Psychologies – East and West Seminar: May 1976
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CONSCIOUSNESS
May 8–9, 1976
The University of California, San Francisco
Public Programs and Continuing Education
Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy
in cooperation with
The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge
There is a reawakening of concern with consciousness, in psychology, psychiatry, and in many areas of contemporary life. The scientific study of consciousness is at its inception in the West, yet much useful information has been discovered: consciousness exists at several levels within each person, and changes throughout the day as we sleep, dream, think. The study of hypnosis and of sleep offers perspective on these stages of consciousness.
A major new perspective on the nature of consciousness has come from the study of the brain—two different modes of consciousness are subtended by the two cerebral hemispheres. The discovery of the asymmetry of the human brain, the left hemisphere specialized for analysis, the right for holistic mentation, has given new impetus to the study of the relationship of consciousness to the brain.
The interest in the dimensions and alterations of consciousness also leads to the possibility of conscious development. Those concerned with these problems have, in the East, sought to develop a personal knowledge of the basic questions of psychology and philosophy. As the scientific analyses progress, we are better able to understand and integrate these cross-cultural perspectives.
This symposium will present an integrated and cohesive approach to this new area of inquiry, with speakers who are principals in the field.
William Dement, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he heads the Sleep Disorders Clinic and Laboratory. He has been a leading figure and a pioneer in research on sleep, dreams, and more recently on sleep disorders. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and the book Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep.
David Galin, M.D., is research neurophysiologist and Assistant Professor in Residence, Department of Psychiatry, Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of California, San Francisco. His major interests concern the relationship of brain states to consciousness and the implications for education and psychiatry. He is the author of research papers on the modes of conscious functioning of the two hemispheres of the normal human brain.
Ernest R. Hilgard, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. His research interests and scientific publications have spanned areas from conditioned reflexes and human learning to the phenomena of hypnosis. He is the author of the influential Theories of Learning (with Gordon Bower) and Introduction to Psychology (with Richard and Rita Atkinson), as well as the recent Hypnosis in the Relief of Pain, with Josephine Hilgard.
Robert E. Ornstein, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, the University of California San Francisco. His research interests include the psychology of meditation, biofeedback of EEG asymmetry, and the conscious functions of the two hemispheres of the brain. Dr. Ornstein is author numerous books, among them The Psychology of Consciousness, The Nature of Human Consciousness, and (as co-author) On the Psychology of Meditation.
Idries Shah is the leading contemporary exponent of Sufism. His 17 books on the subject are used in university departments of Psychology, Philosophy, Religion, Sociology and others throughout the Eastern and Western academic world. He is Director of Studies at the Institute for Cultural Research, London.
Roger W. Sperry, Ph.D., is Hixon Professor of Psychobiology at the California Institute of Technology. He is best known for his pioneering research on the split-brain in animals and in man, and for his elucidation of the orderly functioning of the nervous system with rearrangements of the structure. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and review articles, including three major reviews in Scientific American.
Saturday, May 8
9:00–10:30 A SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS: INTRODUCTION
Robert Ornstein Ph.D.
The study of consciousness is difficult, for, unlike most objects of scientific inquiry, consciousness is an internal, private process. Hence, many scientists and philosophers have focused on secondary phenomena, such as the study of behavior, physiology, and language, taking a reductionist and materialistic approach. Such reduction has obscured the primacy of consciousness in psychology, yet today, a new science of consciousness is developing, which draws from the methodology and technology of the twentieth century and the perspective of philosophical and religious tradition, in a new synthesis.
10:45–12:45 CONSCIOUSNESS IN HYPNOSIS: DIVISIONS OR LEVELS?
The usual analysis of consciousness is that “sub-” or “un-” conscious processes reflect a “deeper” layer of consciousness, yet other divisions may exist, as described by the term “coconscious.” Hypnosis can be used to determine the nature of the alterations and splits of consciousness. Some phenomena, such as hypnotic analgesia and deafness show that certain experiences can be deflected from awareness before becoming conscious and can be recalled later. Other phenomena are better described according to “depth,” such as hypnotic extensions of time experience. It may be, then, that hypnotic alterations of consciousness are not one but several.
2:30–3:30 RESEARCH ON THE SPLIT-BRAIN
Roger Sperry, Ph.D.
The cortex of the human brain is divided into two separate cerebral hemispheres. The pioneering research on the split-brain involved surgical section of the corpus callosum which normally connects the two hemispheres. When this was done the surprising specializations of the hemispheres could be tested, the left hemisphere for language, the right for spatial ability. A rare film will be shown of tests of these patients along with a review of this research.
3:45–4:15 A NEW CONCEPT OF BRAIN AND CONSCIOUSNESS
Roger Sperry, Ph.D.
Consciousness may be considered an active, causal agent in brain function, not merely an epiphenomenon. This new interpretation of the role of consciousness has significantly influenced the movement in neuroscience away from a reductionist and materialist view of brain functioning, to one in which mental events are primary.
4:15–5:00 SUMMARY AND COMMENTS
David Galin, M.D.
Sunday, May 9
9:00–11:00 THE WORLD OF SLEEP AND DREAMS
William Dement, M.D.
Our consciousness changes radically at night as we enter the world of sleep and dreams, yet this “world” is accessible only to the dreamer. Recently external physiological indices have been developed for stages of sleep and dreams which enable an observer to determine when a person is dreaming, and to investigate reports of the contents of dreams. Further research developments have led to new discoveries on the nature of sleep and sleep disorders.
11:15–12:45 LATERAL SPECIALIZATION OF COGNITION: RESEARCH EVIDENCE AND IMPLICATIONS
Robert Ornstein Ph.D.
In hundreds of experiments, research with normal people has confirmed that of the split-brain and neurosurgical cases: The two cerebral hemispheres are differentially involved in different cognitive tasks, and may operate in differing modes, one analytical and sequential; the other holistic and simultaneous. Evidence from EEG, eye movement, dichotic listening and handedness studies will be presented. The implications of the duality of the brain for psychology, education and our approach to the psychologies of the East will be discussed.
2:15–4:45 FRAMEWORK FOR NEW KNOWLEDGE: DEVELOPMENT AND APPLICATIONS OF SUFISM
Those concerned with mental phenomena in Eastern societies have specialized in a personal experiential approach to the questions of psychology and philosophy. This approach to human consciousness complements the objective scientific inquiry of Western science. There is a continuous “stream” of this knowledge which has influenced major philosophical and religious schools of the East and West and is active today.
4:45–5:00 SYMPOSIUM SUMMARY
Robert Ornstein, Ph.D.