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Asked another way, what is the location of your "self" as you read this sentence? Like most people, you probably have a strong sense that your conscious self is housed within your physical body, regardless of your surroundings. But sometimes this spatial self-location goes awry. During a so-called out-of-body experience , for example, one's self seems to be transported outside the physical body into a surreal perspective—some people even believe they are viewing their bodies from above, as though their true selves were floating. In a related experience, people with a delusion known as somatoparaphrenia disown one of their limbs or confuse another person's limb for their own.

Such warped perceptions help researchers understand the neuroscience of selfhood. A new paper offers examples of rare bodily illusions that are not confined to a single limb, nor are they complete out-of-body experiences—they are somewhere in between.

Stranger to Myself

These illusory body perceptions, described in the September issue of Consciousness and Cognition , could offer novel clues about how the brain maintains a link between the physical and conscious selves, or what the researchers call "bodily self-consciousness. The researchers gave the patients a full diagnostic workup, including neurological and psychiatric examinations, various brain scans using electroencephalography EEG and magnetic resonance imaging MRI , along with structured interviews focusing on aspects of bodily self-consciousness. Patient 1 was a year-old man who had suffered from epilepsy since he was 14 years old.

For nine years the man also endured reoccurring attacks of strange bodily sensations that always followed the same pattern.

I challenged myself to talk to strangers everyday and learnt a lot about myself

First, without warning, he would feel an increasing pressure all along his left side, which escalated to the point that he was convinced a stranger had invaded the left region of his body. He would suddenly feel that the left half of his body no longer belonged to him—that the left half of his head, the upper part of his left trunk, and his left arm and leg were divided from the rest of his body.

During an episode, the man believed himself to exist only in the right side of his body, although he remained calm and continued to function normally. Most people around him never noticed anything unusual, even if he was giving a lecture. Patient 2 was a year-old man suffering from epilepsy that resisted medication. Since age 11 the man experienced seizures characterized by an overwhelming sense of numbness in his legs, chest and neck.


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The numbness consistently became so intense that he lost awareness of everything below his chin, felt his head was detached from the rest of his body and experienced himself as simultaneously an observer of his body and the subject of observation. An out-of-body experience , Heydrich explains, warps all three aspects of bodily self-consciousness.

Postal Service my soul for a doughnut. It happens that I had recently read an article on wordplay in the Smithsonian magazine in which the author asserted that some puckish soul had once sent a letter addressed, with playful ambiguity, to HILL JOHN MASS and it had gotten there after the postal authorities had worked out that it was to be read as "John Underhill, Andover, Mass.

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It's a nice story, and I would truly like to believe it, but the fate of my letter to California seemed to suggest a need for caution with regard to the postal service and its sleuthing abilities. I appreciate that that is not a complete address, but it is a lot more explicit than "Hill John Mass" and anyway Black Oak Books is a Berkeley institution.

But evidently not. Goodness knows, incidentally, what my letter had been doing in California for nearly six weeks, though it came back with a nice tan and an urge to get in touch with its inner feelings. Now just to give this plaintive tale a little heartwarming perspective, let me tell you that not long before I departed from England, the Royal Mail had brought me, within forty-eight hours of its posting in London, a letter addressed to "Bill Bryson, Writer, Yorkshire Dales," which is a pretty impressive bit of sleuthing.

And never mind that the correspondent was a trifle off his head. So here I am, my affections torn between a postal service that never feeds me but can tackle a challenge and one that gives me free tape and prompt service but won't help me out when I can't remember a street name. The lesson to draw from this, of course, is that when you move from one country to another you have to accept that there are some things that are better and some things that are worse, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Stranger To Myself

That may not be the profoundest of insights to take away from a morning's outing, but I did get a free doughnut as well, so on balance I guess I'm happy. Now if you will excuse me I have to drive to Vermont and collect some mail from a Mr. Some months after this piece was written, I received a letter from England addressed to "Mr.

My congratulations to the U. Postal Service for an unassailable triumph.

Stranger to My Self: Inside Depersonalization : the Hidden Epidemic - Jeffrey Abugel - Google книги

See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. About the Author. Hometown: Hanover, New Hampshire. Date of Birth: Place of Birth: Des Moines, Iowa.

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Education: B. Read an Excerpt Mail Call One of the pleasures of living in a small, old-fashioned New England town is that it generally includes a small, old-fashioned post office. Show More.


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    To a trio of twenty-something adrenaline junkies, it Ciao, America! In the wry but affectionate tradition of Bill Bryson, Ciao, America!