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July 1976

A Test of the Psychedelic Model of Altered States of ConsciousnessThe Role of Introspective Sensitization in Eliciting Unusual Subjective Reports

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychology, Brock University, St Catharines, Ontario, Canada (Dr Hunt), and the School of Social Work, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada (Ms Chefurka).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976;33(7):867-876. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1976.01770070097012

• The term "psychedelic" applied to "altered states of consciousness" would imply that such subjective anomalies are direct expressions of normal psychological functioning. The anomaly in such experience would depend in the first instance on sensitization to qualities of immediate subjective state. Such sensitization should in itself be considered nonadaptive, cutting off the "intentionality" of psychic functioning at a microgenetically primitive level.

This hypothesis was experimentally confirmed, in a setting involving isolation and inactivity for a period of ten minutes, by the striking incidence of anomalous subjective reports in groups provided instructions involving direct sensitization to immediate subjective state compared with nonsensitization groups. In addition, as would be predicted from a "psychedelic" model of altered states, a study of the experimental protocols of the early introspectionists revealed subjective anomalies similar to those found in drug and meditational states.