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Self-Study Course on Jaynesian Theory

After reading Jaynes's The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, people are often very interested in learning more but are not sure what to study next. In addition, individuals often limit their additional research to their primary area of interest or expertise (for example, psychology or philosophy), neglecting other important areas.

To that end, the Julian Jaynes Society has put together this self-study course as a guide for those wishing to gain a comprehensive understanding of Julian Jaynes's theory of the origin of consciousness and the bicameral mind. Carefully constructed by Marcel Kuijsten after many years of research, this course combines the most relevant recent publications with reading assignments from Julian Jaynes's own Princeton University course on consciousness.

Most of the books listed below are available for purchase new or used through online book stores. Out of print books can be found at your local library (or ordered via interlibrary loan) or try Amazon.com and Abebooks.com to locate used copies. Journal articles have been avoided as many people don't have access to a university library.

After completing the 12-month course, you will have a well-rounded understanding of the evidence relevant to Jaynes's theory. Additional reading suggestions are provided in each section for those interested in delving deeper into specific subjects.

The timeline is designed for someone taking the course part-time. The full-time student should be able to complete the course in half the time or less.

Section 1: Jaynesian Theory 101 (Weeks 1–4)

  1. Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 1976/2000. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), The Julian Jaynes Collection, 2012, esp. Parts III & IV: Interviews & Discussion. [JJS]
  3. William Woodward & June Tower, "Julian Jaynes: Introducing His Life and Thought." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  4. James E. Morriss, "Reflections on Julian Jaynes’s The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 2. [JJS]
  5. Brian J. McVeigh, "Elephants in the Psychology Department: Overcoming Intellectual Barriers to Understanding Julian Jaynes’s Theory." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 3. [JJS]

Section 2: Consciousness & Language (Weeks 5–8)

  1. John Limber, "Language and Consciousness." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 6. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Ted Remington, "Echoes of the Gods: Towards a Jaynesian Understanding of Rhetoric." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 13. [JJS]
  3. Scott Greer, "A Knowing Noos and A Slippery Psyche: Jaynes's Recipe for an Unnatural Theory of Consciousness." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 8. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  4. Tor Nřrretranders, "Part III: Consciousness." In Nřrretranders, The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size, 1988, Chapters 9-12. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  5. L.S. Vygotsky, "The Genetic Roots of Thought and Speech." In Vygotsky, Thought and Language, 1962, Ch. 4. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  6. Brian J. McVeigh, A Psychohistory of Metaphors: Envisioning Time, Space, and Self through the Centuries, 2016. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
        + Further Reading

Section 3: Auditory Hallucinations & Schizophrenia (Weeks 9–12)

  1. Julian Jaynes, "The Ghost of a Flea: Visions of William Blake." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 2. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Julian Jaynes, "Verbal Hallucinations and Preconscious Mentality." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 3. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Russell T. Hurlbert, "A Schizophrenic Woman Who Heard Voices of the Gods." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 10. [JJS]
  4. Marcel Kuijsten, "Consciousness, Hallucinations, and the Bicameral Mind: Three Decades of New Research" (pgs. 100–106). In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 4. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  5. John Hamilton, "Auditory Hallucinations in Nonverbal Quadriplegics." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 5. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  6. John Sappington & John Hamilton, "On Listening to Voices." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 9. [JJS]
        + Further Reading

Section 4: The Early Greeks (Weeks 13–16)

  1. Jan Sleutels, "Greek Zombies: On the Alleged Absurdity of Substantially Unconscious Greek Minds." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 11. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. E.R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational, 1951, Chapters 1–3, 5, Appendix II. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Richard Stoneman, The Ancient Oracles: Making the Gods Speak, 2011. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  4. Bruno Snell, The Discovery of the Mind In Greek Philosophy and Literature, 1953/1982, Chapters 1–3, 5–7. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  5. Chester Starr, The Awakening of the Greek Historical Spirit, 1968. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  6. Ruth Padel, "Madness in Fifth-Century (B.C.) Athenian Tragedy." In A. Lock and P. Heelas, Indigenous Psychologies: The Anthropology of the Self, 1981. [WORLDCAT]
        + Further Reading

