When the Window Cracks: Transparency and the Fractured Self in Depersonalisation

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20 (1):1-19 (2020)
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There has recently been a resurgence of philosophical and scientific interest in the foundations of self-consciousness, with particular focus on its altered, anomalous forms. This paper looks at the altered forms of self-awareness in Depersonalization Disorder (DPD), a condition in which people feel detached from their self, their body and the world (Derealisation). Building upon the phenomenological distinction between reflective and pre-reflective self-consciousness, we argue that DPD may alter thetransparencyof basic embodied forms of pre-reflective self-consciousness, as well as the capacity to flexibly modulate and switch between the reflective and pre-reflective facets of self-awareness. Empirical evidence will be invoked in support of the idea that impaired processing of bodily signals is characteristic of the condition. We provide first-hand subjective reports describing the experience of self-detachment or fracture between an observing and an observed self. This split is compared with similar self-detachment phenomena reported in certain Buddhist-derived meditative practices. We suggest that these alterations and changes may reveal the underlying and tacit transparency that characterises the embodied and basic pre-reflective forms of self-consciousness, in the same way that a crack in a transparent glass may indicate the presence of an unnoticed window.



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The intrinsic quality of experience.Gilbert Harman - 1990 - Philosophical Perspectives 4:31-52.
The Self‐Evidencing Brain.Jakob Hohwy - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):259-285.
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