From prehistoric caves to current raves and virtual reality technology, humanity has always sought to alter its consciousness. Altered states of consciousness can be achieved through dreaming, drumming, dancing, meditation, hypnosis, fasting, sex, and a number of other human activities. These strategies affect consciousness by mimicking the natural responses of our nervous system.
This authoritative, multidisciplinary overview of altered states of consciousness (ASC) shows how their study is necessary to gain a fundamental understanding of human culture, history, and biology.
Altered consciousness is one of humanity's most mystical and life-altering aspects. These remarkable changes in mental state have understandably been a topic of general interest and scientific inquiry across time. Beyond simply satisfying our curiosity, however, studies focused upon altered consciousness can also bring valuable insights into our experience, biology, and culture.
This unprecedented two-volume set will intrigue anyone interested in psychology, biology and neurology, science, history, arts and the humanities, and literature on consciousness, from general readers to scholars and researchers. An impressive collection of international contributors address altered states of consciousness from the perspectives of history, evolution, psychology, culture, literature, human biology, contemporary science, and society, seeking to illuminate the causes, effects, and meanings of altered consciousness. The first volume provides an introduction and centers on the importance of altered states in history, culture, and the humanities, while the second volume presents biological and psychological perspectives on altered consciousness and examines their potential for healing and pathology.
• Contains various illustrations in the two volumes
• Presents a bibliography of representative references to the literature on altered states across various disciplines and languages
• Provides convenient cross-referencing of subjects across chapters
• Contains chapters written by recognized, international authorities in their areas of expertise from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Israel, Mexico, The Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States
• Provides exclusive, state-of-the-art overviews of altered states of consciousness in various fields
• Presents information that is both authoritative and reader-friendly and covers the humanities, the arts, and the social and biological sciences