Consciousness Research - U. of Arizona

I discovered another amazing center for research into consciousness. I have high hopes for this organization in terms of understanding the biological underpinnings of Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder. I will adding this to my links section as another valuable resource.

Center For Consciousness Studies -- The University of Arizona
Promoting open, rigorous discussion of all phenomena related to conscious experience

The study of human consciousness is one of science's last great frontiers. After being neglected for many years (i.e. during a period of dominance by behaviorism in psychology), interest in the science of consciousness exploded in the last decades, with much progress in neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and other areas.

The University of Arizona has been at the center of these developments. The 1994 Tucson conference on "Toward a Science of Consciousness" is widely regarded as a landmark event, and the subsequent series of biennial conferences in Tucson have attracted extraordinary interest.

The Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona was formed in 1998 with a seed grant from the Fetzer Institute. The Center is a unique institution whose aim is to bring together the perspectives of philosophy, the cognitive sciences, neuroscience, the social sciences, medicine, and the physical sciences, the arts and humanities, to move toward an integrated understanding of human consciousness.

The Center is unique in its broad spectrum approach. Other groups tend focus either on cognitive neuroscience, philosophy or purely phenomenal experiential approaches, whereas the Center not only integrates these areas, but "thinks outside the box" of conventional wisdom which has thus far, at least, failed to make significant breakthroughs. The Center has also inspired other groups such as the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness and those who organize other conferences.

Consciousness in All Animals

As Depersonalization and Derealization involve an excessive focus on the consciousness of who we are, on The Self, on existential thoughts, perceptual distortions, and a hideous angst over the purpose of our lives, I found this article somewhat comforting. I have had many animal companions in my life, cats and dogs, and would swear they have a degree of sensitivity or “awareness” of one’s mood, a sense of joy or fun, and mischief -- endless and humorous “malice aforethought.” They have made me smile, brought me moments of joy and peace I often can find nowhere else.

Having recently lost my Lab Mix, Miss Gracie, I miss how she could always sense my dark days. She and my Border Terrier would come to my side when I was crying or frightened. And now my terrier misses his canine friend of 14 years. He looks for her. They were indeed “best friends” -- there is no other way to describe it. And now, my terrier has become closer to our cat; they sleep together, they both sit on the porch next to each other in the sun as they did when Gracie was here. A terrier friending a cat is most unusual, especially when he used to chase her endlessly and mercilessly for sport.

I thought again why the concept of a psychiatric service dog should be accepted as a legitimate companion for many with mental illness, just as a leader dog is of such value to one who is blind or otherwise physically disabled. (See my link to the Psychiatric Service Dog organization.)

Here is a wonderful article on consciousness by Christof Koch, Chief scientific officer, Allen Institute of Brain Science. I provide a sample. Please check out the link HERE to read the full article.

Consciousness Is Everywhere
Posted: 08/15/2012 3:48 pm - The Huffington Post
Christof Koch, Chief scientific officer, Allen Institute of Brain Science

“Perhaps the most surprising insight that has come out of the past 20 years of scholarly investigation into the nature of consciousness is that it might be far more widely shared among all of nature's children than most of us think. By consciousness I mean the ability to feel something, anything -- whether it's the sensation of an azure-blue sky, a tooth ache, being sad, or worrying about the deadline two weeks from now. Indeed, it may be possible that all animals share some minimal amount of sentience with people, that all animals have some feelings, however primitive.”

J.D. Blom - Studies in Altered States of Consciousness

I have found (through a fellow DP sufferer) another doctor who I feel is moving in the right direction with research that may shed more light on Depersonalization Disorder.
Like Oliver Sacks, M.D. and V.S. Ramachandran, M.D., a new name, Dr. J.D. Blom has come to my attention -- psychiatrist in the Netherlands attempting to understand the definition of "Self."
He is also involved in delving deeper into schizophrenia, bipolar, and other illnesses which can cause hallucinations.
I was struck with his discussion of the cenesthesiopathies -- "… aberrant somatosensory sensations and disturbances in the sensation of physical existence." I have provided links to Abstracts on some of his current research. Read More...