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Intelligence and higher states of consciousness: a longitudinal study

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consciousness, American psychology, awareness, Jungian school, humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, transpersonal experiences, Maslow, yoga, meditation

Abstract (summary)

When William James (1890) introduced the concept of consciousness into American psychology, he argued that beyond the range of normal waking consciousness there is the possibility of exceptional states of consciousness that are completely "discontinuous" with discursive thought. He argued that these heightened states of awareness could be induced under specifiable conditions, could influence thought and behavior profoundly, and could be adaptive for the individual. He challenged psychology to investigate these states scientifically. The onset of the behaviorist revolution almost completely overshadowed this field of psychology (Hilgard, 1980). However, some groups of investigators continued to investigate these states, particularly the Jungian school (1956, 1960, 1980); Abraham Maslow (1968, 1977) and his school of humanistic psychology; and the movement known as transpersonal psychology (Grof, 1983; Rothberg, 1986; Sutich, 1976; Wilber, 1980). These experiences, called "peak experiences" by Maslow, have also been referred to as "transpersonal experiences," "flow," and others. Recently, a larger number of researchers have again begun to recognize and investigate these phenomena (e.g., Alexander, Davies, et al., in press; Alexander, Druker, & Langer, in press; Csikszentmihalyi, 1982; Hilgard, 1980; Hunt, 1989; Kramer, in press; Pascual-Leone, in press-a, in press-b; Pribram, 1986; Shapiro & Walsh, 1984; Wilber, Engler, & Brown, 1986). James (1902/1960, p. 386) suggested that exceptional states could be systematically cultivated, and he pointed to the ancient Indian tradition of yoga as a source of such practices. He thus anticipated a promising research area: the experimental investigation of meditation and associated psychophysiological changes. In 1957 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced Transcendental Meditation (TM) as a simple mental technique derived from the Vedic tradition of India (Maharishi, 1963, 1969; 1972a). He proposed that through this procedure [Editors Note: See discussion by Charles Alexander in the Lucid Dreaming and Higher States of Consciousness Panel Discussion for a brief explanation of the procedure], a "fourth major state of consciousness" can be regularly experienced. This fourth state is referred to in Maharishi's Vedic psychology as transcendental consciousness (Maharishi, 1969; Orme-Johnson, 1988) because it is said to transcend or be discontinuous with the three ordinary states of waking, dreaming, and sleep, as typically described conceptually and psychophysiologically (e.g., see Natsoulas's sixth definition of "normal" waking consciousness: 1983, p. 49; see also, Gackenbach, 1987; Rechtschaffen & Kales, 1968).

Publication Information

Cranson, R., Alexander, C., Orme-Johnson, D., & Gackenbach, J.I. (1990). Intelligence and higher states of consciousness: A longitudinal study. Lucidity Letter, 9(2), 113-136.



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