Page 1 of 1

Parallel (Dual) Consciousness Episode

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:53 pm
by Landgrant Empiricist
I am a PhD-trained cognitive psychologist, 15 years post dissertation. I have also been diagnosed with type II bipolar disorder and am living quite well with very effective medication.

Many years ago I had an experience related to a major depressive episode which may bear on the Jaynesian discussion of consciousness.

The episode had been going on for several days characterized primarily by absence of feelings, anhedonia, fatigue, and insomnia. I sat by a window staring out at the garden while my husband left for work. I was watching the tall impatiens blowing in the breeze and the coral-colored blooms and green foliage blurred into a kaleidoscopic wheel turning against the gold backdrop of the fence.

In what seemed like minutes my husband returned from work. I was aware that he had come in. I was aware that he was talking to me, but I kept staring out the window. His voice sounded like the voice they use in the "Peanuts" cartoons for adults: "Wa, wa wa wawa wa wa wa?" I could feel the hand on my shoulder. I knew he was fixing dinner.

I knew he was leading me to a chair at the dining room table. I was staring down at another beautiful scene before me. A deep orange-red with white-yellow rings, tinged with blue expanding in concentric circles. More "Wa-wawa wa" talk. Then there was a second voice, still "wa-wa-wawa", but then, I realized, I was talking, the second voice was mine.

I still saw the rings before me. I heard my own voice again, from my echoic store, my memory: I understood the words, "I can't pick up the spoon", What did Jim say? I found the memory: "Why are you crying" I suddenly saw the rings, in front of me was a bowl of tomato soup and I was crying. The rings were the reflection of the overhead light, the ripples made by my tears in the soup.

Why couldn't I pick up the spoon? It was by my left hand. My right brain was busy, it wouldn't pick up the spoon. The left brain was carrying on a conversation with Jim, limited as it was.

If asked where "I" was that day I would say in some ways in both places. The me that I most identify as self, the deepest truest me, was the one without the language staring into the bowl. However, when both made themselves known at the same time, I can't describe the feeling, they were both, indivisibly "me" but entirely separate. And both were fully conscious.

I know there is more to say on this. I would prefer to do so by addressing any questions anyone might have.

Re: Parallel (Dual) Consciousness Episode

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:55 pm
by rheiman
That's very interesting. Sounds like this was traumatic for you - and yet I'm certain that many of the rest of us would be willing to pay money for such an experience. Just so we could have a more personal insight into what we usually discuss as detached academics.

Re: Parallel (Dual) Consciousness Episode

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:55 pm
by Landgrant Empiricist
No, I wouldn't say it was traumatic at all. I found it facinating, even at the time. Although part of me was crying over not being able to pick up the spoon, I didn't have any awareness of sad feelings. That tends to be the hallmark of my experience of depression, an absence of emotional feelings.

I also think it's interesting that I really have more of a sense of self attached to the non-verbal pattern watcher.

Re: Parallel (Dual) Consciousness Episode

Posted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 3:10 pm
by martinem
Its a beautiful description of a phenomenon that is not so rare. Actually I guess it happens quite often but the story is not told, because the persons experiencing the breakdown of their integrity usually are full of anxiety and/or maybe never flip back into the normal reality. The miracle here is how we manage to contain ourselves with a singular self most of the time even though we relate to ourselves as objects. "Im out of my head" or even "I have a headache" are rather psychotic statements but are considered normal.
I'm interested in the "backbone" self that registered this dualistic experience. Was it a third self? Was it thinking about brain lateralization during the time? Where and when did the analysis of the round rings in the soup take place?
Martin Essen-Möller, M.D.