Altered States of Consciousness: SS-590

Required Text: Wallace, B. & Fisher, L. Consciousness & Behavior. 4th Edition. Waveland Press, Inc. 1999

Requirements: The requirements for the course include the chapters from the textbook indicated on the following pages, class handouts, plus anything discussed in class.

Exams and Grades: Your grade will be based on three scores, each of which carries equal weight. These scores can be earned by taking three exams, or by taking Exam #1 or Exam #2, doing a term paper (outlined on page 4) and taking the final. The final exam must be taken. If you choose to take all three exams as well as to write a term paper, the lowest mark will be dropped. Dates for each exam, as well as the term paper, are listed on the following pages. It is important that you take each exam when given and to hand in the term paper on or before the due date. Unless a prior arrangement is made, or there is a certifiable medical emergency, there will be no make-ups for missed exams. In addition, please note that cheating on tests is a serious offense. Anyone caught cheating shall receive an automatic "F" for that test and may receive an "F" for the course. Your final grade will be determined by using the following grading scheme:

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Final Numerical Score Final Grade
89% or more A
86 – 88 A-
83 – 85 B+
79 – 82 B
76 – 78 B-
73 – 75 C+
69 – 72 C
66 – 68 C-
63 – 65  D+
59 – 62 D
56 – 58 D-
55% or less

Attendance: Attendance is a New York state requirement. You are expected to attend every class and to be on time. Six (6) excused absences are allowed. Two latenesses count as one absence. Anything in excess of this will lower your final numerical score by one (1) point per absence or may result in an unofficial withdrawal from the class with a grade of WU


Term Paper

Introduction: The Interpretation of Dreams:

The interpretation of dreams is a fascinating and significant area in the study of altered states of consciousness. Whether or not dreams have meaning has been the subject of debate for centuries. I believe that dreams do have meaning and that they reflect various aspects of your life. These range from simple, everyday concerns, to with fulfillments, problem solving, self-development, paranormal events, spiritual growth, and perhaps even more. One of the best ways to learn about dreams is by studying your own. While there are many theories of dream interpretation, I believe that you are the best interpreter of your dreams. Your term project will involve an interpretation of one of your dreams.

Keeping A Dream Diary:

To interpret your dreams, you first have to keep of record of them. A dream diary is one method of obtaining systematic introspective reports in studying consciousness. As most of you will have difficulty remembering your dreams, the first thing you'll have to do is to stimulate dream recall. There are several steps in doing this. First, when you go to bed, give yourself a pre-sleep suggestion that you will remember your dreams upon awakening. Second, keep a pencil and pad, or a tape recorder by your bed. Third, when you wake up, try to focus on what’s going on in your mind. If you happen to recall a dream, rehearse it immediately so you don't forget it. After you rehearse it, write it down or tape record it. In case you do not recall a dream upon awakening (and chances are that you won't), then write down or tape record whatever you're thinking about. This is important. Let's say that your first thought is, "What time do I have to be in school today?" Record this thought by writing it down or speaking into the tape recorder. The act of recording initial thoughts will stimulate subsequent dream recall.

Making Associations:

After you record your dream, try to make some association to its content. You might begin by giving it a title, much like a movie or a TV show has a title. Next, examine the specifics, and see if they mean anything to you. Sometimes meanings can be obvious.

For example, if you're up tight about a school exam because you didn't study for it, you might dream that you're taking the exam, but that the lights in the classroom are so dim that you can't see the questions. More frequently however, dreams have symbolic meanings. Here, a dream element stands for something else. For example, you might dream that you are having your eyes examined by an eye doctor, and this could represent your anxiety about the upcoming school exam. This is a simple example. Dream symbols are usually more complex. For example, if you dream that your school is on fire, this could mean that the course you're taking is "burning you out," or that you are "burning with rage" about the exam, or perhaps something else. The trick to dream interpretation is to discover your particular language.

The Term Paper:

Once you get the feel of interpreting a few symbols from your dreams, I'd like you to pick one dream and explore it in detail. For the term paper you will present three interpretations to this dream. The first interpretation will be based on your own associations and meanings using the above guidelines as well as additional information you will learn in class. Next, you are to interpret your dream using two contemporary theories of dream interpretation. You will learn about several theories in class as well as from your text, but you must obtain at least one outside reference to discuss these theories. By doing such a comparative dream analysis, you'll be able to appreciate how easy it is to fit a dream into any one theoretical model, and, more important, how your own interpretation is in effect the best one.

Your paper must be type-written, double spaced, and five pages long. Be careful not to plagiarize. Plagiarism is using the ideas of other in a term paper without giving that person proper credit through using quotation marks, footnotes, etc. Your paper must contain a bibliography where you list your references. In addition, you must also attach a copy of the references you used. The paper is due on May 11 or earlier.

Course Content