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Sex, Drugs and Altered States of Consciousness

Charles T. Tart University of California, Davis Davis, California 95616 (1978, Unpublished.)

This is a chapter I wrote for a book on sexuality, applying my systems theory approach to understanding altered states of consciousness to the altered state(s) produced by high sexual arousal and orgasm. Because of a variety of complications (the publisher introduced so much bureaucracy I got disgusted and withdrew my chapter) the chapter never got published. The contents of this document are Copyright 1978 by Charles T. Tart (see detail)

Precis: From the author's systems approach to consciousness, both high sexual arousal and the pharmacological effects of psychoactive drugs, interacting with social and psychological factors, can be viewed as capable of inducing a radical, transient reorganization of consciousness, a discrete altered state of consciousness. The nature of such induction is considered for sex and marijuana intoxication, and specific experiential effects of marijuana intoxication on sexual experience are discussed. The methodological implications of such non-linear, qualitative transformations of consciousness are important. The purpose of this chapter is to outline a systems approach to understanding sexual behavior and drug use in terms of altered states of consciousness. The focus will be on people's experience: while there is a fair amount of literature correlating such "objective" indices of sexuality as frequency of intercourse with other variables, such as socioeconomic class, personality, etc., real people do not engage in sexual activity or take a drug in order to produce that kind of data but to have a certain kind of experience. Thus we must understand the kind of experiences produced if we wish to fully understand the relationship between sex and drugs. My focus will be outlining a systems approach to the nature of states of consciousness and the way consciousness is altered by strong emotions, particularly sexual arousal, and particularly by one drug, marijuana, for it is here that we have the most extensive data. This chapter is primarily methodological in intent, showing how data about sexuality and marijuana can be viewed from this approach, rather than providing any final data on it. This approach can be extended to other drugs than marijuana. We shall briefly consider the nature of ordinary consciousness and altered states of consciousness, the way sexual arousal may produce an altered state of consciousness, some of the qualities of the sexual state of consciousness that can be so produced, the general way that drugs can induce an altered state of consciousness, the constellating power of both sexual arousal and drug-induced states, and then specifically consider reports of effects of marijuana intoxication on sexuality.

THE NATURE OF ORDINARY CONSCIOUSNESS For some years I have been investigating altered states of consciousness, and a major result of this has been to raise some questions about our ordinary or so-called "normal" state of consciousness (SoC) that are not usually asked. The result has been the development of a theory or systems approach for understanding the nature of both our ordinary SoC and altered states of consciousness (ASCs), which has been presented in detail elsewhere (Tart, 1975). I shall briefly outline some aspects of the systems approach as background for our consideration of sexuality and drugs. Our ordinary state of consciousness is not something "natural" or given, as we tend to assume, but a highly complex construction, a specialized tool for coping with our environment and the people in it, a reflection of the consensus reality of the society we live in. In our development from infancy, some of the potentials we were born with as human

