Depersonalization, the experience of prosthesis, and our cosmic insignificance: The experimental phenomenology of an altered state

Philosophical Psychology 5 (3):257-285 (1992)
Psychogenic depersonalization is an altered mental state consisting of an unusual discontinuity in the phenomenological perception of personal being; the individual is engulfed by feelings of unreality, self-detachment and unfamiliarity in which the self is felt to lack subjective perspective and the intuitive feeling of personal embodiment. A new sub-feature of depersonalization is delineated. 'Prosthesis' consists in the thought that the thinker is a 'mere thing'. It is a subjectively realized sense of the specific and objective 'thingness' of the particular object thought about. I show that prosthesis is an important cognitive feature of depersonalization, and may be psychologically connected with the tendency of depersonalized individuals to report 'philosophical' types of thinking. Indeed, several philosophical issues concerning the identity of the self appear to have been enhanced by prosthesis experiences. Thus, far more efficient than William James's experimental attempts to uncover philosophical truths under the influence of nitrous oxide intoxication, prosthesis may be a safe and recommended experience for philosophers. The history of depersonalization theories is presented from Krishaber to Freud, and the main approaches to prosthesis criticized. Finally, a fresh approach to psychogenic depersonalization is outlined on the basis of certain cognitive similarities with visual agnosia. This paper may be understood as continuing the Jamesian tradition 'experimental abnormal psychology', that is, of examining extraordinary mental states with an eye to their philosophical implications
Keywords Mental States  Psychology  Science  Self
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/09515089208573060
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,938
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 18 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

26 ( #115,734 of 1,725,630 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #349,437 of 1,725,630 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.