Section 5: The Dual Brain (Weeks 17–20)

  1. Marcel Kuijsten, "Consciousness, Hallucinations, and the Bicameral Mind: Three Decades of New Research" (pgs. 116–120). In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 4. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Marcel Kuijsten, "Introduction" in M. Kuijsten (ed.), The Julian Jaynes Collection, 2012. [JJS]
  3. Michael Gazzaniga, "The Split Brain in Man." In Robert Ornstein (ed.), The Nature of Human Consciousness: A Book of Readings, 1973, Ch. 7. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  4. Joseph E. Bogen, "The Other Side of the Brain: An Appositional Mind." In Robert Ornstein (ed.), The Nature of Human Consciousness: A Book of Readings, 1973, Ch. 8. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  5. Roger W. Sperry, "Consciousness, Personal Identity, and the Divided Brain." In D. Frank Benson, The Dual Brain: Hemispheric Specialization in Humans, 1985. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  6. Joseph E. Bogen, "The Dual Brain: Some Historical and Methodological Aspects." In D. Frank Benson, The Dual Brain: Hemispheric Specialization in Humans, 1985. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  7. Eran Zaidel, "Language in the Right Hemisphere." In D. Frank Benson, The Dual Brain: Hemispheric Specialization in Humans, 1985. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
        + Further Reading

Section 6: Bicameralism in Ancient Civilizations (Weeks 21–24)

  1. Julian Jaynes, "The Meaning of King Tut." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 10. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. Julian Jaynes, "Dragons of the Shang Dynasty: The Hidden Faces." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 12. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Bill Rowe, "Voices Become Gods." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 4. [JJS]
  4. Bill Rowe, "The Ancient Dark Age." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 5. [JJS]
  5. Michael Carr, "The Shi 'Corpse/Personator' Ceremony in Early China." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 13. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  6. Todd Gibson, "Souls, Gods, Kings, and Mountains: Julian Jaynes’s Theory of the Bicameral Mind in Tibet, Part One." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 14. [JJS]
  7. Todd Gibson, "Listening for Ancient Voices: Julian Jaynes’s Theory of the Bicameral Mind in Tibet, Part Two." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 15. [JJS]
        + Further Reading

Section 7: The Mentality of of Pre-Literate and Pre-Modern Peoples (Weeks 25–29)

  1. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Primitive Mentality, 1923, 1975, Chapters 1, 2, 4–7, 12. [WORLDCAT]
  2. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, How Natives Think, 1926, 1985, Chapters 8 and 9. [WORLDCAT]
  3. Daniel L. Everett, Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle, 2009. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  4. A. Lock and P. Heelas, Indigenous Psychologies: The Anthropology of the Self, 1981. [WORLDCAT]
        + Further Reading

Section 8: Neurotheology & the Origin of Religion (Weeks 30–34)

  1. Marcel Kuijsten, "Consciousness, Hallucinations, and the Bicameral Mind: Three Decades of New Research" (pgs. 120–126). In Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 4. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  2. James Cohn, Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness, 2013. [JJS]
  3. David C. Stove, "The Oracles and Their Cessation: A Tribute to Julian Jaynes." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 9. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  4. Brian J. McVeigh, How Religion Evolved: Explaining the Living Dead, Talking Idols, and Mesmerizing Monuments, 2016. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
        + Further Reading

Section 9: Hypnosis, Possession, and Trance States (Weeks 35-39)

  1. Marcel Kuijsten, "Hypnosis As A Vestige of the Bicameral Mind." In Contemporary Hypnosis & Integrative Therapy, 2012, Vol. 29, Issue 3.
  2. Brian McVeigh, "The Self as Interiorized Social Relations: Applying a Jaynesian Approach to Problems of Agency and Volition." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness, 2007, Ch. 7. [JJS] [WORLDCAT]
  3. Ernest Hilgard, Divided Consciousness: Multiple Controls in Human Thought and Action, 1986. [WORLDCAT]
  4. T.K. Oesterreich, Possession: Demoniacal and Other, 1930, 2003. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
        + Further Reading

Section 10: Dreams (Bicameral Dreams vs. Conscious Dreams) (Weeks 40-42)

