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When the window cracks: transparency and the fractured self in depersonalisation

When the window cracks: transparency and the fractured self in depersonalisation

Ciaunica, Anna, Charlton, Jane and Farmer, Harry ORCID: 0000-0002-3684-0605 (2021) When the window cracks: transparency and the fractured self in depersonalisation. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 20 (1). pp. 1-19. ISSN 1568-7759 (Print), 1572-8676 (Online) (doi:

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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 the transparency of 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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: self-consciousness, sense of self, depersonalisation, embodiment, meditation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Human Sciences (HUM)
Last Modified: 06 May 2022 09:01

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