beings were encouraged and developed by our society, others were actively inhibited, others were not developed through ignorance of them. The ordinary SoC we finally arrive at and spend most of our life in is a tool for coping with a particular consensus reality. It gives us tremendous advantages, so we are the beneficiaries of our society's knowledge and experience, but it also severely limits us when it comes to dealing with aspects of reality that our culture is not familiar with. If the consensus reality in which we live is functioning smoothly and providing a high ratio of positive to negative experiences, it does not occur to us to question the nature of our own consciousness, for this tool adapts us well to the environment. If we are not getting along well in the environment, as always happens to some people and is currently happening to many in this period of rapid social change, some of us may then either question the social system and rebel against it, or we may ask questions about the functioning and limitations of our own consciousness. We shall focus on the latter aspect: many people find that the ratio of positive to negative experiences in their ordinary SoC is not high enough and seek means of altering their consciousness to find more happiness, such as engaging in sexual behavior, using drugs, or other things. The systems approach conceptualizes consciousness as arising from the interaction of basic awareness, the basic, indefinable "thing" that allows us to be aware, with semi-permanent structures, skills, habits, personality traits, those modifications of the mind or nervous system that allow us to speak English, do arithmetic, drive a car, use our bodies in skilled ways, etc. At any one time only a small number of structures in us are active. "Active" means that our awareness is drawn to them so that we are aware that we are speaking, riding a bicycle, etc. Also, directing awareness into particular structures activates them: you have not been aware of the basic rules of arithmetic while reading the above, but if I say four divided by seven equals two you will immediately be aware of some of the basic rules of arithmetic and realize that is the wrong answer. The (selective) deployment of awareness, with consequent formation and activation of particular structures/experiences/skills, is the concern of the socialization process that develops our ordinary SoC. In the course of socialization we have formed many structures which embody the skills, values, and norms of the culture, and these are connected with reward and punishment systems, both external and internal, which keep our awareness deployed and structures activated in ways which are socially acceptable. When awareness is not so deployed, we have social deviancy, and punish or try to cure it. Basic awareness, them, acts as a kind of energy for activating various kinds of structures or experiences, a point we shall return too later. STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS The terms "state of consciousness" and "altered state of consciousness" have come to be used so loosely that they often mean very little, other than what's on a person's mind at the moment. I have proposed two new terms, "discrete state of consciousness" (d-SoC) and "discrete altered state of consciousness" (d-ASC) for more precise, scientific usage. A dSoC is a unique, dynamic pattern of configuration of the deployment of awareness in psychological structures, an active system of psychological subsystems. Although these structures and subsystems show some variations within a dSoC, the overall pattern of its system properties remain recognizably the same. You know, for example, that you are awake right now, not dreaming, even though this particular experience of reading a book could occur in a dream: a moment's scan of the overall pattern of your mental functioning will make it quite clear that you are not in a state we call dreaming. In spite of great variation in the specifics, the pattern remains recognizably the same, and it is this pattern that we refer to as a d-SoC. By analogy, it is useful to conceptualize an automobile as an automobile whether it sits on the road or in a garage, whether you change the brand of spark plugs or the color of the seat covers, whether there are two people in it or four. Thus by our ordinary d-SoC we refer to a range of experiences in functioning that has a familiar and recognizable "feel" to it, a known pattern of functioning. A d-ASC is simply a convenient way of referring to some d-SoC that is importantly different from some other d-SoC that we take as a baseline, usually our ordinary state. A d-ASC is a new system with unique properties of its own, a change of some of the component structures or subsystems of consciousness, a change in the way awareness is deployed to form a new pattern. "Altered" is a descriptive term, carrying no value connotations of "better" or "worse." STABILIZATION OF STATES Any d-SoC that lasts for an appreciable period of time is stabilized. There are four main kinds of stabilizing processes. One is loading stabilization, where awareness and other psychological energies are deployed in habitual, desired structures so completely that there is no important quantity of awareness or energy left over to activate structures that

might destabilize the system. Negative feedback stabilization and positive feedback stabilization refer to the fact that various structures monitor the activity of other structures and either inhibit or augment or reward such activity when it goes beyond acceptable limits or stays within acceptable limits. Thus we may begin to feel guilty, as one instance of negative feedback stabilization, if we start having fantasies that deal with socially taboo topics, while conversely we may feel good, competent, "rational," etc. if our mental activities are running in socially acceptable channels. Limiting stabilization is an extreme form of negative feedback where various psychological structures are simply not allowed to function beyond certain limits without being inhibited. Tranquilizing drugs can be seen, in some of their manifestations, as producing strong degrees of limiting stabilization in that no strong emotions are possible, therefore emotions cannot disrupt psychological functioning. We do not, of course, spend all our life in our ordinary SoC. Each one of us experiences at least three d-ASCs, namely "dreamless" sleep (associated with stages 2, 3, and 4 of the EEG), dreaming sleep (associated with stage 1 of the EEG and rapid eye movements), and the transitional period between waking and sleeping, the hypnogogic state. Almost all of us have experienced some other d-ASCs, for, from the systems approach point of view, most strong emotions induce d-ASCs, although they are not commonly recognized as such since there is an accepted place for them within our consensus reality. I emphasize strong emotions here. You can be in your ordinary SoC and feel a little or moderately angry, and youre other psychological functions and experiences do not show any appreciable change: you know your name, you can think logically, you behave in socially appropriate ways, etc. But if you become extremely angry, enraged, then you are liable to do all sorts of things you don't normally do and your experience may be extremely different, such as literally "seeing red." Beyond moderate levels of intensity, most emotions probably produce a very rapid transition into a new structuring of the pattern of consciousness, a d-ASC. We will look at this more specifically for sexual arousal and marijuana intoxication below. INDUCTION OF AN ALTERED STATE Inducing a d-ASC involves two operations. First, we apply disrupting forces to the baseline d-SoC, psychological and/or physiological actions that disrupt the stabilization processes described above, either by interfering directly with them or by withdrawing awareness from them so as to deactivate them. Any d-SoC is a complex system with multiple stabilization processes operating simultaneously, so induction procedures may not work. A psychoactive drug, for example, may not produce a d-ASC, in spite of being ingested in a large quantity, because other psychological stabilization processes are sufficient to hold the baseline d-SoC to its normal pattern in spite of the disrupting action of the drug on physiological stabilization processes. Induction, then, is always a combination of psychological factors with whatever pharmacological or behavioral procedures seem to be the overt induction technique. If the disrupting forces succeed in pushing the baseline d-SoC to the limits of its stable functioning and then beyond, destroying its integrity, there is a momentary to a prolonged transitional period in which patterning forces, the second part of the induction process, must be applied, physiological or psychological procedures that push for a particular kind of restructuring, the formation of the desired d-ASC. The new system, the d-ASC, must then develop its own stabilization processes if it is to last; sometimes, this is possible only if specific external conditions last. Deinduction, returning to the baseline d-SoC from a d-ASC, is the reverse of the induction process: disrupting forces must destabilize the d-ASC and patterning forces must push during the transition to restructure the baseline d-SoC. Much less attention has been devoted to deinduction, since our ordinary state is so over-learned that it usually does not require any obviously special operations to get back to it. A brief discussion of the process of going to sleep will make induction clearer. In order to go to sleep you usually perform a series of operations, such as taking leave of other people and lying down on a comfortable bed in a darkened, quiet room. This has the immediate effect of removing large amounts of loading stabilization: you don't have to act in a socially appropriate way with other people in the environment any more, so awareness is freed from these customary structures and can be deployed in other ways. Second, you take a certain psychological attitude of allowing yourself to go to sleep rather than making yourself go to sleep: if you lie there and try to go to sleep, you usually don't succeed. Trying is one of the main types of operations in our ordinary d-SoC, but not appropriate for making the transition to sleep. By not trying in that fashion, you further take awareness and energy away from ordinary psychological processes, destabilizing them. Third, by lying still and being comfortable, relaxing your body, most of your receptors

