Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This book is published in the series: Emotions, Personality, and Psychotheraphy. This is a series that has already included 12 titles in this important area of endeavour. Andrzej Kohoszka of the Medical University of Warsaw, Poland has written it and included a chapter by Andrzej Bielecki of the Institute of Computer Science, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. The subject of the book is stated quite simply in its Preface: “The state of consciousness is our common experience in everyday life. It is a natural and obvious phenomenon”. He gives his authority to write on this subject by listing some of his previous publications, a practice that is to be encouraged when so many texts are produced by authors of varying degrees of expertise.
The books contents are impressive and include:
General presumptions and concepts referring to consciousness and its altered states. Theoretical inspirations. The variety of subjective experiences. The main results research on altered states of consciousness and its general theories. Models of states of consciousness and information metabolism. Applications and extentions of the model. The current studies of information metabolism – Forward. Ineffable features of states of consciousness modalities.
The author believes that consciousness has always been a particularly elusive concept and one vigourously argued about in the scientific community. Dr Kokoszka defines normal and altered consciousness in their most relevant clinical terms. He offers a base to his thesis by discussing and extending the early work of J.H. Jackson. He presents details of contemporary models that have been produced for the study of consciousness as it applies to both pathology and normal altered states. These states include relaxation, sleep, meditation and hypnosis. Biocyberneticians will benefit from his efforts to differentiate between neuroscientific and the psychiatric components of consciousness.
The author's approach, as indicated by the theories he presents, are based on the biopsychosocial approach.
It is worth noting the chapter by Dr Bielecki on “Information metabolism in the framework of exact sciences”. This has its own preface and takes what readers of this journal will recognise as a “Cybernetic approach”. The relationship of mathematics and the models of consciousness has been discussed in the literature for some years. Bielecki sets out to introduce this concept and considers the cybernetics models that have been developed. On p. 175 he even defines his view of cybernetics and its impact on modelling problems and projects. Some readers would have liked this to have been developed further. But in essence it was sufficient to evaluate the possibilities for future application and research. Of particular interest were his sections on:
Possibility of modelling the higher mental functions – a “Top‐down” approach.
Neuronal system for consciousness dynamics.
Information metabolism structures.
Integrated model of mental organisation.
Cyberneticians and particularly biocyberneticians, would benefit from reading this book. In fact it is an excellent example of a “cybernetic” approach to a particularly fascinating and, as the author writes, “elusive” concept. Its scope is such that it will appeal to a wide‐ranging readership.