CONSCIOUSNESS-BODY-TIME: HOW DO PEOPLE THINK LACKING THEIR (SENSE OF) BODY?

  • Yochai Ataria
  • Yuval Neria

Abstract

War captivity is one of the most extreme traumatic experiences, typically including a series of repeated stressors such as social isolation, torture and humiliation. Captives are flung from their previous known world into a foreign reality in which their state of consciousness changes significantly, their sense of self may collapse, and repeated dissociation may ensue. Experiencing sensory isolation, captives typically lose their sense of body. The present paper focused on whether failing to sense one’s body can diminish the capacity to effectively distinguish between reality, hallucination and dream. On a deeper level, this question concerns the mechanism of human thought, and the extent to which a sense of body is needed to determine whether a thought is 'true' or 'false'. To investigate this question extensive interviews were conducted with fifteen Israeli former prisoners of war (POWs), who spent long periods in war captivity.

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