Week 7: Are We Really Conscious? by Selenni Cisneros

Professor Vesna presented the definition of consciousness in her power point. Consciousness– a) the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself, b) the state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact, c) awareness. Also, Consciousness is a type of mental state, a way of perceiving, particularly the perception of a relationship between self and other. The overall idea of consciousness caught my eye and I decided to Google the question “What is Consciousness?” Exactly 33,700,000 results were found on the search engine. Beginning my quest to learn more about “consciousness,” I stumbled upon a few websites on the subject of consciousness and autism. These websites stated that people with autism lack self-consciousness compared to “normal” people. Self-consciousness is being aware of one-self, such as whom you are, your characteristics, your emotions, etc. This study was done with 18 adults with high-functioning autism and 18 normal adults. The subjects were asked three different types of questions– phonological, semantic, and self-referent. For example, they could have been asked, “Does the word (blank) describe you?,” while using adjective and self-describing words. The website claims that “behaviors that seem to indicate deficits of self-consciousness, such as talking about oneself as if speaking of others, are often observed in people with autism.” In other words, it has been noticed that people with autism tend to talk about themselves as if they were not themselves; they do not say “I went to…” when talking about what they did, for example. Studies have also been made on children with autism; it was found that they have impairment on self-consciousness. All of these studies talk about people with autism and how they have less self-consciousness than “normal” people. Well, the thing I’m thinking is… “normal” people can have a low self-consciousness as well. Who really and truly knows who they are? Usually everyone goes through a period where they’ve lost themselves, where they are finding out who they really are, where they change and become different. The definition of consciousness says “the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself.” But, I myself am not “aware” of some of the things I do. Or what does the word “aware” really mean? There have been times I’ve said cruel things, without realizing they were cruel, without being aware that they were cruel. Does that mean that I wasn’t conscious of my actions then? Because I wasn’t aware the words were cruel, until someone who was not me told me they were cruel. I wasn’t conscious about my actions until an outside source shone the light on it. On another note, many people live their life unconsciously. To me, being completely conscious means being aware of life. So many people go on living, without really living. So is one unconscious even when we appear to be conscious? If consciousness is a mental state, then compared to autistic beings, other “normal” people are in the same boat– they also lack the “normal” self-consciousness. But then what really is normal? There must not be a normal, because at one point or many points, we walk around oblivious or like robots and do not live and walk around unconscious in our conscious times.

by selenni cisneros

Website: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/159/8/1422

4 Responses to “Week 7: Are We Really Conscious? by Selenni Cisneros”

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