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Old 07-01-2010, 11:29 PM
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Default Do Our Senses Define Our Consciousness?

So I just had this thought in the shower, when I was wondering basically about the "free will" topic over here, and was thinking about how do we perceive world through our senses. Then the question popped in my mind - what if we lost all of them? Imagine you're just chilling as usual and suddenly something snaps within your brain, leaving you to collapse on the ground, paralysed like a doll, without being able to see, hear, smell, taste or touch anything. You'd be an imprisoned consciousness inside your body, a ghost in the shell. All that would remain would be thoughts. I realised it's the scariest thing that could ever happen to anyone. Everyone would think you're in coma, but you'd still be conscious all the time. They'd move you to a hospital and plug you on the machines to keep you alive. Can you imagine what it would be like? I'd be scared to death at first, but even if I realised what's happening, I would still rather die than this! I imagine a person would probably go insane in very short time
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:34 PM
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I'm sorry but I don't feel like typing this all over on PC, so you gotta roll with the double post since there is a character limit on PS3, I hope you're fine with that...

...but do you think he'd just remain consciousness for years to come, or would the signals between neurons one day just stop, due to the lack off impulses from 'outer world'?
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Old 07-01-2010, 11:48 PM
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This is exactly the topic Eltu and I have been discussing on IRC.

First of all, let me explain you there are three kind of realities: inner, outer and unknown. The inner reality means everything you can control, your thoughts, your body,... The outer reality is a reality you cannot control, yet receive information through your senses for example. And the unknown reality is a reality you cannot control neither have information about. Also, we've got material and abstract reality.

So, this means you've got:

First of all, an inner and material reality, which is your body.
Then the outer and material reality, which is the world you perceive by your five senses.
Third, your inner and abstract reality, consciousness; your thoughts and personality.

Guess where is the missing gap? An outer, abstract reality you can perceive by other means.

This means that having no contact with the material world is not the end of life as you knew it. You can still have contact with the "outside" by other means apart from your five senses. This is where lucid dreaming and astral projection get in scene. I am quite skeptical on them, though.

And also, consciousness is independent to any other realities (body, material and abstract world,...). Perhaps it is linked to the body by the brain, but I don't know how this affects to it; can't tell you anything else apart from some proofless theories Eltu and I have discussed about.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:04 AM
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What ZenitYerkes said.

Also, all theories are proofless.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eltu View Post
What ZenitYerkes said.

Also, all theories are proofless.
That's arguable....

New debate thread, I guess.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:18 AM
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I guess.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:20 AM
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I am rather ignorant on neurology, but my prediction would be certain areas of the brain exhibiting less activity while others may exhibit higher activity. I think this would depend how certain parts of the brain are influenced by those parts that process sensory input. For example, would we see a change in the portion of the brain that deals with emotion if the brain no longer received input from all of the five senses?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Eltu View Post
Also, all theories are proofless.
If they were provable, we'd call them proofs...
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:27 AM
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In response to Raso, wasn't there a guy who was thought to be in a Coma but instead was paralysed from the neck down? I think he was in the hospital for 30 years or something.

EDIT: I found the guy. He was with nothing but his thoughts for 23 years. He couldn't tell anyone he wasn't in a coma, he could only hear and think. Poor guy.

Here's the source (sorry, cant use link function, using phone): Trapped in his own body for 23 years - the coma victim who screamed unheard | World news | The Guardian
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:28 AM
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Well you can be conscious while you are dreaming so I say your senses and consciousness are seperate. But what you said about if all of your senses were gone and you were still alive, that is strange to think about. I think your consciousness uses the senses to gain information and complete simple survival necessities but is completley seperate.
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Old 07-04-2010, 11:49 PM
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Float type sensory deprivation is at the least, harmless, and the most, supposedly beneficial in meditation and creative-thinking.

However other types are incredibly harmful and can easily break your mind.

From Wikipedia: Studies have been conducted to test the effect of sensory deprivation on the brain. One study took 19 volunteers, all of whom tested in the lower and upper 20th percentiles on a questionnaire which measures the tendency of healthy people to see things not really there, and placed them into a pitch black, soundproof booth for 15 minutes. After, they completed another test that measures psychosis-like experiences, originally used to study recreational drug users. Five people reported seeing hallucinations of faces, six reported seeing shapes/faces not actually there, four noted a heightened sense of smell and two people reported sensing a "presence of evil" in the room. Not surprisingly, people who scored lower on the first test experienced fewer perceptual distortions, however, still reported seeing a variety of delusions and hallucinations.

According to the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease the hallucinations are caused by the brain misidentifying the source of what it is currently being experienced, a phenomenon called faulty source monitoring[12].

Also:

See: Josť Padilla
Jose Padilla at the Navy Consolidated Brig.

Padilla was convicted of aiding terrorists in 2007 and was sentenced to 17 years, 4 months in prison. While awaiting trial, reports surfaced that he was being tortured for information with the use of sensory deprivation for weeks at a time. For 1,307 days, Padilla was kept in a 9' x 7' cell with no natural light, clock or calendar. When Padilla left his cell, he was shackled and fitted with heavy goggles and headphones. His counsel argues that while he was being interrogated Padilla was subjected to harsh lights and pounding sounds. While meeting with his counsel, they reported Padilla exhibiting facial tics, random eye movements and unusual contortions of his body. According to them, Padilla had become so "shattered" that he became convinced his lawyers were part of a continuing interrogation program and saw his captors as protectors[12].

Total isolation: In January 2008, the BBC aired a Horizon special entitled "Total Isolation." The premise of the show centered around 6 individuals who agreed to be shut inside a cell in a nuclear bunker, alone and in the dark. Prior to isolation, the volunteers underwent tests of visual memory, information processing, verbal fluency and suggestibility. After, they spent two days and two nights in isolation. The subjects noted that their inability to sense time and the hallucinations and visions that they experienced made the 48 hours inside the cell very difficult on their mind.

Of the six volunteers, two coped well. One woman was convinced her sheets were wet. Three experienced auditory and visual hallucinations - snakes, oysters, tiny cars and zebras. After the 48 hours was complete, the same tests were conducted. The results indicated that the volunteers' ability to complete the simplest tasks had deteriorated. One subject's memory capacity fell 36% and all the subjects had trouble thinking of words beginning with the letter "F". All four of the men (neither of the two women) had markedly increased suggestibility[13] .

"Its really hard to stimulate your brain with no light. It's blanking me. I can feel my brain just not wanting to do anything."

—Adam Bloom, "Total Isolation"


In conclusion: Different types of sensory deprivation can yield different results, it also shows how easily the human mind can be bent, and broken.

Last edited by GLaDOS; 07-04-2010 at 11:53 PM.
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  #11  
Old 07-05-2010, 09:49 PM
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I'd go insane. My family already know that if I ever end up in such a situation (or completely paralysed or similar), I would want to die, and I hope they'd respect that.
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:27 AM
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No no no, a vegetative state is not the same as sensory deprivation, neither is paralysis. In both instances, sensory input is unchanged.

Also, in sensory deprivation scenarios, you are physically restrained, but are otherwise capable of movement, or in some cases such as the terrorist, are free to move but have no access to light.

Last edited by GLaDOS; 07-06-2010 at 12:53 PM.
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