for sensing your body adapt out and, experientially, your body disappears, thus eliminating another major form of loading stabilization, one that patterns our mental functioning in familiar ways. Finally, the factor we call by such vague terms as "tiredness," or "the need to sleep" further disrupts the ordinary d-SoC and leads us into the specific dASC of sleep rather than some other d-ASC. Note the interaction of these factors: lying down in a dark, quiet room is certainly no guarantee that you will go to sleep, it must be helped by taking certain mental attitudes and by tiredness. On the other hand, if tiredness is extremely high, you may be able to fall asleep while in the midst of conversing with someone else. Methodologically, it is extremely important not to confuse the appearance of a d-ASC with going through the overt operations which may induce it. Ingesting a drug does not guarantee that a drug-induced d-ASC appears, meditating does not guarantee that a meditational state occurs, etc. THE SEXUAL STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS What may be called the sexual state of consciousness is an excellent example of a d-ASC induced by the emotion of sexual arousal. In your ordinary d-SoC, you may have mild thoughts or fantasies about sexuality, but you may not show any of the physiological signs of sexual arousal and, more importantly, from an experiential point of view you may not find your mind particularly caught up in the sexual thoughts and fantasies. The rest of your mental functioning feels relatively intact and running in familiar courses, it is only that the particular content at the moment deals with sexuality. It is like the condition of mild anger discussed earlier, sexual content within your ordinary d-SoC. If you were in a sexually arousing situation and/or your mind continues with sexual thoughts and fantasies, however, a transition may occur (these transitions are very difficult to notice, for reasons discussed elsewhere (Tart, 1975), and you enter the sexual d-ASC. Here the sexual thoughts and experiences are not only the primary focus of your experience, but all sorts of other qualities of experience become sexualized. In your ordinary d-SoC, for example, you may walk by your bedroom door and glance at your bed, and it makes no particular impression on you. In the sexual d-SoC, a similar glance at the bed could be sexually stimulating because it is immediately associated with the location for potential sexual activity, perhaps with memories of past sexual activity, etc. The primary identifying quality of the sexual d-SoC, then, is the primacy of sexual experiences and the sexualization of other experiences. Carl Jung coined the phrase "constellating power," to describe the way in which archetypal material from the collective unconscious could organize other material around it into a pattern to fit it in with the archetype, to form a constellation of associated experiences, energies, etc. that reflected the central archetypal theme. The concept of constellating power is really of much wider scope: my researches have convinced me that many psychological structures/contents are constantly capturing our awareness and constellating the rest of our psychological functioning around themselves. If the central constellating content is one that is socially acceptable, such as an athlete winning a race, or a business man closing a profitable deal, no one thinks much of it, it is within that range of "normal" experience and behavior that we seldom bother to examine closely. The sexual d-SoC clearly shows tremendous constellating power, as all experience tends to be organized around sexual themes. It is important to again stress at this point that the concept of a d-SoC is a psychological and experiential concept, and the existence of any particular d-SoC must be assessed by a kind of experiential mapping of what is going on inside a person engaging in external activities ordinarily associated with the sexual d-SoC, for example, does not necessarily mean that the person is in the sexual d-SoC a person may show physiological signs of arousal and actually engage in sexual intercourse, but, when asked about the experience, might indicate that he was actually experiencing an anxiety attack, or was bored, or was thinking about his income tax, etc. The currently blossoming interest in investigating dASCs will force us to develop the methodology to deal with effects which are primarily experiential, rather than depending on external behavior, which, while more reliably assessed, may often be only partially relevant. There are enormous individual differences in the particular configuration of our ordinary d-SoC, differences, which are generally not too noticeable because we are trained to behave in similar, socially acceptable ways. Similarly there are probably enormous differences in the particular manifestations of the sexual d-SoC across individuals. Indeed, there might be several discrete sexual states of consciousness possible for a given individual, or depth levels within such dSoCs (see Tart, 1972a; 1975). For example, the d-ASC experience during orgasm can be extremely different from the

