Kafka, paranoic doubles and the brain: hypnagogic vs. hyper-reflexive models of disrupted self in neuropsychiatric disorders and anomalous conscious states
Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 5 (1):1-37 (2010)
|Abstract||Kafka's writings are frequently interpreted as representing the historical period of modernism in which he was writing. Little attention has been paid, however, to the possibility that his writings may reflect neural mechanisms in the processing of self during hypnagogic (i.e., between waking and sleep) states. Kafka suffered from dream-like, hypnagogic hallucinations during a sleep-deprived state while writing. This paper discusses reasons (phenomenological and neurobiological) why the self projects an imaginary double (autoscopy) in its spontaneous hallucinations and how Kafka's writings help to elucidate the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms. I further discuss how the proposed mechanisms may be relevant to understanding paranoid delusions in schizophrenia. Literature documents and records cognitive and neural processes of self with an intimacy that may be otherwise unavailable to neuroscience. To elucidate this approach, I contrast it with the apparently popularizing view that the symptoms of schizophrenia result from what has been called an operative (i.e., pre-reflective) hyper-reflexivity. The latter approach claims that pre-reflective self-awareness (diminished in schizophrenia) pervades all conscious experience (however, in a manner that remains unverifiable for both phenomenological and experimental methods). This contribution argues the opposite: the "self" informs our hypnagogic imagery precisely to the extent that we are not self-aware|
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