Consciousness: the complex phenomenon of evaluating the environment and then filtering that information through the mind with awareness of doing so.

There are two purposes of consciousness:

  • Monitoring: to keep track of mental processes, behavior, and the environment; to maintain self-awareness.
  • Controlling: we plan based on information received from monitoring process.

There are several levels of consciousness:

Preconscious - level of consciousness that comprises information that could become conscious readily, but is not continually available. For example, what you’re your bedroom look like? You are able to recall this information, and yet you were not thinking of it until asked to do so. Also, this explains the tip of the tongue phenomenon; you know you know something, and yet you are unable to recall it from your preconscious.

Subconscious/Unconscious - material too difficult to handle at conscious level is repressed, and is unavailable to us consciously.

Altered States of Consciousness - awareness is somehow changed from our normal waking state. Some common characteristics of altered states of consciousness are:

  • cognitive processes are different
  • perceptions of self and world man change
  • normal inhibitions and level of control over behavior may weaken