d-ASC of high sexual arousal prior to orgasm. Because of these individual differences, we must be careful about generalizations, although lack of knowledge about individual differences forces me to speak generally at this time. In the sexual d-SoC, the "sexual energy" that a person experiences may capture and constellate awareness and activate various kinds of psychological structures in a variety of ways. As we shall discuss in looking at marijuana intoxication, for example, one thing that can happen is that the psychological structures that normally keep us thinking and fantasizing almost constantly may be less activated, so the person may feel he is in more direct contact with the sensory qualities of the sexual situation. Thus, in the sexual d-SoC, a person may feel more in contact with the sexual behavior that he or she is engaging in. On the other hand, this experience of increased contact may not be a clearer awareness of actual happenings in the situation and physical sensations, but a fantasy embodying the consensus reality and personal view of what sexual activity should be like. That is, although a person could feel more in contact with the reality of the sexual situation, this might, in many ways, be an increased awareness of and identification with the socially taught fantasies that revolve around sexuality. Thus sexual energy can constellate awareness into a situation which is actually a high fantasy situation. Whether the feeling of increased contact is valid or not, the experience per se can be quite gratifying. Figure 1 is an illustration of this kind of functioning in terms of the systems approach to consciousness. Our basic awareness moves between and activates many kinds of psychological structures and in turn is captured by them, producing the continuous flow of experience. Figure 1 shows some of the relevant structures/subsystems. We may move from memories to rules for interpersonal relationships to various kinds of egotistical feelings to expectations about the future to sensing actual sensations to fantasies about what is going on, etc. very rapidly. Personal experiential examination of your ordinary d-SoC will demonstrate this constant thinking, remembering, fantasizing, planning, sensing, thinking, emotional feeling, etc. Actual sensations about the external world are constantly reaching our sense receptors, and, through a variety of learned processes that are termed input processing, are abstracted into socially accepted perceptions and passed on to awareness, where they form one component (often a minor one) of all this other activity. In many, very real ways, we do not perceive our environment, but, amidst a constant stream of thought and fantasy, we get occasional abstractions about the world around us that we too often distort and blend into ongoing fantasy. If this is socially acceptable fantasy, we are "normal" for our culture. __________________ Insert Figure 1 about here __________________ In the specific sexual contact situation, our physiological sex organs and associated neural structures are also highly activated, but reports of people's experience indicate that many other psychological structures are also activated, even if they are constellated around the sexual situation. As an extreme, a man and woman may be engaged in sexual intercourse, but the physiological sensations each one receives feed almost immediately into ongoing fantasy structures so that each is lost in his or her own internal world, even though they are engaged in sexual contact with one another. Each may be receiving much pleasure from his or her fantasies, with the fantasies being far more vivid than usual because of the sexual sensations and energies in the sexual d-SoC released by actual sexual intercourse, but they have very little real contact with one another. At the other extreme, the constellating effect of the sexual d-SoC may produce an exceptional focus on sensory perceptions and sexual sensations, with a consequent diminution of fantasy and other internal activity because of the withdrawal of energy from them, thus leading to experiences of great sensuality and increased contact. USING DRUGS TO INDUCE d-ASCs Taking a drug in order to induce a d-ASC is not a simple process. From a pharmacological point of view, we expect the specific chemical nature of the drug to produce a quite specific effect on the person, but a study of the actual reactions of people to psychoactive drugs shows that this is not the case. From the systems approach, the chemical effects produced by any specific drug, such as marijuana, are seen as one set of disrupting and patterning forces which act upon an already established d-SoC, and which may or may not have any effect at all, much less a highly specific effect.

