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Altered States of Consciousness and Ego Psychology

Erika Fromm
Social Service Review
Vol. 50, No. 4 (Dec., 1976), pp. 557-569
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30015411
Page Count: 13
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Altered States of Consciousness and Ego Psychology
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Abstract

In this study, a new psychoanalytic theory of altered states of consciousness is proposed. From an ego-psychological point of view I attempt to clarify what happens in daydreaming, hypnosis, psychedelic drug states, and a variety of forms and stages of meditation. Attention, imagery, and learning and their functioning in altered states of consciousness are discussed. Furthermore, the concepts of ego receptivity and ego activity are introduced in relation to these states. Parallels are drawn between the continuum that runs from very deep altered states of consciousness to the waking state and the conceptual continua of ego receptivity and ego activity, primary process and secondary process thinking, fantasy versus reality orientation, and unfocused versus focused attention.

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