Body consciousness in cerebral palsy as moderated by Dohsa-hou and social interaction
a Thesis submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy
Department of Clinical psychology,
Faculty of Education, Kyushu University, Japan
Under the supervision of
Dr. Susumu Harizuka
Professor & Director
Center for Clinical Psychology and Human Development
I am body entirely and nothing beside.
Niezsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
The perceived position of the body is the result of interacting information of kinesthetic, tactile, and visual origin. Schilder (1953) points out that the awareness of body position is synesthetic. It requires an act of deliberate analysis to identify the modality through which information about the position of the body is being acquired at any moment. This study addresses a person’s awareness of the disposition of his body and his belief that they are his own, and makes suggestions about alteration of their awareness by applying a method of psychorehabilitative program called Dohsa-hou.
What is consciousness? We use the word most often as a collective term for an individual perceptions, thought, feelings, and memories that are active at a given moment. In this sense, consciousness is synonymous with awareness (Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, & Hilgard, 1985). Awareness is something apart from, and different from, all that of which we are aware: thoughts, emotions, images, sensations, desires and memory. Awareness is the ground in which the mind’s contents manifest themselves; they appear in it and disappear once again (Deikman, 1996).
II. Concept of consciousness
Consciousness implies an awareness of personal identity and an awareness of the relationship between the external world and self (Natsoulas, 1978, 1983). There are two major approaches in this field: philosophical approach and psychological approach.
a. Philosophical approaches
In the early 19th century, the concept was variously considered. Some philosophers regarded it as a kind of substance, or “mental stuff,” quite different from the material substance of the physical world. Others thought of it as an attribute characterized by sensation and voluntary movement, which separated animals and men from lower forms of life and also described the difference between the normal waking state of animals and men and their condition when asleep, in a coma, or under anesthesia (the latter condition was described as unconsciousness). Other descriptions included an analysis of consciousness as a form of relationship or act of the mind toward objects in nature, and a view that consciousness was a continuous field or stream of essentially mental “sense data,” roughly similar to the “ideas” of earlier empirical philosophers. Thomas Nagel (1995) commented that consciousness may be said to be possessed by a thing if and only if it is like something to be that thing; if it is a subject of perception. In this respect there two distinguished views: behaviorist view and neurophysiologist view.
The behaviorist view – The failure of introspection to reveal consistent laws led to the rejection of all mental states as proper subjects of scientific study. In behaviorist psychology, derived primarily from work of the American psychologist John B. Watson in the early 1900s, the concept of consciousness was irrelevant to the objective investigation of human behavior and was doctrinally ignored in research. Neobehaviourists, however, adopted a more liberal posture toward mentalistic states such as consciousness.
Neurophysiological mechanisms – That consciousness depends on the function of the brain has been known from ancient times. Although detailed understanding of the neural mechanisms of consciousness has not been achieved, correlations between states of consciousness and functions of the brain are possible. Levels of consciousness in terms of levels of alertness or responsiveness are correlated with patterns of electrical activity of the brain (brain waves) recorded by an electroencephalograph. During wide-awake consciousness the pattern of brain waves consists of rapid irregular waves of low amplitude or voltage. In contrast, during sleep, when consciousness can be said to be minimal, the brain waves are much slower and of greater amplitude, often coming in periodic bursts of slow waxing and waning amplitude.
Both behavioral levels of consciousness and the correlated patterns of electrical activity are related to the function of a part of the brain system called the reticular formation. Electrical stimulation of the ascending reticular systems arouses a sleeping cat to alert consciousness and simultaneously activates its brain waves to the waking pattern.
b. Psychological approaches
There are degree of awareness within consciousness. The early psychologists equated “consciousness” with “mind”. In fact they defined psychology as “the study of mind and consciousness.” In the study of consciousness in psychology, there is still no common agreement on a definition of the term. In this study we will adopt the following definition: we are conscious when we are aware of external and internal events, reflect on our past experiences, engage in problem solving, are selective in attending to some stimuli rather than others, and choose and execute an action in response to environmental conditions and personal goals. In short, consciousness has to do with (1) monitoring ourselves and our environment so that precepts, memories, and thoughts are accurately represented in awareness; and (2) controlling ourselves and our environment so that we are able to
initiate and terminate behavioral and cognitive attitude (modified from Kihlstrom, 1984). Monitoring is receiving information from the environment which is the main function of the body’s sensory systems, leading to awareness of what is going on in our surroundings as well as within our own bodies. Controlling is another function of consciousness which is to plan, initiate, and guide our actions. Whether the plan is simple and readily completed (such as meeting a friend for lunch) or complex and long-rage (such as preparing for a career in medicine), our actions must be guided and arranged to accodinate with events around us.
From all that is going around us now and from our store of knowledge and memories of past events, we can focus attention on only a few stimuli at a given moment. We ignore, select, and reject all the time, so that consciousness is continually changing. But objects or events that are not the focus of attention can still have some influence on consciousness. These stimuli are said to influence us subconsciously or to operate at a subconscious level of awareness.
According to the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and his followers, some memories, impulses, and desires are not available to consciousness. Psychoanalytic theory assigns these to unconsciousness. Freud believed that emotionally painful memories and wishes are sometimes repressed – that is, diverted to the unconscious, where they continue to influence our actions even though we are not aware of them. Thoughts and impulses repressed to the unconscious are assumed to reach consciousness only in indirect or disguised ways – through dreams, irrational behavior, mannerisms, and slip of the tongue.
c. Contributions of Freud, Adler, Erikson and others
Freud’s attack upon the traditional psychology of consciousness came from quite a different direction. He linked the mind to an iceberg in which the smaller part showing above the water represents the region of consciousness.
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