The drug might disrupt some stabilization processes, for example, but leave enough others intact so that there is no change in state. By analogy, you could probably go out and remove several bolts from your automobile engine, but it would not cease functioning in its ordinary way because the strength of the remaining bolts would be sufficient to hold it together. Marijuana users, for example, frequently report that the first few times they used the drug they did not feel any change at all in the way their consciousness functioned, in spite of smoking what their more experienced friends considered extremely large quantities. With guidance from their friends about what kinds of effects to look for (further disrupting and patterning forces, via suggestions as to how to deploy their awareness), they suddenly found a transition took place and their consciousness took on a new configuration, the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication. Subsequently they needed very little marijuana to induce the d-ASC, as the physiological effects of the drug were now assisted by other psychological factors. MARIJUANA AND SEX Why would a person take some drug, such as marijuana, in conjunction with his sexual activity? There are, of course, many pathological reasons, based on individual neurotic patterns, but we will confine our discussion to what is probably the reason behind more prevalent and adaptive use, namely because in some way it enhances the sexual experience. Enhancement may result from either of two reasons, viz. by inhibiting psychological factors ordinarily present that detract from sexual fulfillment, or by adding specific kinds of enhancements peculiar to the drug-induced d-ASC. Many people today are dissatisfied with their ordinary d-SoC. The reasons for this are manifold, but we will just generally note that to many people, the particular set of interacting psychological structures and habitual deployment of awareness that is their ordinary d-SoC does not produce a high enough ratio of satisfying to dissatisfying experiences. One reaction to this, mentioned earlier, is to question the adequacy of the ordinary d-SoC and to become interested in achieving various d-ASCs where functioning could be better. A person might feel trapped in the situation represented in Figure 1. If a person has many guilt feelings, fears of inadequacy, and the like in his ordinary d-SoC that remain active during sexual activity, this will not only produce a generally dissatisfying experience, it may even keep sexual arousal from becoming high enough to allow the transition into a sexual d-SoC, and, in the more extreme cases, even prevent physiological excitation. Clearly some d-ASC where these inhibitions were less active would be very appealing. Even if it did not have any specific pleasurable sexual effects per se, such a d-ASC might allow sexual arousal to become high enough to constellate experience around it and produce satisfying sexual experiences, and/or allow a transition into a sexual d-ASC. NATURE OF THE STATE OF MARIJUANA INTOXICATION As background to understanding the specific effects of marijuana intoxication on sexuality, we shall look at the general experiential qualities of marijuana intoxication. Ignoring the question of individual differences, which we do not have sufficient data to talk about in any detail at present, I shall sketch a general picture of the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication that is based on an extensive questionnaire study of 150 experienced marijuana users that I carried out in 1970. Details of these findings have been published elsewhere (Tart, 1970; 1971). Similar results were found in Britain by and (197 ). I conducted the study because I considered our scientific knowledge of marijuana intoxication quite unrepresentative. Whether or not a d-ASC occurs following ingestion, its particular qualities are strongly affected by psychological variables. The laboratory situation represents a very restricted range of important variables, and a range that is quite atypical of the actual use of marijuana in our culture. I conducted extensive, informal interviews with experienced marijuana users, and on this basis prepared a questionnaire with over 200 specific, possible effects that a user might have experienced users were asked to rate both the frequency with which they had experienced these within the last six months, and the minimal level of intoxication necessary to experience each effect. Over 700 questionnaires were distributed in a way that made sure respondents had anonymity, and 150 satisfactory questionnaires were returned.

