Research Seminar Series | Pain asymbolia, depersonalization and the sense of self: A processing account | Thursday 9 June 2016

Presented by Professor Philip Gerrans, School of Philosophy, University of Adelaide

Date: Thursday 9 June 2016

Time: 1-2pm*

*Please note – the time of this event was incorrectly advertised in the Executive Dean’s News this week. 1 – 2pm is the correct time*

Location: Room 526, Level 5 Hughes Building, North Terrace Campus

No RSVP required, all welcome!

Speaker: Professor Gerrans is a professor of philosophy at the University of Adelaide as well as an associate of the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences in Geneva, Switzerland. His research centers on cognitive neuropsychiatry, developmental disorders, emotions, moral psychopathologies, and the use of psychological disorders to study the mind. He has recently written a book, Mechanisms of Madness, about the relationship between fundamental neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. His collaboration with researchers at the Swiss Centre focuses on depersonalization disorders and personality disorders.

Abstract: In a recent paper Colin Klein writes “the phenomenology of asymbolia might resemble a kind of depersonalization syndrome. The asymbolic, and the depersonalized more generally, feel sensations that they are estranged from — that they do not take to be theirs in the sense that we normally do”. This raises the question “in what sense do we normally take sensations to be ours?” I propose an answer to this question based on an interpretation of recent neuroscientific evidence. In particular I focus on the way placebo analgesia targets the mid and anterior insula cortices. Predictive coding accounts suggest that the AIC is a structure which integrates lower order bodily and affective processing to create a feeling of self awareness. Opoid analgesia creates a kind of depersonalisation for pain by inhibiting the higher order affective processing which creates the sense of self. We feel detached from experience when predicted affective response is absent. I then discuss two serious objections to this account and argue that they can be defused if we attend to the hierarchical, predictive nature of affective processing.

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