Altered States of Consciousness: A Book of Readings.

SOME REFLECTIONS ON MY — Altered States of Consciousness: A Book of Readings .  New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1969 (Editor and Contributor).

Altered States of Consciousness by Charles T. Tart (book cover front)

In the 1960s Western culture was being puzzled, frightened, and overwhelmed by people experiencing, indeed sometimes deliberately doing, “crazy” things to their minds.  Western science had paid little attention to the mind per se, so was providing no useful guidance.  Consciousness was either (a) “normal” (what I later named “consensus consciousness,” a mind shaped to automatically see and think about things the way one’s culture declared it should, and “consensus trance” when I wanted to emphasize the maladaptive ways it could be shaped by any culture’s blindness), or (b) a “dream” (useless mind wandering, best quickly forgotten while we got on with life), or (c) various forms of “crazy,” the latter designation not being very helpful to people who were puzzled or frightened by their own unusual experiences.

Actually there had been a number of useful, initial explorations of altered states of consciousness (ASCs), but they were so scattered in specialist literature that they were largely unknown.  This anthology brought together many useful and readable articles on ASCs, including creative stats, the hypnagogic state between waking and sleeping, dreams, meditation, hypnosis, and both mild (marijuana, e.g.) and major (LSD, e.g.) psychedelic drugs.  My hope was that the ASC book would stimulate extensive research in these areas, such that the book would be out of date within a decade.  Unfortunately psychedelic research basically stopped because of cultural hysteria, some other areas did increase, but ASCs remained a valuable reference books for decades.  The chapter on optimal ways to use psychedelic drugs, e.g., remains one of the most solid guides in this area.

Demand for information on ASCs made, to the publisher’s surprise, ASCs a best-seller for a basically scientific book.  It’s out of print now, but with more than 125,000 copies printed, it can be found in used book channels.


Note: I have included links, usually to Amazon for convenience, as it leads to more formal information and reviews by readers.  Most of my books are in print in some form, some may have to be found used.

Altered States of Consciousness by Charles T. Tart (book cover back)
Altered States of Consciousness by Charles T. Tart (book cover back)