The respondents were chiefly young Californians, mostly under thirty years old, and predominantly male, unmarried students. They were a highly educated group, with only 7% having had no college training. Twenty-one percent had done graduate work or earned advanced degrees such as a Ph.D. or M.D. Many were interested in self-improvement: 36%, for example, reported that they practiced some sort of discipline for spiritual or personal growth. They were a very experienced set of users, with three-quarters of them having smoked marijuana between six months and three years. Most (72%) had also tried more powerful psychedelic drugs such as LSD-25 at least once, although hardly any (7%) had tried narcotics or powerful stimulants such as amphetamine. Given that this survey was carried out in 1970, before marijuana use was socially acceptable to many, we should also think of that group as more rebellious than average. Given the high level of education, however, they form an excellent reference sample to look at the potential effects of marijuana intoxication. Figure 2 shows the various categories of effects arranged by minimal level of intoxication. Most effects fit the general model that they became available at some minimal level of intoxication and remained available above that level. Level of intoxication was self-assessed by the respondents: some further research (Tart & Kvetensky, 1970) has shown that the experiential criteria for scaling level are highly reliable. Let us consider various effects from low levels of intoxication on up. ------------------------------------------Insert Figure 2 about here ------------------------------------------At fairly intoxicated levels we have a variety of effects that can be categorized as restlessness. This is one of the two categories of effects that does not, however, fit the minimum level model, and seems to be a transient period of restlessness accompanying the transition into the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication. It rapidly disappears with only slightly more intoxication, the main effects are feelings of being relaxed, the mind being quieted somewhat from its normal restless activity, and of being more open to experience. This feeling of being more open is extremely important to most users: 91% of them indicated that in their own experience they sometimes, very often, or usually felt that "I feel more childlike, more open to experiences of all kinds, more open to wonder and awe at the nature of things." Sensory enhancement in all sense modalities is also extremely common, and begins at these low levels of intoxication. Such sensory enhancement is obviously quite relevant to sexual experience. Most users feel that in the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication they become more sensitive to communications from others, to the subtle sorts of communication that take place in interpersonal relationships, and indeed, some users deliberately become intoxicated in order to understand others better. There is a feeling of generally being better able to focus on tasks that one desires to carry out, being more centered and effective in carrying them out at these low to moderate levels of intoxication, but this is the other category of effects that does not seem to fit the minimum level model, for at strong levels of intoxication it is replaced by feelings of mindwandering, less efficiency in tasks, less ability to stay focused on a task as the user becomes distracted by ongoing experience. Still beginning at the fair to moderate level, spontaneously having insights into one's own mental functioning and realizing that one's cognitive processes are altered, often in the direction of more intuitive thinking, are quite common. As we move to strong levels of intoxication the space-time matrix of perception changes. It is extremely common, for example, for time to seem stretched out, the density of experience per unit of time seems much higher. The spatial distances or relationships of things in the environment may be different from ordinary. If, however, a person closes his eyes and turns his attention inward, he finds that his mental imagery is greatly intensified, and his fantasies are exceptionally absorbing and interesting, an example of the increased constellating power of mental content in marijuana intoxication. To some users these inner experiences may attain extreme intensity, so that we might call them hallucinatory, although probably not in the same sense as we would use hallucinatory for various kinds of psychopathology. As mentioned earlier, a person tends to be captivated by and absorbed in whatever kinds of stimuli come, whether external or internal, and this is detrimental to carrying out tasks. Along with this possible (but not

