Consciousness

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Consciousness

Postby Natalya » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:13 pm

About a week ago I had a discussion with some people in the BrikWars FB chat. We were talking about the experience of consciousness, and I talked a lot about sleep paralysis which is a semi-conscious state where you are somewhat aware that you are sort-of awake, but you have no muscle control and input from your physical senses (except hearing) is not making its way to your area of consciousness in the brain. I was talking about it from experience because if I forget to turn on my side at night before falling asleep, I will end up in sleep paralysis where you feel a horrible sense of dread but you can't wake up from it like you would a normal nightmare. The solution for me is to focus on my breathing (this is the only motor control I have when in sleep paralysis) to try to make myself breathe so loudly (very difficult to focus this much) that the sound from it wakes me up.

Anyway, the idea of being partially conscious is pretty fascinating to me. It would seem to indicate that parts of the brain that normally communicate are not communicating, so your consciousness is not in control of the rest of your body, and you don't feel 'awake' either. This is hard to describe, but it is similar to the feeling of having really tired muscles or being weak like if you were sick, but your ability to think is what is weak. It makes me wonder what we think we know about ourselves. Is my favourite colour really blue, or do I even have a favourite? Do I want pizza or do I want sushi, or am I even able to want something in particular in the first place, given how all the things I just mentioned are experienced by the brain as only a collection of sensory inputs? I don't have an emotional attachment to any of those foods, or the colour blue, so can I really say that I like those things even if they are somehow pleasing to experience?

:phil:

The division of sense-perception from the act of consciousness might make it hard to determine things like that. Maybe it is just that a given food, for example, delivers more sensory satisfaction than another food, and by saying you 'like' it, well you really mean that it makes your senses of taste, touch, and smell feel better than does the other food.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Keldoclock » Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:48 pm

Well, since apparently you have only just discovered the whole "my perceptions do not line up exactly with reality" thing, no, nothing can be proven to exist, not even yourself (Descartes was wrong), your identity is just a mental construct built of your memories and biological needs, your personal preferences to things like color are just positive feedback loops (as a child, positive memories caused you to consciously decide blue was your favorite color, and every time you were asked you replied with blue, and so reaffirmed the belief), your desire for food X is a result of it more closely fitting your body's instinctual needs, and the data from your senses is usually modified by what you expect to sense (McGurk effect).

Honestly, just stop worrying about it and be happy that you are in a time and place where pizza and sushi are available and you have had the chance to try both. Also, now that you mentioned it, why are you the only one on the forum that gets away with colored text?
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Ross_Varn » Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:49 pm

I've been interested in dreams and dream states recently, because I really do want to be able to remember my dreams. A lot of crazy shit goes on in them, and having a degree of lucidity within the dream would be nice. For example, the other day, I dreamed that I was running with two others around a strange neighborhood. Nearing our destination, we realized that we had to pass a sleeping dog in order to get to safety. This dog woke up immediately after we passed it. Between the loping pace and the ravenous look in the eye I was pretty sure that it intended to kill us all. Although leading the group I immediately began to experience the sort of slow motion running you find in nightmares, feet seeming to barely leave the ground, completely bare of anything resembling a weapon- the others pass me and the dog catches up. Dread terror strikes my heart, I redouble my effort and attempt to fairly leap forward, pressing my foot against the dirt inches away from the dog that was now mirroring my move, going for my throat-

-and as I pushed off the ball of my foot, it broke through the dream and my foot twitched. I came awake, frozen to the bed. That was all I needed. Falling asleep again in an instant, never really communicating to myself a need for anything except a weapon, I spun around in midair, a blaster pistol gripped in my hand as if it had been there all along, and I fired a bolt into the monster's throat, sending it spinning out of the way as I landed. That's where my recollection stops, but I know the dream continued.

Point is, we have a kind of dream state that we slip into at night under deep REM, that locks down our muscles and prevents us from acting out our dreams and flailing all over the place in our sleep. We wake up out of a cold sweat in the night sometimes when we break this barrier through nightmares and the like. Some people sleepwalk, their body taking over for a routine activity. Before I did any research about dreaming- hell, as a little kid- I'd have made up my own routines to put myself to sleep, the most effective of which involved tensing up every muscle in the body and then relaxing them one by one. I just came across that other day as an effective technique for sleep assistance, and I invented the bloody thing years ago. I could manually put myself into a dream state as a child.

In fact...

As a kid, I'd have this thing I'd do at night. No, shut up, pedo, it was different than that- I would lay perfectly still, entirely motionless, and concentrate. Maybe on my arm, or my leg, or just my finger. I would focus on moving that part over my body- without actually moving it. If I was tired enough, or in a state near to sleep, I would be able to create a "ghost image", a mental impression of my arm's presence in a space where it was not, without moving a muscle.

Hell, you can try it too.

-Stand a few feet away from the wall, pressing your fist against it at an angle leading down.

-Focus on moving your hand upwards, against the wall, while not looking at it. You will not be able to move it, but you should be pushing against the wall.

-After a moment, step away from the wall, without moving your arm or hand.

You should feel what I am attempting to describe- a sensation of your arm moving up, away from where it actually is. Congratulations, you've just hacked your brain. If you move a muscle, though, the illusion is overridden. I did a lot of this crazy stuff as a kid, figuring it out by myself, even.

