behavior, psychoactive drugs are the most common method by which individuals seek to alter perception (pg 199). These altering drugs range from mild effecting, such as through the use of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol, to more powerful, controlled substances, such as pain killers, uppers, downers, or hallucinogens.
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Certain psychoactive drugs serve a useful purpose, after all, where would most of us be without our daily dose of caffeine; still, all are prone to abuse and can lead to unhealthy dependency or permanent brain damage. As with any substance or action, which alters consciousness, individuals must learn moderation or seek modification of behavior to prevent damage to or to restore the mind’s balance and state of health. Any alteration to our state of consciousness is self-induced and therefore treatable or preventable.
Fatigue One of the ways in which individuals abuse their mind is by pushing themselves too hard for too long, thus interrupting healthy sleep patterns and creating periods of extreme fatigue. Most everyone is guilty of staying up long past bedtime to finish a good movie, of dancing the night away, or of burning a candle at both ends to finish a project at work, and most everyone has felt the effects the following morning when even a cup of caffeinated coffee seems incapable of jolting the brain awake.
According to Coon (2010), while most people understand what sleep is, many fail to comprehend that while sleep patterns may be modified, it cannot be disregarded. Even moderate sleep loss can affect the brain’s ability to focus. This can cause an individual to make minor missteps at work or even serious errors in judgment that can cost lives. However, not all conscious altering methods can prove hazardous to us, or others. Meditation Meditation is a method of relaxation in which an individual “focuses attention and interrupts the typical flow of thoughts, worries, and analysis” (Coon, 2010).
During meditation, energy activity in the brain is shifted from the right frontal lobe, which is prone to stress, to the calmer left frontal cortex, giving the meditator a sense of peace and joy (Psychology Today, 2003). Studies conducted have shown that meditation over long periods of time do no harm to the meditator, providing only benefits over the long term. A more controversial form of induced conscious altering methods is hypnosis. Hypnosis Hear the word hypnosis and visions of people clucking like chickens comes to mind, but those who believe in the power of hypnotherapy view it altogether differently.
While self-induced meditation can aid in reducing stress and increasing peace and joy, hypnotherapy claims abilities far greater. By altering the consciousness of a patient, a physician can purportedly reduce or eliminate pain during procedures and even restore function to organs that are not working properly, criminologists can control behavior, and individuals can lose weight or stop smoking (Life Challenges, 2009). So, if hypnosis is such a wonderful mind altering method of healing and self-improvement, why then is it not used more extensively?
Possibly, because the dangers of hypnosis outweigh the supposed benefits. As with many conscious altering methods, hypnosis leaves the participant vulnerable because their own sense of self, their sense of awareness, is diminished or even eliminated. A hypnotizer can easily manipulate, control, or exploit a patient if the hypnotizer proves to be unscrupulous, in which case the hypnotizer may use the patient to do something illegal or unethical (Life Challenges, 2009).
Conclusion Even day-to-day activities, such as listening to music, drinking soda, and making love, can affect our brain, stimulating it in ways that affect our perceptions, emotions, memories, time sense, thoughts, feelings of self-control, and suggestibility (Coon, 2010). The more we are aware of our mind and the affect that our habits have on it, the more acute our perceptions will remain and our life experiences balanced. References Benefits of Hypnosis. 2009). In All About Life Challenges. Retrieved March 25, 2009, from http://www. allaboutlifechallenges. org/benefits-of-hypnosis-faq. htm Blavatsky, H. P. (2009). H. P. Blavatsky Quotes. In Brainy Quote. Retrieved March 25, 2009, From http://www. brainyquote. com/quotes/quotes/h/hpblavat267749. html Coon, D. , & Mitterer, J. O. (2010). Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior (12th ed. ). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.