invariable) turning of attention inward, many users find they can sense internal qualities of their bodies that are not normally in awareness, or sense ordinary body qualities in a different, often fascinating kind of way. As we move toward very strong levels of intoxication, there are pronounced changes in memory functioning. It is very common for users to find their memory span shortened, so that, for example, "My memory span for conversations is somewhat shortened, so that I may forget what the conversation is about even before it is ended (even though I may be able to recall it if I make a special effort)." This may be a contributing factor toward a very common sense of here and nowness, of being much more in touch with what is going on than ordinarily, as the memorial context that might draw awareness away from the present is decreased internal fantasies and the like can now become so intense that if a person closes his eyes he may get so absorbed in them as to lose a fair amount of contact with the environment, although if he keeps his eyes open and remains oriented toward the environment, his perceptions of the environment will seem strongly enhanced. Ego sense changes may begin at these quite strong levels, with a person feeling different personality-wise from his normal self, usually in a desirable fashion.* Such effects may reach an extreme of mystical experiences, such as temporary ego loss or identification with the cosmos, or feelings of transcending space and time that lead to judgments of paranormality of experience, such as the feeling of being so much in touch with another's inner processes that it must be telepathic. In terms of our concern with sexuality, the general picture we may draw of the d-SoC of marijuana intoxication then is initially one of mental quieting and the beginnings of sensory enhancement at mild levels of intoxication, coupled with changes in cognitive processes. As a person becomes more intoxicated, the changes in cognitive processes and the vividness of their perceptions of themselves and the outside world may not only become extremely strong, but the constellating power of various mental contents increases tremendously. If they are paying attention to the environment they may become extremely absorbed in what they are perceiving, or if they are paying attention to fantasies or internal bodily sensations they may become extremely absorbed in those and experience them as having exceptional vividness. SEXUAL EXPERIENCE DURING THE MARIJUANA STATE It was common for my respondents to report that "My sexual drive goes up when stoned; I have more need for sex." This could begin to occur at moderate to strong levels of intoxication. The converse effect, "I have much less sexual drive when stoned; it's difficult to arouse me even in a situation which would normally arouse me," was rare. When it did occur, it tended to be at higher levels of intoxication. The commonness of sex "drivet' going up should not necessarily be interpreted as an effect on drive level per se, but more likely as an anticipation of the pleasurable consequences of sexual activity. It was even more common for my respondents to report "I have no increase in sexual feelings unless it's a situation I would normally be sexually aroused in, and then the sexual feelings are much stronger and more enjoyable." This also begins at moderate to strong levels of intoxication. A very common experience among my respondents was "When making love, I feel I'm in much closer mental contact with my partner; it's much more a union of souls as well as bodies." This also begins to be experienced at the moderate to strong levels of intoxication. The converse effect, "When making love, I feel rather isolated from my partner; I'm wrapped up in my intensified sensations and not really very aware of my partner's reactions and feelings," was much less frequent, although, as will be noted later, people who experienced this found it unpleasant. One of the most characteristic (50% or more of the respondents indicate they very often or usually experience this when intoxicated) effects on sexual activity during the marijuana d-ASC is "Sexual orgasm has new qualities, pleasurable qualities, when stoned." This effect becomes available by the strong level of intoxication, but it is available to some extent at even lower levels of intoxication. This includes intensification of ordinary sexual effects as well as new effects. A variety of qualities, by way of explanation of this effect, were reported by the respondents, including the following:
1. 2. A feeling of prolongation of orgasm (possibly an effect of time slowing); The experience of some kind of energy flowing, pulsing, and/or exploding through the body;

3. Experiences of some kind of energy being exchanged with one's sexual partner, both flows during and after orgasm and explosive interchanges between the sexual organs and the partner's whole bodies during orgasm; 4. Total immersion in the sex act and orgasm, with no distractions of any sort, much more so than ordinarily; 5. Sensations of orgasm occupying much more of the whole body, rather than just the genital areas; 6. A merging of identity with one's sexual partner during intercourse and orgasm, a feeling of a very deep level sharing of sensation and ecstasy; 7. Experiencing the energy interchange during sexuality and orgasm as balancing and replenishing each partner's own vital energies, rather than depleting them; 8. Increased awareness of the bodily feelings leading up to orgasm, resulting in an ability to time movements in a way that will maximize the pleasurable qualities of intercourse and orgasm; 9. Experiences of temporary ego loss, the feeling of one's body taking over and the orgasm happening, rather than being produced; 10. Feeling that the shared experiences with one's partner are happening in an archetypal way, are happening on a more cosmic, vaster scale than immediate conscious experience.

Although we do not yet have the data to separate out specifically sexual effects from general effects of the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication, it is certainly clear that some of the general effects of marijuana intoxication, mentioned earlier, are at least partially contributing to these specific sexual experiences. The feeling of being more open to experience obviously contributes to feelings of closeness with one's partner, as does the feelings of more sensitivity and subtlety in interpersonal relationships. The sensory enhancement in all sensory modalities obviously enhances sexual sensations to some extent. The general feeling of increased focusing on whatever task is at hand, resulting from the increased constellating power of mental contents, would intensify sexual content constellation even more than ordinarily. The general changes in ego sense, space-time perception, and the like, will enhance the sense of vastness, of personal transcendence connected with sexual intercourse and orgasm. Other related effects are described in the original reports (Tart, 1970; 1971). The final item dealing with sexuality in my study was "I feel as if I'm a better person to make love with when stoned." This was a common, but far from universal experience, with 26% of the respondents answering never and 12% rarely. The respondents were asked to explain their answers to this question, and a variety of explanations were given. One kind of reason for feeling oneself to be a better lover was that you were less inhibited and more arousable. Recall that this is usually true when the situation was appropriate for sexual activity: many users commented that if the situation was not appropriate, they would find sexual advances by another person more repulsive than normally. Feelings of tremendously enhanced contact with one's partner and sharing of emotions were another major reason. A poignant example of this was supplied by an eighteen year old male student: When I am stoned and making love, sometimes I can be so much a part of my partner that it hurts and makes me feel very alone when we are apart . . . ." Other reasons for being a better lover mentioned by the respondents were the increased sensuality and intensity of sensations discussed above, the feelings of increased control and coordination of action, and the increased here and nowness, the total constellation of experience by the ongoing situation without internal psychological distractions. But note that one-quarter of the users indicated that they were not a better lover when in the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication, because of the other situation that was discussed earlier in connection with Figure 1, namely such an intensification of internal imagery and fantasy, even though driven by actual physical sensations, that they felt in poorer contact with their sexual partners than usual. It is important to note that the above is not a complete catalog of the experience of sexuality during the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication. This is because of what is called, in the systems approach, state specific knowledge. Due to the unique patterning of the system of consciousness during a d-ASC, certain kinds of experiences can only occur in that dASC, and while they can be remembered later in a repeated occurrence of the d-ASC (state-specific memory), the memory of the experience is only partially or not at all accessible in the ordinary waking d-SoC. Because I asked my respondents to fill out the questionnaire in their ordinary d-SoC, state specific knowledge about sexuality is not represented in the above list. Comments from informants during initial interviews indicate that these are very real and important effects, but we will not be able to understand them until we develop state-specific sciences (Tart, 1972b).