That doesn't really say anything about consciousness though, just dreaming and dreamstates. But it does say that I was a bit of a psychonaut as a kid... hmm...
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Thesson » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:47 pm

TL;DR
Im very sorry! It took me a very long time to read this! I got ADHD like crap.
Is that even a thing? Like crap?
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Ross_Varn » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:21 am

Sure, if you're comparing your self-diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder- essentially saying that a bunch of ranty self-absorbed recollections of dreams and amateur theorizations is boring, for good reason- to the average attention span of a piece of human fecal waste, "like crap" is certainly a thing.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Thesson » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:00 am

...What?
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Alex » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:24 am

I had an experience with sleep paralysis when I was 13. There was a snow/ice storm and the power was out in the entire neighborhood, so when I went to bed it was pretty dark. I woke up in the middle of the night and looked around my room. Everything looked like normal except for one very important difference, someone was standing at the foot of my bed. He was maybe 6'6", wore a black hooded robe which covered his eyes and he had pasty white skin (he actually looked a lot like the shadowlurker meme, although this was years before I saw it). This creepy smile started to spread across his face and he pulled out this long curved dagger from inside his robe. At this point I was freaking out inside, but I couldn't move anything or even scream, just watch and pray that I don't die. Then I blink my eyes and he's gone. I managed to go back to sleep after this, only to wake up a few hours later. I was on my side now, and the only thing I could see was the bottom half of a black robe. I blinked my eyes again and it was gone. According to wikipedia, hallucinations and intense feelings of panic often accompany sleep paralysis. I've had a few other times where I've sort of woken up, and half of a room was normal and half was something else, like a boat on the ocean, but nothing as exciting.terrifying as this story.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Zupponn » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:12 am

I swear I dream about stuff that's going to happen 3-7 days from now.


Also, along the same lines as Ross's ghost image thing, if you lay down on a bed or couch and then convince yourself that you're on a hammock or ship or something that rocks, then you're mind will create the sensation of rocking for you.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Natalya » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:01 am

Keldoclock wrote:Well, since apparently you have only just discovered the whole "my perceptions do not line up exactly with reality" thing,

No I didn't just discover this.
Keldoclock wrote:Also, now that you mentioned it, why are you the only one on the forum that gets away with colored text?

Because I'm the only one who decided to do it. Nothing is stopping you from using coloured text.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Ben-Jammin » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:55 am

I have no problem whatsoever remembering my dreams. I remember last night having a dream that involved something like the Call of Cthulu video game, and then going to a scene where I was back in high school with my old politics teacher yelling at the kid who always caused trouble in our class and then proceeding to shove stacks of paper in his face.

The day before that I had a dream regarding me as a neo-Knights Templar kicking some demon butt. By far one of my favorite dreams. Of course perhaps one of the reasons I can remember all of this is because I apparently have some form of sleep apnea or deprivation or whatever because everytime I go to sleep I wake up not long after. If I fall asleep at 9 or so, I wake up and 11 or 12. And then there's the fact that I almost always get up and 5-5:30 in the morning and can never get back to sleep. I guess my body has some kind of internal alarm clock or something, saying, "Hey, its 5:30, get up!"

Natalya wrote:We were talking about the experience of consciousness, and I talked a lot about sleep paralysis which is a semi-conscious state where you are somewhat aware that you are sort-of awake, but you have no muscle control and input from your physical senses (except hearing) is not making its way to your area of consciousness in the brain.


I think I've experienced this before too. There are times when I simply lay in bed because I feel both too tired to get up and do anything and too awake to fall back to sleep. I think it might also fall along the lines of the times when I'll be sitting down and reading something that I decide is long and boring and by brain simply zones out. I sit there looking like an idiot with my eyes half shut and my mouth open, gaping at the huge columns of text, yet at the same time I'm reading it and still not learning anything from it because my brain is in this said semi-conscious, sort-of awake state.

Natalya wrote:This is hard to describe, but it is similar to the feeling of having really tired muscles or being weak like if you were sick, but your ability to think is what is weak.


Oh, that's a nice description. It sounds exactly like that time I didn't drink enough water during a workout or whatever and the next day I was both sick in my stomach AND had a lactic acid build-up in my arms and legs. I laid on the couch the whole day because I could hardly take three steps without wanting to fall over. I didn't even feel like eating.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby stubby » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:32 am

I had that sleep paralysis thing one time. I fell asleep in a chair in a friend's dorm room in college, woke up again, couldn't move. Folks were still in the room, and decided to investigate; skin pale and cold, no detectable pulse (which is to say, not detectable by idiots who had no idea what they were doing); they convinced each other that I was dead. I didn't have those feelings of panic and anxiety that go with the paralysis though, I could watch and listen to everybody freaking out but I didn't have any particular feelings about it. So I just chilled out for awhile and eventually life returned. The end.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Silverdream » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:34 am

I've had sleep paralysis twice. First time I can't remember what I saw, I can only remember that I tried to scream for help. Second time it was fucking huge ass spiders.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Colette » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:55 am

Zupponn wrote:I swear I dream about stuff that's going to happen 3-7 days from now.


That happens to me too, although the events can happen the next day or years from then for me. I swear, when people I know start showing up in my dreams, the dream always comes true. I almost always end up misinterpreting the circumstances though.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby muffinman42 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:42 pm

Keldoclock wrote:Also, now that you mentioned it, why are you the only one on the forum that gets away with colored text?

Because I'm the only one who decided to do it. Nothing is stopping you from using coloured text.[/quote]
It's just sort of your thing.

The idea of Solipsism is another concept related to this And the idea of the brain as a biological computer.
Personally I prefer to keep it all out of my mind as it puts me into a state similar to a logic-bombed AI.

The only dreams I remember are Lucid ones, and then generally only for a short time.
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Re: Consciousness

Postby Ross_Varn » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:50 pm

I've begun to write mine down. Should help with recollection in the future.
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