I had a decidedly disconcerting experience this morning. When the alarm on my iPad woke me at 6:30 a.m., I automatically rolled out of bed to turn it off, but then I simply stood there not knowing who I was, where I was, or what I was supposed to do next.
I understand that this sort of thing is highly subjective, so it may have taken only a few seconds in the real world, but it seemed to me that I was stood standing (as it were) for at least a minute before everything came flooding back.
This set me to pondering the concepts of consciousness, self-awareness, and personality — whatever it is that makes you you and me
Of course, the real problem comes when we try to define things like consciousness, self-awareness, and personality. As the Wikipedia mischievously maintains regarding the concept of consciousness: “Perhaps the only widely agreed notion about the topic is the intuition that it exists.” This clear-as-mud entry goes on to say:
Opinions differ about what exactly needs to be studied and explained as consciousness. Sometimes, it is synonymous with the mind, and at other times, an aspect of it. In the past, it was one’s “inner life,” the world of introspection, of private thought, imagination, and volition. Today, it often includes some kind of experience, cognition, feeling, or perception. It may be awareness, awareness of awareness, or self-awareness. There might be different levels or orders of consciousness, or different kinds of consciousness, or just one kind with different features.
Well, you can’t claim that they haven’t tried to cover all of the bases, but — call me a “silly-billy” if you wish — these meandering musings still leave me longing for more.
From what I understand, the whole concept of consciousness is a conundrum that has provoked confusion and controversy since first we came to experience it. I’ve heard about people who have awoken from the anesthetic following an operation and… they simply aren’t “there” anymore. That is, they have no personality; whatever it was that made them them has left the building and is no longer a part of their being.
I usually wake in full-on mode, knowing who I am, what day it is, and whatever it is that the day holds in store, so I must admit that I found my own experience to be decidedly unnerving. I’d hate to go through this sort of thing on a regular basis. Is this what it’s like to have one of the many forms of dementia? In my case, I’m quietly confident that this was just a one-off occurrence, but still and all, I think I will be keeping a watchful eye on myself “just in case.”
How about you? Do you bounce out of bed in the morning full of vim and vigor and in full possession of your faculties, or do you struggle to greet each new day mired in a morass of misunderstanding?
Beer can make a difference. 🤫
“I drink therefore I am”? 🙂
Neither really…. I’d just like the world to be a better place without so much of the crap that spoils it….
Ah Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits — and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!
― Omar Khayyam
I think he has the right idea! Without natural selection at work, the human race needs a LOT of pruning….
We have a lot of natural selection going on in the USA at the moment — the way I understand it, the people who don’t believe in taking the coronavirus vaccine account for more than 95% of hospitilizations and deaths caused by the virus. It seems a bit churlish for the rest of us to say “I told you so!”
During the last couple of hours before I wake up, I am thinking of the problems that have been dealing with. Often a new solution will come to mind and usually, I will remember it when I wake.
You are retired — you no longer have any problems (or are you talking about your golf swing, in which case I stand corrected?)
Ah, in life there are always problems to solve. Lately, since we just moved, it has been trying to figure out how to organize stuff in closets so it can all fit. We have much less room in this new place compared to the previous one. Or how to fix the nav system in my car, or if it cannot be fixed what to do about it since it is no longer supported. Or how to fix things in the house. Or what to write to Max about. It’s always something. Golf? That can never be figured out…
I didn’t even know you’d moved…
These days I may know who I am, but vim and vigour is much lacking.
But I do know the sensation of waking up not knowing my name. Many years ago, I took a student charter flight from Tel Aviv to Copenhagen with a stopover in Athens. The plane left at 5AM, so we didn’t sleep the night before. For some reason the stopover in Athens was prolonged and we spent ~5 hours in the blistering heat, without A/C stuck on the tarmac. When we got the Copenhagen, we wondered around for an hour or two carrying our backpacks looking for a student hostel with available spaces. Having found one, be dropped the luggage and went for walk. We sat down in a park in the shade and listened to someone playing a guitar. I don’t know if it was 5 minutes later or 1/2 hour, but I suddendly woke up. I had no idea hwre I was, who I was or even who my mother was. If the Danish fuzz (it was 1971) had approached me I would have been in real trouble.
I have had such episodes once or twice more, but more recently I find that if I have a really deep afternoon nap, I find my body and soul to be out of sync. I walk around like the proverbial bear with a sore head.
But now to relive a really difficult time of my life. I developed a pinched nerve in my neck. It manifested itself as an excruciating pain in my right forearm. The only relief I could get was to rest my forearm on the top of my head.
In order to sleep I was prescribed Percoset for the pain and Valium to sleep. The only problem was the Percoset wore off before the Valium and I would wake up at 5AM not knowing who I was, with a screaming pain in my arm. It was all I could do to stumble downstairs and find the painkillers and then sit in the dark, arm on my head hoping for death or the painkillers to kick in- whichever came sooner!
Physiotherapy and then chiropractics eased the pain, but it took neck surgery to restore me to almost normal function.
I’m glad to hear I’m not alone 🙂 — but real sorry to hear about your pinched nerve 🙁
This getting old is not fun. Life may be a bowl of cherries but after a while the cherries start going rotten…..
I prefer to think of my cherries as fermenting into a fine liqueur 🙂
Cherry Heering ?
Oooh — that looks SO TASTY!!!
It’s lovely, try some, thoroughly recommended. Comes from Copenhagen so maybe that’s what Aubrey had in that park… 😁
Let’s go with that 🙂
I have had that happen a few times over the years, though not recently. Equally weird is when I wake up from a rather strange dream and can’t tell what is real and what is not.
The first thing that popped into my head when reading this was a conversation I had a while back, discussing artificial beings. I was commenting that it would be disturbing to be interacting with a robot that was not self aware or sentient, but was good enough that we humans couldn’t tell. My co-conversationalist ask a simple question: “If you can’t tell, why would it matter?”
I sometimes wake up having dreamed about a writing project — when I awake, I find I’ve added it to my “list of things to do” — it’s only when I start going through the list in my mind planning my day that I think, “hang on, where did that one come from?” LOL
“My co-conversationalist ask a simple question: “If you can’t tell, why would it matter?” Are you sure you were talking to a person and not an AI that was trying to trick you?