Figure 3, to be contrasted with Figure 1, illustrates a valued kind of sexual experience that can occur during the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication. In contrast to the mild intensity of sexual sensations when sex is carried out during our ordinary d-SoC, or the moderate intensity during the sexual d-SoC, sexual activity during the state of marijuana intoxication can result in experiences of exceptionally intense sexual sensations and little or no fantasy activity. The intensity of these sensations, represented in Figure 3 primarily in the genital organs, but also spread through the whole body, constellates awareness almost exclusively around the sexual situation, and, in many instances, produces an archetypal sexual experience, one where it is not an individual male ego having sexual relations with an individual female ego, but, as one respondent put it, "Man is Making Love with Woman, as it always has been and always will be." __________________ Insert Figure 3 about here __________________ SUMMARY The systems approach outlined in this chapter begins by noting that our ordinary d-SoC is not "natural," but is constructed in the course of enculturation, so that our ordinary d-SoC is adaptive in coping with the consensus reality of our culture. Insofar as people are not sufficiently gratified within their ordinary d-SoC and consensus reality, the dASCs can appear to offer more satisfying ways of functioning. From the point of view of the systems approach, most strong emotions probably lead to d-ASCs constellated about that emotion. This is particularly true for high levels of sexual arousal. Psychoactive drugs, such as marijuana, can also induce various d-ASCs when other stabilizing, disrupting, and patterning forces, primarily psychological in nature, take on the right configurations. The sexual d-ASC and the d-ASC produced by marijuana in our culture can potentiate each other greatly in many cases, leading to extraordinarily intense and pleasurable sexual experiences. This is a major appeal of marijuana to people in our culture. These experiences may result from the general qualities of the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication affecting the specifically sexual mental content, or they may occur in an entirely new d-ASC, where the processes of sexual arousal disrupt the baseline state of marijuana intoxication and pattern an entirely new d-ASC. Currently available data do not indicate which case is more likely. The systems approach to states of consciousness outlined in this chapter is applicable to the interactions of other psychoactive drugs with sexual behavior and experience. When such extension is incorporated into future research, particular attention should be given to the various methodological points mentioned throughout this chapter, such as the fallacy of equating overt induction procedure with the existence of a d-ASC. I hope that the approach outlined here will be helpful to others investigating sexuality and the ways it is affected in various other d-ASCs.

End Notes
This article has no footnotes.

1. Tart, C. Marijuana intoxication: common experiences. Nature, 1970 226, 701-704. 2. Tart, C. On being stoned: A psychological study of marijuana intoxication. 3. Palo Alto, California: Science & Behavior Books, 1971. 4. Tart, C. Measuring the depth of an altered state of consciousness, with particular reference to selfreport scales of hypnotic depth. In E. Fromm & R. Shor (Eds.), Hypnosis: research developments and perspectives. Chicago: Aldine/Atherton, Pp. 445-477, 1972, (a) 5. Tart, C. States of consciousness and state-specific sciences. Science, 1972, 176, 1203-1210. (b)

6. Tart, C. States of consciousness. New York: Dutton & Co., 1975. 7. Tart, C., & Kvetensky, E. Marijuana intoxication: feasibility of experiential scaling of depth. J. Altered States of Consciousness, 1973, 1, 15-21.

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