  1. Julian Jaynes, "The Dream of Agamemnon," In M. Kuijsten (ed.), The Julian Jaynes Collection, 2012. [JJS]
  2. Robert Atwan, "The Interpretation of Dreams, The Origin of Consciousness, and the Birth of Tragedy." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 6. [JJS]
  3. E.R. Dodds, "Dream-Pattern and Culture-Pattern." In Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational, 1951, Ch. 4. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  4. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, "Dreams." In Lévy-Bruhl, Primitive Mentality, 1923, 1975, Ch. 3. [WORLDCAT]
  5. William Vernon Harris, Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity, 2009 [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  6. David Foulkes, Children's Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness, 1999 [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
        + Further Reading

Section 11: Consciousness & Hallucinations in Children (Weeks 43-46)

  1. Bill Rowe, "Two Origins of Consciousness." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 11. [JJS]
  2. Dorothy G. Singer and Jerome L. Singer, "Imaginary Playmates and Imaginary Worlds." In Singer & Singer, The House of Make-Believe: Childrens Play and the Developing Imagination, 1992. Ch. 5. See also pgs. 123–127, 278. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  3. L.S. Vygotsky, "Piaget's Theory of the Child's Speech and Thought." In Vygotsky, Thought and Language, 1962, Ch. 2. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  4. Marjorie Taylor, Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them, 1999. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
  5. Daniel Pilowsky & William Chambers (eds.), Hallucinations in Children, 1986. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
        + Further Reading

Section 12: Poetry, Literature & The Gods (Weeks 47-52)

  1. Judith Weissman, "Evolution and Inspiration." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 7. [JJS]
  2. Edward Proffitt, "Romanticism, Bicamerality, and the Evolution of the Brain." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 8. [JJS]
  3. Laura Mooneyham White, "The Origin of Consciousness, Gains and Losses: Walker Percy vs. Julian Jaynes." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 12. [JJS]
  4. Robert E. Haskell, "Vico and Jaynes: Neurocultural and Cognitive Operations in the Origin of Consciousness." In M. Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind, 2016, Ch. 16. [JJS]
  5. Carole Brooks Platt, In Their Right Minds: The Lives and Shared Practices of Poetic Geniuses, 2015 [AMAZON]
        + Further Reading

Optional Section: Consciousness & Modern Life

  1. Nathaniel Branden, The Art of Living Consciously: The Power of Awareness to Transform Everyday Life, 1999. [AMAZON] [WORLDCAT]
        + Further Reading

Supplemental Material: Documentaries & Audio Courses

  1. FRONTLINE: The Released, PBS, 2009. [WATCH ONLINE]
    This year, hundreds of thousands of prisoners with serious mental illnesses will be released into communities across America, the largest exodus in the nation's history. Within 18 months, nearly two-thirds are re-arrested. In this follow-up to the groundbreaking film "The New Asylums," FRONTLINE examines what happens to the mentally ill when they leave prison and why they return at such alarming rates.
  2. Sinking Atlantis (Secrets of the Dead Series), PBS Home Video, 2008. [WATCH ONLINE]
    Five thousand years ago the Minoans, Europe's first great civilization, flourished on the island of Crete. Yet in their heyday, they mysteriously disappeared. Sinking Atlantis digs deep into the Minoan soil and history, following archaeologists who are finding evidence of a massive tsunami that devastated the Minoans – and may have spawned the myth of Atlantis.
  3. How Art Made the World: How Humans Made Art and Art Made Us Human, BBC Warner, 2006.
    Encompassing everything from cave paintings to ceramics and pyramids to palaces, How Art Made the World probes the global trend for unrealistic depictions of the human body; the secret powers of the feature film; how politicians manage to manipulate people so easily; visions of death and the afterlife; and crucially why we use imagery at all.
  4. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians, PBS Home Video, 2004.
    Good background material on the time after the breakdown of the bicameral mind and the transition from polytheism to monotheism.
  5. Archaeology and the Iliad: The Trojan War in Homer and History, Prof. Eric Cline, The Modern Scholar, 2006.
    A series of audio lectures covering many related topics such as Homer, the Iliad, the Mycenaean Greeks, the Hittites, etc.

Updated June 26, 2016