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Addendum A - The Concept of Generalized
Reality-Orientation [table of contents]  [previous]  [next]


A variety of theories, concepts, and research findings are subject to reconsideration in the light of a new paradigm of consciousness. A large body of significant literature could be reviewed with the attentive model in mind. We choose, in this addendum, to consider a small portion of this work, sketching some of the ramifications of the model we propose. Sections A through H deal respectively with the concept of Generalized Reality- Orientation as proposed by Shor, Freud's concepts of the Preconscious and Unconscious, Biofeedback Research and the theoretical framework used for interpreting its results, research in Subliminal Perception, William James' model of consciousness, the Unconscious revisited and the concept of the Complex, the Archetypal Representations of which Jung speaks, and the Yogic concept of Vasana. The sequence in which these parts are presented is designed to highlight their interrelatedness.

Addendum A

In an article entitled "Hypnosis and the Concept of Generalized Reality-Orientation", R. Schor speaks of a 'usual orientation to reality', a frame of reference existing in the background of attention which, as he puts it, "can temporarily disintegrate in special states of mind." 101 In the following passage he introduces this notion of a 'usual generalized reality- orientation. The point we understand Shor to be making is that in entertaining an object of attention in normal states of consciousness we are subsidiarily aware of a frame or context that can consequently be understood to have an orientational function.

The present work attempts to develop the system of ideas

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implicit in White's descriptions of the altered state. A series of twelve propositions has been formulated in regard to the processes that produce the altered state, along with their implications and ramifications for hypnosis, related states, and cognitive theory in general.

1. The usual state of consciousness is characterized by the mobilization of a structured frame of reference in the background of attention which supports, interprets, and gives meaning to all experiences. This frame of reference will be called the usual generalized reality-orientation.

Perhaps the best way to explain what is meant by this proposition is to describe a state of consciousness in which the usual generalized reality-orientation is not mobilized, in order to see more clearly the psychic functions that are imputed to it Many experiences could be cited as illustrations -- from literature, "mystic" experiences, or pathologic states.

The best of these have the quality of merging of self and world (as in the typical Nirvana experience), whereas the clearest illustration of our proposition would be an instance of the loss of self and world entirely. 102

We find this passage consistent with our descriptions of altered states of consciousness in Part III; note especially that the loss of the usual generalized reality-orientation, its 'temporary disintegratio' in special states of mind, is connected with a concomitant loss-of-self experience.

Having connected the sense-of-self that we experience in normal states of consciousness with the presence of the generalized reality-orientation it is not surprising that he should go on to identify the generalized reality-orientation as the Freudian 'ego' in the following way.

Those who wish to view our discussion in general freudian terminology may consider the generalized reality-orientation roughly equivalent to the cognitive components of the ego or the secondary-process orientation. 103

We might recall that for Freud there is a special connection between secondary process and the preconscious:

We have found that processes in the unconscious or in the id obey different laws from those in the preconscious ego. We name these laws in their totality the primary process,

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in contrast to the secondary process which governs the course of events in the preconscious, in the ego. 104

We have suggested relating the concept of subsidiary awareness to Shor's concept of generalized reality-orientation. Now we see that the latter is intimately associated with the notion of the 'preconscious'. Can we expect, then, that the concept of the preconscious could be articulated in terms of the concept of subsidiary awareness? The next section investigates this possibility and related matters.

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101. R.E. Shor, "Hypnosis and the concept of the generalized reality-orientation." In C.T. Tart (ed.), Altered states of consciousness (Garden City:Anchor Books,1969), p.243.
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102. Ibid., p.242.
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103. Ibid., p.245 note.
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104. S. Freud, "An outline of psycho-analysis." In J. Strachey (ed.), Standard edition, vol. 23 (London:Hogarth Press, 1964), p.164.
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